Socially distanced Unity Arena announces opening line-up
UK promoter SSD Concerts has announced the opening line-up for its new Unity Arena near Newcastle.
The 2,500-capacity venue – the first of its kind – ensures social distancing with a “parking-to-platform” system that sees concertgoers arrive by car and then proceed to a dedicated viewing platform located at least 2m from other viewing areas.
Unity Arena will open on 14 August with a DJ set by broadcaster Craig Charles, with the first live concert performance coming courtesy of Two Door Cinema Club the following night.
They are followed Supergrass on Saturday 22 August, Tom Grennan on Thursday 27 August, the Libertines on Saturday 29 August and Maximo Park on Saturday 5 September.
“We’re excited to be working with artists who have the same desire to make something happen during difficult times”
The first slate of programming also includes three comedy performances, from Jason Manford on 30 August and Bill Bailey on both 1 and 2 September.
Steve Davis of SSD Concerts, which – backed by sponsor Virgin Money and production company Engine No 4, is the driving force behind the arena – comments: “We’re excited to be working with artists who have the same desire to make something happen during difficult times for the industry and the general public.
“The rock’n’roll, can-do attitude of the artists performing and the team behind Virgin Money Unity Arena will make these shows ones to remember for the rest of our lives.
“We were determined to make this special, and hopefully today’s line-up is a strong statement of intent. We’re not finished yet and we’ll be announcing yet more acts soon.”
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‘First socially distanced arena’ launches in UK
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.”