Fresh Initiatives and Testing
Guest Feature: Tim Monkiewicz
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This week we sat down (virtually of course) with Tim Monkiewicz, co-founder of BangOn!, a company focused on building “unique interactive music and art festivals.” Tim answered questions about his recent production success with In My Elements, a socially distanced retreat.
The event stemmed from the need to bring people together. "I’m in New York City and I can see the building next to me with over 200 people gathered on a rooftop, with no masks on. People are going to gather, whether they are allowed to or not,” Monkiewicz explained to Billboard in a recent article. “Our goal is to get people tested - if they are going to gather, let’s get them tested. We’re not trying to throw events to party, we’re trying to find a way in this new world to provide jobs and get an entire industry restarted, but on a small[er] scale.” With In My Elements, the shift from 10,000 to 225 people actually turned out to be an “easy” transition, all things considered.
The reduced capacity event (225 fans and 25 staff members) fell well within the state guidelines for gatherings, but the team still wanted to go the extra mile to create the safest environment possible for fans. How’d they do it? With a two part-testing system as the center of gravity. First, a negative COVID-19 test (pre-event) was required to unlock the remote camp’s address. The test was incorporated into the ticket cost, and it seemed that fans were willing to pay the extra costs because they were eager to get back to a live event, and also genuinely cared about prioritizing their safety. Fans were put at ease with a comprehensive refund policy, too. Should the event be cancelled or moved, or should a ticketholder test positive prior to the event, they would receive a full refund for their ticket. Should a patron test positive upon their site arrival, they would receive a full refund, $150 to cover travel expenses, and 50% off a future Elements event. Through this rigorous testing process, two positive cases were identified during the first phase (pre-event). The second phase (tests upon site arrival) utilized rapid testing, where results were produced in 15 minutes. No positive tests were reported at the door during the second phase - a great success! Artists and staff members were held to the same standards as everyone else.
After in-depth reviews of best practices with medical professionals, the Elements team decided to create Tested Contained Retreats LLC. This venture rounds up medical specialists to collaborate with producers so they can create safe event plans. With an effective two-part testing system in their back pocket, they look forward to implementing similar procedures at other events in the coming months. Strong medical partnerships were influential in creating these successful procedures, and are sure to change the way we all work on events in a post-COVID-19 world.
Customer service was the name of the game when it came to enforcing social distancing measures. The team made social distancing FUN through activities like mask-making and creative, socially distanced greetings. Social media allowed for safety messaging to fans pre-event, and in-person “classes” set the standard for behavior at the event. It's all about respect!
As we learn to work within this indefinite state, Tim’s goal is to create a road map that will help producers compile a new set of standards. This event was not meant to drive sales and was viewed as an investment in learning how to best operate during this time. Tim’s team is looking forward to the future and the opportunity to help run events in the safest ways possible. He left us with a hopeful reveal - “We are excited to announce our testing company, Tested Contained Retreats, is now doing 2-part COVID-19 testing for other events in the northeast. Next we will be working with Jake Resnicow for a LGBTQ+ focused concept.”