AEG Presents Mandates Full Vaccination for Concert-Goers and Staff

AEG will mandate proof of vaccination starting in October.
AEG will mandate proof of vaccination starting in October. Michael Martin
In what will surely be a trendsetting move across the music industry, Anschutz Entertainment Group Presents, Denver's dominant concert promoter, announced today that it will begin requiring all concert-goers and event staff to provide proof of full vaccination before entering any of the company's clubs, theaters and festivals.

The announcement came a day after Dead & Company announced it would be requiring vaccination proof of COVID-19 tests and the same day the Underground Music Showcase issued a similar policy.

Owned by Republican billionaire Philip Anschutz, AEG operates massive events like the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and Firefly Music Festival. The company is the second-largest promoter of live events, after Live Nation, in the country.

Live Nation has announced that it will allow artists to establish their own COVID-19 policies and will require employees to be vaccinated, though the company has made no comprehensive mandates as of this writing.

“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” notes Jay Marciano, chief operating officer of AEG and chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, in a statement. “Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again. We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one. We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers.”

This is major news in Denver, where AEG Presents: Rocky Mountains operates the Bluebird, Ogden and Gothic theaters, the Mission Ballroom, 1STBANK Center and Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre, and throws the majority of shows at Denver-owned Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Sculpture Park. The heavyweight also books shows at the Dillon Amphitheater, the Gerald Ford Amphitheater in Vail, and the Terry Bison Ranch in Cheyenne.

The company acknowledges that its new policy will not work in every state, as some prohibit private companies from mandating that customers prove their vaccination status.

"Certain states’ regulations may override our mandate, or a few artists may not want to immediately get on board with the plan, but we know that using our platform to take a strong position on vaccinations can make an impact," says Shawn Trell, chief operating officer and general counsel of the company, in the statement. "The message we want to send is simple and clear: the only way to be as safe as possible is to require everyone to be vaccinated. And we’re confident that others who haven’t been ready to make this full commitment yet will follow our lead.”

The policy is expected to go into effect October 1 or earlier. There is no set end date to it, and requirements are subject to change as public-health conditions, infection rates and variants shift, along with government regulation.

Both Democratic and Republican officials have been less active than the music industry in enacting policies that are current with public-health recommendations for live events.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris