Cancellations of various events in the NWT are springing up as COVID-19 sweeps through parts of the territory.

In the world of live music, this creates a troubling predicament, given crowd involvement and on-stage interactions.

According to the indoor and outdoor gathering section of the GNWT website — last updated July 21, 2021, prior to the latest COVID-19 outbreak — up to 200 people permitted to attend indoor and outdoor events.

For some, like Yellowknife musician Travis Nick, there isn’t much worry about with regards to issues surrounding live music.

“So far no new restrictions have been reintroduced,” Nick said. “So, as far as I know, permitted gigs are continuing. With the vaccination rates in YK being as high as they are, perhaps live music is no longer on the hit list to the degree that it was.

“This is speculation of course,” continued Nick. “But when you have a government that has a complete lack of transparency in regards to their decision-making process, speculation is all we have.”

For others, like Yellowknife artist Carmen Braden, the recent rise of COVID cases is cause for concern, leading to her cancelling upcoming indoor shows in the Yellowknife area.

“I had some live music events planned in September,” said Braden. “I was just feeling that, even if we wanted to try and go ahead and hope that things had calmed down, there would just be too much uncertainty and too much risk that we would be taking on, in every sense of the word.

“Most important is to keep our people here safe, (so) that was our number one decision,” she said. “Then the universe just confirmed that with all of the other news and other things that happened.”

With regards to organizations like the Yellowknife Artists Co-operative, events are holding steady for now with current regulations in place, but changes may be coming as things continue to develop.

“It keeps us on our toes,” said Sofia Grogono, the Yellowknife Artists Co-operative’s arts coordinator. “Incredible amounts of work go into our events and projects, and, at the blink of an eye, everything can be cancelled. That’s the reality that everyone is living in right now. It’s a strain on businesses and individuals.”

Grogono understands that online performances offer greater accessibility, but she’s also aware of people’s passion to take in live music in person.

“We do our best to be resilient and creative about our path forward and our backup plans,” she said. “Our contract at the Wildcat (Cafe) finishes in September, and either we move into another space, if regulations allow, or we transition online. Zoom fatigue is real though, and we’re aware of that.”

With everything going on, Grogono noted that the co-operative’s events have been received quite well by residents. It’s the organizations hope to continue this.

“The chance to gather together has become scarce,” said Grogono. “It clearly impacts our community’s mental and social well-being. It is evident when we do manage to gather (like at Ramble and Ride and Folk on the Rocks) that the need is strong and (the) public is hugely grateful for the opportunities … for now we will work with the regulations in place, which still allow for in-person.”

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