Clapham Grand holds UK-first socially distanced show
The Clapham Grand in London yesterday held the UK’s first socially distanced show in a music venue since the coronavirus lockdown in March.
The show is one of several being held as part of a series of ‘pilot’ (trial) performances in England, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, ahead of the return of indoor shows on 1 August. The London Palladium, the Andrew Lloyd Webber-run theatre, held a similar pilot show with Beverley Knight last week.
Featuring Beans on Toast, Ciara Haidar and headliner Frank Turner, Grand Aid on 28 July saw the Clapham Grand operating at less than 20% of its 1,250-person capacity.
Ally Wolf, manager of the venue, stresses that the pilot was “a step in the right direction for the industry, but not without its challenges”, with the socially distanced show, as expected, making a loss for the venue. “It’s important to say that this pilot, though a successful and great show, is by no means representative of the wider live music venue industry,” he explains.
“We operated this evening on less than 20% capacity: from 1,250 to 200. This, paired with vastly increased operational costs to fit with Covid compliance, without a reduction in any of our fixed overheads, means that we are opening to a loss of revenue, which isn’t sustainable for the future.
“We operated this evening on less than 20% capacity … which isn’t sustainable for the future”
“We want to thank Frank Turner, Beans on Toast and Ciara Haidar for performing this evening, and all our staff for pulling tonight together to make something magical happen.”
He also shares the venue’s plans to make the most of its capacity while socially distancing is in place in the UK: “We have a unique opportunity – one that we realise isn’t available to the majority of other music venues – [in that] our layout and capacity potentially enables us to reformat our seating and events.
“We also need to increase our capacity via refurbishing the disused upper circle, which would increase seated capacity by 150 people. We also need to execute the plans we had drawn up for a roof garden to create the vital outside space the venue needs, but more than anything improve our accessibility for all our customers.
“This isn’t just about surviving our enforced Covid closure, or about reopening for one show, one week or even a month. This is about futureproofing one of the world oldest entertainment venues, to make sure in its 120th year the Clapham Grand is made secure for audiences to enjoy shows for centuries to come.”
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.