The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy


‘First socially distanced arena’ launches in UK

SSD Concerts’ Unity Arena in Newcastle will welcome 2,500 fans for a series of socially distanced open-air shows, beginning this summer

By IQ on 03 Jul 2020

Unity Arena, Newcastle Racecourse

An artist's impression of the finished arena

A new outdoor venue, billed as the UK’s first dedicated socially distanced music venue, will launch in Newcastle, in the north-east of England, this summer.

Unity Arena, sponsored by Virgin Money, will be located at Newcastle Racecourse in Gosforth Park, around four miles from Newcastle city centre, and open soon after its first line-up announcement on Tuesday 7 July.

The venue, the brainchild of regional promoter SSD Concerts, will be built in partnership with production company Engine No 4 (Parklife, Kendal Calling). SSD, the organiser of This is Tomorrow festival, promises a completely socially distanced “parking-to-platform experience” offering “full safety” for concertgoers.

Punters will stand on viewing platforms placed two metres apart, with food and drinks available for preorder. A one-way system, meanwhile, will allow for the “safe and full use” of toilet facilities.

Unity Arena will have a capacity of 2,500, a spokesperson tells IQ, with organisers promising a “festival experience” with “full production”.

“This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with it”

Steve Davis, managing director of SSD, says: “Since all of our scheduled concerts have been postponed to later in the year and all venues in the city closed, the staff at SSD had a willingness to continue.

“We can’t be without music during these times, so our only thought has been how can we bring music back to the British public safely and responsibly.

“We have been hosting loads of live sessions and DJ sets across our social media, supporting local artists and raising money for the NHS. Now, we’re taking it one step further as the UK slowly comes out of lockdown.

“Working with our brand new partner Virgin Money has been exciting, and we think, even in these hard times, the people of the north east will come out in their thousands to see the artists they love.”

Helen Page, group brand and marketing director of Virgin Money, adds: “This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans. We’re looking forward to partnering with the Unity Arena on this event near to our Virgin Money home in Gosforth.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.