LAST week, we ran a story that caught up with several local music venues to see how they were navigating the pandemic and the uncertainty around booking and staging concerts for the foreseeable future.
One venue that, due to deadline constraints, wasn’t able to be included in the story was Victory North.
Savannah’s newest music venue has been going strong since opening last year, bringing in national touring acts and putting on some pretty great shows over the course of their run so far.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing and things looking questionable for the future of live music everywhere, we wanted to see where everything stood at Victory North.
Owner Mohamed Eldibany, who is also a physician and splits his time between Chicago and Savannah, was kind enough to answer some questions about his venue and the challenges it has faced.
First, I want to ask a question that’s pretty broad but purposefully so. As a venue owner in Savannah and on a personal level, how have you been doing through all of this?
I am in a unique position. I am a physician and a venue owner. CoVid 19 has affected both. Elective medical work is essentially at a full stop. Venues income is down to zero.
Someone likened this public health crisis of taking away a venue’s business as eminent domain, for the public good. We cannot open up until the crisis is controlled and it is safe for the public to be in large crowds.
Have you had experience with trying to secure grants or loans? What has that process been like?
The process is ongoing and I am waiting for a response.
The decisions that have been made locally and statewide have had perhaps the biggest impact on bars and venues just based on the fact that there’s so much less flexibility (whereas restaurants are doing curbside, delivery etc). What has your strategy been in terms of weathering the constant changes?
I am awaiting guidance from the government and the industry leaders regarding occupancy and operation standards. I am considering my own plans to institute safety measures.
We are lucky because we had completed the renovation and construction a few months ago. For instance, our HVAC is brand new and equipped with a sophisticated bipolar ionization air purifier system.
There are many questions and several are related to how much the public is willing to tolerate, sacrifice and follow in order to attend and see live events. Mid size rooms are likely to come back earlier than larger venues.
VN indoor is divided into a ground floor and mezzanine and we have a large outdoor courtyard. We can accommodate a relatively large crowd with some distancing. The courtyard can host outdoor events. We can project the band performing on the stage to a screen in the courtyard.
We are open to ideas and open to work with anyone one with creative ideas to host events and work with us.
What happens next? Assuming that life begins returning to some level of normalcy in the next month or so, where do you go from there? Do you start putting shows on the books?
I am hoping to host a few shows in the fall. I hope that the public will support us by attending shows
If you had to estimate the earliest you’d start doing shows again, just based on the current timeline of orders being lifted, when might that be?
Hopefully Fall 2020. This is a quick response, but in all honesty there is so much speculation at this time.