By Gavin Gibbon
Dan Bolton revealed his agency lost work within 24 hours as a result of coronavirus restrictions
News that concerts and live events can resume in Dubai has been warmly welcomed by the Dubai-based Dan Bolton Creative Management Agency, which lost AED2.5 million worth of orders within 24 hours as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown measures enforced earlier this year.
A government directive issued last week gave the green light for concerts and live events to resume in Dubai, under stringent health and safety guidelines, which include restrictions on capacity and social distancing and full sanitisation and thermal screening of everyone entering the event.
Dan Bolton founded the agency in 2015 and expanded operations at the start of the year with the launch of the BE Experiential Production Agency.
He admitted the announcement has come at the right time as the entertainment industry attempts to recover from months of lockdown and curfew restrictions.
“Everything we do involves people so the fact that we couldn’t do anything that gathers people has been a challenge. We’ve been in lockdown, there’s been redundancies and closures of businesses across the UAE. We lost 99.9 percent of all of our business in the space of 24 hours,” he said.
Bolton has previously worked on the opening and closing ceremonies of the South East Asian Games in the Philippines in 2019 as a segment producer; he was artist director for the inauguration of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017; and creative producer for the AFC Champions League pre-match opening ceremony in 2016.
He was also heavily involved in planning the entertainment for Expo 2020, which was one of many casualties of the Covid-19 global pandemic and has been postponed until 2021, and worked on the special ‘one-year-to-go’ concerts that were held in 2019 across all seven emirates.
After investing around AED500,000 on new staff and systems, he admitted he had pencilled in 2020 to be “the year” for the company.
“I think for the first time in my entire life, especially as a new business, we’d covered all of our overheads up until April 2021. We were solid, we’d secured business, we could finance things, we could hire the staff. We’d got into a really solid position and 2020 was going to be our year to make some money, do great projects and celebrate,” he said.
“The eyes of the world were on Dubai. Many of our clients that we work with internationally were looking to do stuff here, partners we’d worked on projects before. There was lots of stuff meant to be happening and it all just came to an end,” he added.
However, now that events are allowed to take place, he is forecasting a strong end to the year.
He said: “As long as we’re allowed to do events, I actually think that we’re going to be extremely busy. That’s judging by the conversations we’ve been having in the last few days. As long as we can still do business and there’s no further lockdowns or restrictions.
“I think the biggest challenge that we have right now is that we’re still in summer, which is traditionally a quiet period anyway, so everything that we’re looking to do is looking to kick off in the beginning of October.”
As part of the recovery, one of the projects Bolton is behind is a music festival, planned for October, complete with solo performers, bands, creative artists and DJs, under strict health and safety protocols.
He explained: “It’s going to be like a weekend takeover. So we’re going to work with a hotel brand and basically create multiple experiences that create a kind of festival environment, but within the confines of the restrictions that we have – obviously there will be social distancing and capacity audiences and obviously not the traditional festival.
“It will be a small, controlled festival, within the guidelines of Covid, looking at programming locally based musicians and talent and DJs and artists, to get them back to work quickly because none of them have been working since March.
“We’re having it so it’s very seated, very organised, very safe. Just so we can support Dubai’s endeavours to restart and get things going again, but to do it in a very conscious way. We don’t want to be perceived as being irresponsible.”
Despite remaining tight-lipped about the venue, which will be in Downtown Dubai, Bolton said the line-up will include visual artists, DJs, independent solo musicians and musical acts (groups).