Pilot concert venue to reopen with Frank Turner performance

Handout photo dated 28/07/20 issued by Corinne Cumming showing Frank Turner performing at the Clapham Grand in London in the
Handout photo dated 28/07/20 issued by Corinne Cumming showing Frank Turner performing at the Clapham Grand in London in the first Government requested pilot concert to test measures which could see the return of live music.

A venue which staged one of the Government’s pilot indoor concerts is set to put on the first gig of its own amid ongoing financial issues caused by coronavirus.

On Friday evening, singer Frank Turner will perform at the Clapham Grand in south London in front of a socially distanced audience.

There is space for 400 people to watch the performance in the venue, which in normal times has a capacity above 1,000.

Invictus Games 2014 – Day Five
Frank Turner (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Ally Wolf, the Clapham Grand’s manager, said the venue was still facing financial hardship but he thought it was important to return to putting on shows.

He told the PA news agency: “We have just got to show people that it is safe to come back to events again, venues are doing everything they possibly can to provide customers with a safe environment.”

He added that events resuming was a “really positive step forward for the industry as a whole” but there were still concerns over money.

No venue is putting shows on “because financially they think it is secure”, he said.

“I think they are doing it because they realise that you have to start your business again and you are better off doing that by trading than by staying closed.”

First Government requested live show pilot
Turner performed at a pilot concert at the venue in July (Corinne Cumming/PA)

He added: “We are doing what we can to restart our business but it is not going to be fixed overnight.”

Venues are “probably operating at a loss or closed and it is going to be a very hard, long six months ahead for us at least”, Mr Wolf said.

Support through crowdfunding and grants meant the venue could continue to operate until the middle of next month, he added.

Following the July pilot concert at the venue, which also saw Turner perform, Mr Wolf said socially distanced shows were not financially viable for venues.

But he said the recent reopening of the Clapham Grand’s upper circle meant more seats could be placed inside the venue and the financial challenges posed by staging events were reduced.

A £1.57 billion support package for the arts has previously been announced by the Culture Secretary.

Socially distanced indoor concerts have been able to take place since last month.

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