COVID-19 And Its Impact On Coachella Music Festival

COVID-19, a disease that is caused by the novel SARS-CoV-19, has significantly affected the world. The disease whose first cases were reported in a Chinese city called Wuhan in December 2019 with scientists postulating that it originated from pangolins and bats and spilled to humans, has since spread to different parts of the world. The spread of the disease has adversely affected the Coachella music festival.

Coachella is a popular music festival that began in 1999. Rick Van Santen and Paul Tollet were the co-founders of the music festival. Presently, Goldenvoice organizes the music festival at Empire Polo Club, California each year where art installations and sculptures are exhibited. Besides, different artists are invited to perform pop, indie, electronic, dance, rock, and hip hop music. In the music festival industry, Coachella has a great reputation as the trendsetter. Nonetheless, the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020, by the World Health Organization adversely affected the music festival.

The initial fears that COVID-19 would spread in Coachella Valley were raised by one of the residents in the county named Stella Young. Young started the petition to sensitize people about the spread of Coronavirus if Coachella 2020 music festival would proceed as initially planned. More than 16,000 people signed the petition to pressurize the local authorities to ban the expected large assembly to curtail the spread of Coronavirus.

Concerns over the spread of the virus were also raised by Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a public health officer at Riverside County, California. On March 8, 2020, Dr. Cameron Kaiser declared a public health emergency following the discovery of the first Coronavirus case in Riverside County. The first case of Coronavirus in the county was locally transmitted. Riverside County admitted the patient to a local hospital. One day after the first case of Coronavirus was reported, 6 more patients were diagnosed with the virus. The first 4 cases had been traced to Coachella Valley hence raising concerns of health and safety risks if the festival was allowed to proceed.

Cases of COVID-19 in the county eventually led to the postponement of the music festival. The festival was planned to take place in April 2020 in 2 installments. The first installment was planned on April 10 and the second one on April 17. Nonetheless, the festival was rescheduled to take place on October 16-18, 2020. Thus, the festival was postponed for 6 months over concerns that Coronavirus would easily spread due to large gatherings of people.

The postponement of the festival affected the organizers, temporary employees, and musicians who were expected to entertain revelers. Goldenvoice, the organizer of the Coachella music festival felt the impact of the postponement. The organizer was compelled to refund all the people who had purchased tickets for April dates or extend the validity to October dates. This translated to lost income for the organizer of the festival.

Similarly, over 150 musical acts planned to take place on April dates were canceled. As a result, the musicians who were expected to perform during the festival were affected. The musicians who were expected to perform during the April festival were Calvin Harris, Travis Scot, Big Sean, Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, and Rage Against the Machine among others. Also, the rescheduling of the festival led to the loss of temporary employment opportunities. Different temporary workers who were expected to serve over 125,000 revelers attending the popular music festival would be adversely affected.

The cancellation of the festival following the health and safety risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic will not only affect the revelers but also the economy of Indo where the festivals are usually held. Indo is a town in Riverside County, California. The Coachella music festival usually generates a lot of revenue for Indo. In 2016, for instance, the festival generated over $106 million for businesses in Indo and another $3.18 million in the form of ticket taxes. Apart from the local economy, the music festival also benefits the global economy. The festival generated over $403 million to the global economy in 2016. As such, the cancellation of the festival amid COVID-19 is will significantly disrupt the local and global economy.

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