London’s Music Venues Stay Quiet As Uncertainty Reigns Over Return Of Indoor Gigs
London’s music scene looks set to stay quiet this weekend, as uncertainty reigns over whether indoor gigs will be allowed to take place from August 15.
Restrictions on indoor concerts were set to be lifted on August 1, as long as audiences adhered to social distancing and venues maintained Covid-secure protocols.
However, on July 31, the plan was postponed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, citing an increase in Covid-19 infections in England as a reason for the precaution.
Mr Johnson said the postponement would last for “at least a fortnight”, taking the possible reopening date to August 15.
However, no further indication has been given as to whether this new date remains viable — and the capital’s venues seem to be erring on the side of caution.
The Standard checked listings for more than 40 of London’s major music venues and found no plans for indoor gigs this weekend.
Ronnie Scott’s — the legendary jazz club that hoped to become the city’s first venue to reopen on August 1 with a programme of new events, only for these to be cancelled last-minute — said it was now waiting for more “certainty” and did “not expect much to happen before September”.
It comes in the same week that venues across London and the rest of the UK lit themselves up red as part of the #WeMakeEvents campaign, highlighting the devastating effect coronavirus has had on the live events industry. More than one million events workers could lose their jobs unless Government action is taken, warned PLASA, the body behind the initiative.
In early July, the Government announced a £1.57bn rescue package for the arts. This was followed by confirmation from Arts Council England that its £500m Culture Recovery Fund would be made up of grants ranging from £50,000 to £3m. Music venues, festivals and nightclubs are all in line to benefit from the funding, although concerns remain that the money will not secure jobs for all of those working in the industry.
Music Venue Trust, which launched the #SaveOurVenues campaign in April and has been working on behalf of grassroots venues during the pandemic, warned that gigs could not realistically restart until October “at the earliest”.
Speaking after the decision to postpone indoor gigs earlier this month, MVT said: “Since May 2020, Music Venue Trust has repeatedly informed the Government that live music events in grassroots music venues would be extraordinarily difficult to stage, not economically viable, and at risk of being cancelled at short notice during the current pandemic.
“A number of venues across the country have attempted to stage such events based on advice from the Government, incurring substantial costs to make their venues safe. That expenditure now adds to the growing mountain of debts accrued by those venues working within the government guidelines.”
As it stands, many London venues are crowdfunding in order to survive. Head here for more information and to donate.