The UK government has announced that music venues and theatres in England will be allowed to reopen with social distancing measure in place from August 1.
The news was revealed by culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who said: “The UK’s performing arts sector is renowned across the world and I am pleased that we are making real progress in getting its doors reopened to the public with social distancing.
“From August, indoor theatres, music venues and performance spaces will safely welcome audiences back across the country.”
While this is a step in the right direction for the beleaguered entertainment sector, the Music Venue Trust (opens in new tab) have issued a statement warning that hosting live events with social distancing measures in place “would not be financially viable for the majority of grassroots music venues.
They say: “The government has been in talks with various organisations, including Music Venue Trust, within the live music sector with regards to pilot events being held. However, we have not received confirmation that any of these events have been authorised to take place in grassroots music venues as yet, so would question whether August 1 is a realistic date for those pilot events to have taken place and to have informed the final guidance for venues.
“It should be noted that we have already provided evidence to the government that staging live events with any level of social distancing measures would not be financially viable for the majority of grassroots music venues.
"If such socially distanced events are to be part of the progress towards normality within the sector, significant subsidies will be required if this measure is to have any noticeable impact upon the number of shows actually taking place.”
The statement concludes: “We would also note that events at the grassroots music venue level typically take between six weeks and six months to arrange, and that a notice period of two weeks is another enormous challenge to the objective of bringing back live music safely.”
News about the possible reopening of music venues and theatres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be announced in the future by the devolved administrations.
Last week, it was announced that The Deaf Institute and Gorilla in Manchester and The Welly and The Polar Bear in Hull were closing (opens in new tab) due to the fallout from the pandemic.
However, there has been some better news over the weekend, with the Manchester Evening News reporting that several potential buyers have approached The Deaf Institute and Gorilla owners Mission Mars with expressions of interest in taking over the venues.