Courtesy TempleLive – Mike Brown
The Great Sphinx of Arkansas: Mike Brown of TempleLive in front of its Fort Smith, Ark., property, a former Masonic Temple. The company also operates two other Mason venues in Wichita and Cleveland.
At a press conference on Thursday (May 14), GM Mike Brown of TempleLive in Fort Smith, Ark., finally had to capitulate to the state of Arkansas and cancel Travis McCready’s show scheduled for Friday, May 15. This came after the state literally removed the venue’s permits and licenses from its walls, which they said would not be returned until TempleLive canceled the show. Per the state’s directive, TempleLive is now applying to push the show three days later to May 18 when the state is allowing theaters, arenas and other indoor venues to reopen with some restrictions. The reasoning behind the state insisting that the show be staged three days later boggles the mind. However the decision was derived, it compelled Brown to deliver a fiery and eloquent speech filled with righteous indignation and addressing many of the issues facing our industry, here’s the full text:
I’d like to thank everyone for coming out today, I’m Mike Brown with TempleLive. We the people: it’s three amazing words and they’ve been trampled on today.
Earlier today, the Alcohol Beverage Commission from the state Of Arkansas showed up with a document. They physically entered the building, ripped our permits and licenses off the wall and virtually shut us down from conducting business in this facility that we’ve built and developed here in this city. They did this all the time while we were evaluating and having discussions at the state level over a cease and desist order that was issued by the Arkansas Department of Health.
So, basically we’ve been punished for thinking about doing something while we’re evaluating. It’s very “Minority Report” and “Westworld,” which I thought were pieces of fiction that are now a reality in this country and this state. In that same document, however, they said if we would publicly announce that we will move the show to May 18th, that they would bring our licenses back and let us continue doing business. It doesn’t feel like America to me. It’s disheartening.
So, due to the actions by the state of Arkansas, the Arkansas Health Department and the governor’s office, we are applying to move the show to May 18th to be in compliance with the directive from the Arkansas Department of Health and the governor’s office. Against our will.
We’ve been told that requiring masks to be worn on May 18th was the only thing that we were not compliant with as far as the guidelines. We are in the process of submitting that application, and at the point that we have approval from the state, we will make those changes to that show date to happen on May 18th. Your tickets that you’ve bought will be good for that show.
The entertainment world has been watching this from around the world. We’ve fielded questions and interviews from China, Japan, Scotland, Ireland, the UK, Spain, everywhere. The people in the entertainment industry, like Travis and Lauren and Lance Dierker and everybody with our production team, they’re out of work across the country because we’ve shut down for this virus. And I’m not taking it lightly, there’ve been lives lost and people’s grandparents, uncles, friends, sisters, cousins, brothers – it’s sad. But we can’t stop what we’re doing.
– Mike Brown
Rocking the podium: TempleLive GM Mike Brown, with his daughter Lauren, a musician, speaking at a press conference on May 14 to announce the May 15 Travis McCready show was called off and that the venue is applying to move the show to May 18.
The cases, as you can see, are slowing in the state in Arkansas and Sebastian County, where we are. I think we’re at 15 cases with zero deaths. We implemented safety protocols beyond what the CDC guidelines were and we were still restricted from having the event on the 15th, which we did not schedule, as it’s been thought of, on purpose after the fact. We announced the show in late April in light of believing that on May 4th we would be given the same privileges as places of worship to congregate inside of a building with no restrictions on capacity and just to follow CDC guidelines on distancing and sanitizers.
In this building that was acquired by Beaty Capital Group in November of 2014, there were two and a half years of a lot of sweat, a few tears, a little blood. And the thing got built and we opened up August 25th of 2017 with an Arkansas boy named Joe Nichols. Since then we’ve had people from music history, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam. We’ve had Grammy winners, Ashley McBryde, the Rival Sons. And they’re anxious to get back here. The agent community has been reaching out to us as the first venue to try to bring something back to normalcy. And we have some significant acts that typically wouldn’t play in a venue this size that are watching right now to see how the state of Arkansas is treating artists, venue operators, and just in general the people that are here trying to make a living to feed their family.
We had an act in here; Lance brought this up to me last night, The Hu. They’re a bunch of guys from Mongolia. They don’t speak any English. They had one guy out of nine or 10 in their crew that did speak English and they jumped on stage and they played a bunch of music that no one from this country had really ever heard of before to a virtually sold-out crowd. And for that 90 minutes, those people stood in here, didn’t understand a word that was being said, they forgot about their dead, their worries, their passions that were upsetting, anything that was bothering them, and it brought them together. People need to get back to that. Music is important. The arts are important. Theater’s important.
At Cody Jinks’ show we had a little boy that stood right over here. Couldn’t have been more than 7. Had a black T-shirt on that said, “Raised on Jinks,” with a big cowboy hat. It was his first show. How long are we going to keep kids from having their first show? Got backstage, got to meet Cody, went home with a custom piece of art that we do. It was fantastic. Ashley McBryde, another Arkansas Grammy winner, has been in this room. Can’t wait to get back.
We just want it to be treated fairly in regard to how other organizations are being permitted to gather. At the end of the day, we fought the law and the law won. I’m going to let Lance Beaty speak to our position going forward. Thank you.