One week on from concert venues being allowed to reopen, social distancing means that very few have been able to do so, leading to calls for further government support
For singer-songwriter Frank Turner, an audience singalong is one of the most affecting parts of his live show. For his return to the stage on the day the UK government allowed venues to reopen last weekend, though, he had to try a different tack. “The audience were not supposed to sing along,” he says, because of the danger of coronavirus being spread. “If the crowd started to kick off I had to politely tell them to calm down, which really goes against my performance instincts. I even tried to get a ‘hum-along’ going at one point.”
Infectious viruses and hum-alongs are just two of the issues currently facing the live music industry. The announcement from the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, last Friday meant indoor concert venues could once again put on shows – delayed from a planned 1 August reopening. Today, the government announced the 135 recipients of its emergency fund to help grassroots venues. But with social distancing requiring tricky logistics and limiting box-office takings, very few venues have yet opened their doors. Mark Davyd, head of the charity Music Venue Trust, warned last week that “only around 100 of the country’s 900 small music venues would be able to operate under the current restrictions”.