Frank Turner played the first government-requested pilot live concert on Tuesday 28th July, at The Clapham Grand.
On 17 July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that indoor concerts could be held from 1 August, pending the success of a series of pilot events, and if those indoor venues subscribed to distancing/cleaning regulations.
The Frank Turner gig, which operated on less than 20% capacity with only 200 attendees, was the first of these pilots.
Ally Wolf, Manager at The Clapham Grand, said the show was not financially sustainable in its current format: “We operated this evening on less than 20% capacity; from 1250 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 are opening to a loss of revenue, which isn’t sustainable for the future.”
When asked how they were measuring the success of these ‘pilot’ shows, Wolf said: “The financial success is obviously the most important factor, as using it to build our business model moving forward will be directly influenced by it, but the operational viability is also fundamentally important. Being able to find out if it was actually possible to implement the physical distancing guidelines operationally, and without impeding the customer experience is also vital.”
Wolf added that the venue’s point of contact with the government was the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Christabel Austen, Senior Policy Adviser. However, The Clapham Grand was largely left to its own devices in staging the show: “We just operated from the guidelines that are available for everyone. Otherwise, they left it to us to apply this as best we could.
“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. 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 future-proofing one of the world oldest entertainment venues, to make sure in it’s 120th year The Clapham Grand is made secure for audiences to enjoy shows for centuries to come.”