Lance Beaty has decided to comply with Arkansas’ cease and desist order mandating he cancel a concert Friday (May 15) at his TempleLive venue in downtown Fort Smith. The Travis McCready concert is set three days before a May 18 date that allows events in indoor venues.
Beaty, owner of Beaty Capital Group which owns and manages TempleLive, had said the state’s decision was based on politics and power and not science. During at 1 p.m. Thursday press conference, TempleLive spokesman Mike Brown said the concert would be moved to May 18 “against our will.”
Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith sent a 4-page cease and desist order Tuesday to TempleLive suggesting Beaty and others could face “administrative penalties, a civil or criminal fine or imprisonment if convicted, or all of the above.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during his Thursday (May 14) afternoon daily COVID-19 briefing he was “grateful they decided to do the right thing” and change the concert date.
Even before Beaty announced his decision, officials with the Alcoholic Beverage Control arrived Thursday morning at TempleLive to seek “summary suspension” of Beaty’s liquor license. The printed order from ABC noted “that emergency action is required. The business is not operating in the public interest and poses a danger to the public’s health, safety, and welfare.” The order established a 2 p.m. meeting, June 3 in Little Rock to determine if the license should be fully revoked.
“Should Temple Live provide public confirmation that the concert scheduled for May 15 will not proceed, the permit will be returned,” Scott Hardin, ABC spokesman, told Talk Business & Politics prior to the TempleLive 1 p.m. announcement.
John Scott, a partner with the Connor and Winters law firm who is representing TempleLive, called on the ABC to “today” return the license. He noted that the ABC order said the license would be returned if the date was changed, and hoped the state would stick to its word.
“Following the announcement today from Temple Live, the ABC permit will be returned prior to Monday,” Hardin told Talk Business & Politics Thursday afternoon.
TempleLive, operating in the former Masonic Temple in downtown Fort Smith, announced April 23 that singer-guitarist Travis McCready, formerly with the Southern Rock Band Bishop Gunn, will perform an acoustic set at 8 p.m. on May 15. TempleLive promoters said they have in place numerous safety protocols that go further than even those for churches and other indoor gatherings. The concert has gained national attention with publications addressing the conflict between TempleLive and state health officials including Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and Bloomberg.
Talk Business & Politics reporter Tina Dale contributed to this report.