A 40,000 square foot warehouse in southeast Los Angeles has been hosting concerts throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The stage was created by the same company who built Coachella’s main stage in 2019, the lighting and LED wall are a similar festival quality, and the sound is huge. Yet there are only a dozen people working the venue—all of whom are operating at a distance with masks—and while the band is performing at full energy, there’s no audience.
This is Social Sanctuary: a venue/studio designed for COVID-19 risk mitigation by some of Southern California’s top music industry professionals. Social Sanctuary has produced approximately 60 events since April, bringing bands, DJs and even comedians into a highly controlled space to record “safe at home” shows for streaming on social media. Their goal is to far exceed the traditional in-home production many music fans have become used to while viewing livestreams during the pandemic, and provide an outlet for professionals whose industry has been decimated by the coronavirus. Live entertainment will be among the last pieces of “normal life” to resume—with many experts looking toward 2021 to begin tours, festivals and mid-sized shows—and the industry stands to lose billions in revenue in the interim. For the expansive network of event production professionals whose work dried up following nationwide shelter-in-place orders in March, Social Sanctuary is not only a proof of concept for post-COVID event production, but a return to normalcy.