Richmond music venues, artists hope to rebound from pandemic

Posted at 12:02 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 12:02:24-05

RICHMOND, Va — The Richmond music scene is coming back after it was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With many people getting the COVID vaccine, it has become safer to reopen public spaces such as concert venues, albeit with different rules. according to health experts. Many venues had to shut their doors in response to the pandemic and quarantine measures. Those venues also endured hardships when they opened back up in the summer.

During the pandemic, Kathy Jacobs, general manager of the Canal Club in downtown Richmond, had to make decisions concerning safety.

“We decided to do the masks initially, and then went ahead and required patrons to be vaccinated or provide a negative test within 72 hours from a medical facility,” she said. “That’s where we are now.”

Individuals should get vaccinated and wear masks when attending larger gatherings, according to current CDC guidelines for public gatherings.

Despite public support of venues reopening their doors, some people are reluctant to comply with their COVID safety protocols.

“We’ve had people who’ve purchased tickets, but they didn’t read the information that lists the requirements or even think that they would have to have those requirements,” Jacobs said. “I’ve had people come to the door with a negative COVID test, but their names are nowhere on the document.”

The rules for in-person photography have also changed due to the pandemic and photographers have had to change with it, according to freelance photographer Erik Haugen.

“Pre-pandemic, it was easier to adjust people,” Haugen said. “You could move and adjust people to form that perfect picture, and it became difficult to have people move the way you want because you’re six feet away and you have this image in your mind that you can’t quite execute.”

Pandemic protocols took their toll on artists themselves as well.

As venues shut down, performers were forced to find a new medium through which to connect to their fans.

Ty Street, a DJ from Virginia Beach who specializes in country music, took a creative approach to connect with his social media following.

“To make it fun, I set up my live broadcast in the playroom in my house,” Street said. “If you were looking at my live broadcasts, my setting would be nothing but toys and everything around, and you can see my kids just in and out of the room and having fun.”

While many artists did live broadcasts from their homes, Street believes he showed a more intimate angle by including his family.

“You were in my household, you got to see my family, you got to see everything,” Street said. “There were instances when I had to walk off and go attend to a kid real quick, you know, just to be a parent. It offers you a different angle.”

When the vaccination came out and venues began opening back up, it was a long road for many to get back to where they were pre-pandemic. For the Canal Club, money was an issue at first, but many of the staff came back and helped get the venue running again, according to Jacobs.

“We did get a couple of grants that enabled us to do some work that we wanted to do for years,” Jacobs said. “All of our staff has been absolutely wonderful. Some of our staff came in and worked for three months with no pay.”

By Hunter Britt (Special to

This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between and VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.



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