The Industry’s Comeback: Conversations and Considerations for Live Event Safety


LEO hosted its quarterly webinar, The Industry’s Comeback: Conversations and Considerations for Live Event Safety. Moderated by April Harbour, Director of Festivals and Public Events at LEO, the webinar featured an esteemed panel of experts to help planners and producers gain the confidence needed to return to live and hybrid events, safely.

We explored key considerations for stepping through an event from start to finish, including:

  • Registration, ticketing, and credentials
  • Event planning for capacities
  • Attendee communication
  • Vendors and site operations
  • Touchpoints

Our expert panelists, Joy Brown, Director of Bookings and Event Operations, Orpheum Theatre Group; Dr. Lamar Angelo, Training Officer, Memphis Fire Department; Dr. Bruce Randolph, Health Officer, Shelby County Health Department; and Drew Wolff, Regional Director, The IRONMAN Group, joined the conversation to share their perspectives on live event safety.

Q1) What are your top three items that you consider when executing an event in different cities?

Drew Wolff: Each state has different processes, which is a big challenge for most planners. The key is to have compassion for the communities in which the event is held. The community wants to help you have a successful event. Follow any key metrics that the community has set and make a plan to communicate that plan with the community. Understanding what is important to each community and defining what you are trying to accomplish will help you with these processes.


Q2) What is your feedback as it relates to the different tactics event planners & producers are implementing from on-site COVID-19 testing and vaccine passport apps?

Dr. Randolph: There is a great deal of discussion around these topics, and the housing of medical data can become very complicated. On-site testing includes antigen testing, which takes 15-30 to produce a result. This means that you will need to employ a provider to issue the test, you will need to create a plan for organizing attendees as they wait, and you’ll need a plan for those who test positive.


Q3) In terms of public health, are venues receiving increased questions in terms of venue policy during pandemic events?

Joy Brown: Yes, we are getting many questions on safety and COVID-19 precautions from guests, tour managers, and promoters across many different states. Each time a new directive comes forth, we contact our local health department to find out exactly what changes for the venue. Our website features a full COVID-19 precaution page that covers sanitation, seating, ticketing, and more.


Q4) Is it the responsibility of the event planner to reach out to the Fire Department to make sure there is a fire safety plan at any given venue?

Dr. Angelo: The venue is required by code to be in contact with the local fire department. Although, as a planner, you may not convey to the venue the exact setup you have in mind, and the décor can make a big difference as it relates to traffic and social distancing. Overall, it does not hurt for planners to make relationships with the fire department.


Q5) Do you think that herd immunity impacts event demographics? (i.e., certain demographics will be more apt to get vaccinated, and others will not). Is that something we should take into consideration on an event-by-event basis, or does our preparation need to be that granular?

Dr. Randolph: It needs to be more granular because it is difficult to determine who is vaccinated and who is not. You can also look at the overall percentage of vaccination rate of the community to gain a better understanding of herd immunity in any given community.


Q6) Do you utilize a safety officer, or has someone on staff been trained in a similar capacity?

Joy Brown: At our venue, we have formed a task force with education dedicated to COVID-19 protocols, health and safety regulations, and continuous updates on the local health department mandates. There are plans to train several task force members as COVID-19 compliance officers as the venue’s reopening plan is developed.


Q7) Can you explain occupancy restrictions and how those differ between indoor and outdoor venues? Where are we now, and where are we headed?

Dr. Angelo: Occupancy load is set by the building department, and there is a formula to determine capacity per square foot. The health department negates capacity ultimately, and the fire department enforces any limits set forth. – Dr. Angelo

Dr. Randolph: Early in the pandemic, we limited capacity to a percentage. In the last few health directives, we have moved away from percentages and toward a limit based on how many people can be in a space while socially distanced. The same also goes for outdoor events.


Q8) For open-air, athletic events, how do your COVID-19 protocols differ from those of other venues?

Drew Wolff: In some ways, we try to mimic what you might expect at an indoor venue and as a good safety measure and to reduce confusion. We have introduced a stricter arrival process with time blocks, which is something we will likely continue post-pandemic. We have also created athlete-only areas to separate the public as another safety measure.


Q9) What are some examples you’ve seen of how venues are utilizing their extra space, now that capacity is limited?

Joy Brown: Several venues are turning to the ever-popular virtual platform, allowing artists to use stages and other unique areas in their space. Many venues are also offering their spaces to host micro-events at a fraction of the price.


LEO Events is ready to produce your next live or hybrid event in accordance with local and state guidelines. If you are interested in viewing the full webinar on-demand, email us at