Samoan Meeting House

Why did BUMS decide to hold the first COVID-safe jam in Deception Bay? Why not Coorparoo or Wavell Heights? There’s a a bit more to consider when planning a safe jam for all now.

Venue Discovery

Back in pre-COVID days, BUMS member Peter Grace and his wife Jenny were on a bike ride around Deception Bay (on the Redcliffe Peninsula north of Brisbane). They chanced to see an unusual building in the park behind the local Community Centre. A notice said it was the Maoto Fono Building or the Samoan Meeting House — and was available for hire.

You could imagine a structure like this on a Pacific Island built from natural rather than modern materials. It has lighting and power, a toilet and ample car parking. Pete’s comment was ‘this would be a good place for a jam’.

Ventilation and lots of space to spread out!

Impact of COVID

Fast forward a few months and the BUMS management committee is sifting through the Government’s guidelines for holding events like jams in a COVID safe way. How can we practice social distancing at a jam? How could we manage the number of people that might come to a jam? The committee produced a set of guidelines for holding any group event such as a jam, a workshop on a practice of a community band.

Although Deception Bay is a fair way away from where BUMS has traditionally held jams, many BUMS members live north of Brisbane and many ukulele players live on the Redcliffe Peninsula. The Samoan Meeting House sounded like a good place to hold a trial jam under COVID restrictions. An ‘outdoor’ venue with good ventilation would minimise COVID infection risks.

First COVID safe jam

Peter Grace developed a plan for holding a jam at Deception Bay following BUMS COVID guidelines. We expect this will form a template for other jam leaders to set up jams at other venues like Coorparoo, Wavell Heights and Ferny Hills. To allow as many members as possible to attend, the afternoon of Saturday 26 September was the chosen date for the jam.

Jo Kunde (Media Manager) promoted the jam to BUMS financial members on Monday 7 September and then to Associate members – and by Thursday we had reached capacity. There will be ten people leading and managing the event and 40 jam goers in the audience.

Organising a COVID safe jam

The jam will be different to the ones of the past. There will be a cordoned off COVID safe zone where chairs will be placed 1.5m apart. You will have to stay in your seat during the jam and not move the chairs. There will be a limit to the number who can attend – and it will be necessary to pre-book. We used Trybooking for this jam. If you come without a ticket you may not be able to join the jam.

BUMS Inc has a responsibility to run the jam in a COVID safe manner. If the organisers have any concerns that jam goers are not following the guidelines or we cannot manage the crowd, we reserve the right to stop the event. This might sound harsh, but we don’t want anyone to catch the virus and we don’t want to cop fines for running an unsafe event.

Future jams

The Deception Bay jam is a trial. If it is a success – both musically and safely – then we plan to run the event again. It will also form as a template for other jams in other venues. We hope to have the Northside (Wavell Heights) and Ferny Grove jams up and running soon. We miss live jams so much and can’t wait to be back together (even if 1.5m apart).