Chattanooga, TN – The Tivoli Theatre, one of the biggest entertainment venues in Chattanooga, had to close their curtains months ago during the first spike of Covid-19 cases. This caused them to lose around four million dollars, in addition to giving some employees pay cuts.
The Tivoli was just one of the venues affected by this pandemic, but there is hope for them to get back on their feet.
However, they may look a little bit different.
On October 2, Mayor Andy Berke announced that the Tivoli Theatre and similar venues will be allowed to reopen, as long as they follow specific guidelines. The Tivoli, The Signal, and The Caverns all opened during the first weekend in October. All three spent their opening weekends following safety measurements and restrictions.
During this first weekend, The Tivoli decided to open by playing three movies from the Bobby Stone series. The Signal let Whitney Morgan, a honky-tonk artist, take the stage. The Caverns spent their first four nights presenting Jason Isbell, a Grammy award winning artist. They were also able to take this opportunity to showcase the new amphitheater created by Todd Mayo.
At each venue, everyone entering must have their temperatures taken, and people are expected to sit in certain taped off sections. Each section, or pod, is designed to occupy just a few people and the overall seating capacity at each place has been reduced by around 80%. In addition, patrons are asked to wear masks unless they are eating, drinking, or seated in their section. They have also added marked pathways to limit foot traffic.
The Signal, like many venues in the Chattanooga area, relies heavily on live artists. Of course, many of these artists may not be coming back for a while. The entertainment industry has been open about the fact that artists and performers aren’t expected to put on live shows until they feel safe and comfortable.
Right now, the idea of safety and comfort looks like a vaccine. However, for some performers, they are open to having a show at a venue where they feel guidelines have been properly followed. With The Signal, venue manager Allison Ciccarelli says she will be scheduling live music shows as she is available. On November 14, they put on 10,000 Days: A Tribute to Tool.
The Tivoli has decided against live shows, for now. At the moment, they are just offering the Bobby Stone film series. They also have an option for people to rent out the theater and lobby for photoshoots. Renting out the venue for a photoshoot comes with movie tickets and vouchers for the concession stand.
Tivoli Theatre Foundation Executive Director Nick Wilkinson says it may be far into 2021 before live shows are able to come back, and limited seating for a few movies won’t do much to make back all they lost. However, he has not lost hope yet.
Wilkinson says, “Once we get back open, we’re going to be off like a rocket ship.”