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4,000+ socially distanced gigs to be held in UK in May/June

The UK grassroots venue sector is stepping up ahead of a planned return to full-capacity shows from 21 June

By IQ on 04 May 2021

Socially distanced gigs are possible in England from 17 May

image © Jani Snellman

A new survey has revealed the full extent to which grassroots music venues in England plan to reopen their doors from 17 May.

The survey, commissioned by Music Venue Trust (MVT) among the nearly 1,000 members of its Music Venues Alliance (MVA), reveals that 2,534 socially distanced shows are already on sale in 266 venues from 17 May 17 to 21 June, with more than 4,000 shows across over 400 venues predicted to take place across the period.

17 May begins the penultimate stage in the UK government’s roadmap to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in England before a planned return to full-capacity social activity on 21 June.

By the end of September, the survey indicates that over 17,000 full-capacity shows are confirmed to take place, with nearly 30,000 shows likely to take place in front of a combined audience of nearly seven million.

With support artists factored in, it is estimated that there will be 91,500 individual live performances during the period, offering over 300,000 work opportunities for musicians as they finally get the chance to return to paid employment.

“The grassroots sector is stepping up and putting its own time and money into answering the demand for live music”

Beverley Whitrick, strategic director of MVT, says: “It’s incredible to see the enthusiasm for getting live music back into our towns and cities being shown by venues, artists and crew. These socially distanced shows aren’t being delivered for financial return – in fact precisely the opposite. The grassroots sector is stepping up and putting its own time and money into answering the demand for live music in our communities.”

According to MVT, the grassroots music venue sector turned over £360 million in 2019–20 (prior to the pandemic), delivering over 200,000 events and more than half a million performances to 33m ticket holders. The sector provides full time employment for 10,000 people, with approximately 150,000 musicians, crew, sound engineers, lighting engineers, security personnel, bar staff and other casual employees working in grassroots live music.

“As we emerge from the darkness of the last year and move towards our plan to revive live it is incredibly exciting and heartening to see the positivity with which UK grassroots music venues are approaching re-opening their doors,” says MVT CEO Mark Dayvd.

“The fact that musicians can get back to work, music fans can start to enjoy a live music experience again and all the associated staff in the music venue ecosystem can go back to earning a living again is amazing news. There are still challenges to overcome – and, of course, the whole of this programme relies on the government sticking to its roadmap to allow us to reopen every venue safely. Audience safety continues to be grassroots music venues’ main priority, but this is hopefully the start of our much-anticipated road back to normality.”


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