III Points Festival

III Points Finally Returns with COVID Testing Requirements in Place

III Points saw little pushback when it announced it will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
III Points saw little pushback when it announced it will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Photo by Karli Evans
When this year's III Points lineup was first announced, Quibi was still an anticipated streaming platform, the country was slogging through Donald Trump's first impeachment trial, and the U.S. had just confirmed its first case of a little-known novel coronavirus that had sickened 300 people and killed six others in Asia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's statement came within hours of the III Points team's lineup announcement, and no one could have predicted how the former would affect the latter in the weeks that followed.

Initially scheduled for the beginning of May 2020, III Points was, perhaps fittingly, pushed back three times by evolving pandemic conditions. Having finally been rescheduled to October 22-23 — in the wake of the Delta variant surge that dealt promoters yet another unexpected blow this summer — III Points recently announced that attendees will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours or, alternatively, proof of full vaccination.

In early September, Billboard reported that promoters in Texas and Florida were using negative testing — with vaccination cards presented in lieu of test results — as a loophole to get around vaccination passport bans in both states. The Adrienne Arsht Center recently instituted a similar policy.

It's a decision that III Points cofounder David Sinopoli did not make lightly. Speaking to New Times just days ahead of the festival, Sinopoli sounds optimistic yet world-weary. He does not hide his excitement about III Points 2021 finally happening, but he can barely camouflage the trepidation of someone whose passion project barely survived the past year and a half.

If III Points were purely a commercial operation, he tells New Times, "I don't think we would be here. I think we would have folded." He credits what he calls his team's "blind passion" — their insistence on forging ahead despite the discouraging news and conditions — with saving one of Miami's most beloved cultural events.

The festival has a well-documented history of surviving acts of God. In 2016, the festival went on despite the looming threat of Hurricane Matthew, but not before a slate of performers — including headliners LCD Soundsystem — canceled, citing travel disruptions. "When it comes to shit you can't control, you have to try and remain positive," Sinopoli told New Times at the time.

The team learned there were some conditions they could control in this instance — even when it came to a virus threat that has proven to be a moving target. In addition to instituting the testing requirement, III Points will take place entirely outdoors this year. Ongoing construction inside Mana Wynwood also played a role in the decision. Sinopoli confirms the festival has nearly doubled its footprint, taking up nearly four city blocks to make space for attendees who are ready to venture out to see live music but maybe aren't quite prepared to dive face-first into a crowd of carefree, unmasked revelers.

"We don't know — consciously and subconsciously — how this pandemic has affected other people," he says. "We just wanted to give as many options to people depending on how the last year-and-a-half has been for them."

Throughout our conversation, Sinopoli takes great pains to avoid wading into political territory. But the coronavirus pandemic has, of course, become inextricably tied to politics. That made it all the more surprising when the testing requirement announcement was met with an overwhelmingly positive reaction. A few naysayers predictably popped up in the festival's comment section.

Asked to quantify how many refund requests the festival received after announcing the policy, he estimates "less than 100" before revising his answer: "Maybe less than 50."

He doesn't sound too concerned about the small number of objectors. "It's very easy to get a test these days," he says, and he should know — as owner and operator of Club Space, he has kept the downtown venue running by requiring employees to get tested on a weekly basis.

"There really shouldn't have been a lot of pushback from people," he adds, "and if they want to go to this festival, take one step — make sure that you're good. I think it's fair at this moment where we're still operating in a very weird, crazy time. And maybe we're on the way out of it, but we still have to be very sensitive on how we go about things."

III Points. Friday, October 22, and Saturday, October 23, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-573-0371; manawynwood.com. Tickets cost $89 to $319 via iiipoints.com.
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Celia Almeida is the digital editor of American Way and the former arts and music editor of Miami New Times. Her writing has been featured in Venice, Paper, and Billboard; and she co-hosts Too Much Love on Jolt Radio.
Contact: Celia Almeida