Pilot concert ‘does not provide blueprint for the live music industry’

A pilot concert which trialled safety measures for the return of live music did not succeed in providing a blueprint for the industry, the manager of the venue which hosted the event has said.

The Clapham Grand hosted a socially-distanced performance by the singer Frank Turner on Tuesday night to an audience less than 20% of the size of the venue’s normal capacity, which has been reduced from 1,250 to 200.

Ally Wolf, who is the manager of the south London venue, said it would not be financially viable for the vast majority of venues to put on shows modelled on the Government-backed pilot.

First Government requested live show pilot
(Corrine Cumming/PA)

He said that profits could not exceed operating costs even before a fee for the performer is factored in.

While the concert was “great” and it was pleasing to see customers and staff back inside the venue, he said he did not want to get “caught up in the jubilation of finally being able to put on a show”.

The pilot “is not a financial model that the industry can remotely rely upon to get to be sustainable”, he told the PA news agency.

“It can’t be the future for live music, it can’t be the future for venues.”

The model would be particularly challenging to implement for smaller venues, Mr Wolf said.

The Government therefore needs to continue to provide support for the entire time that venues are not able to operate at their capacities, he added.

A £1.57 billion support package for the arts has already been announced by the Culture Secretary.

During the pilot, while crowds normally stand at the Clapham Grand, seating and tables were put in to allow for social distancing.

Audience members were able to order drinks to their tables and they were asked to arrive at staggered intervals.

One-way systems were put in place around the venue and people had their temperature checked as they entered the building.

Prior to his performance, Turner said it would be a different experience playing in front of an audience with the new measures in place.

“A huge part of performance is the energy exchange with the crowd and as a performer you feed off that energy that is coming back at you,” the singer told the PA news agency.

“You put it out, it comes back and it becomes a kind of virtuous circle and that is what makes a great show.

“It is obviously going to be much harder to slip into that groove for many obvious reasons.”

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