Nearly 82% of audience members surveyed following the July 23 concert by Beverley Knight at the London Palladium (cap, 2276) said they felt very safe and comfortable throughout the event, according to a report by venue operator LW Theatres.
Some 650 people attended the show, the first large-scale live concert in the UK for more than four months, with the Andrew Lloyd Webber-owned venues group using it to test numerous mitigation measures, partly based on the DCMS Performing Arts Guidance but also underpinned by the company’s experience in South Korea and scientific advice commissioned by the UK theatre industry.
Following the event, LW Theatres contacted all attendees asking them to complete a survey. Of the 200 that replied, almost 80% said they would come to a theatre in the immediate future, should that be allowed, without social-distancing but with a face mask requirement.
LW Theatres said the pilot showed that socially distanced shows would not be economically viable at The London Palladium. A socially distanced show with an audience of 640 required at least a 25% increase in staff costs compared to those for a full house of 2276. The staff to audience ratio at the venue is usually 1:40 but is 1:10 under current Stage 4 Government guidance.
The pilot cost £30,000 to stage with no artist fee, and excluding £80,000 of additional start-up costs. The in-seat service and socially distanced bars ran at a loss of £1,200.
According to the report, it would be very difficult with such small audiences to make the bar set up profitable without dramatic price rises or decreases in service levels. It states that a house capacity of 70-90% is required in order for shows to be financially viable at the venue, depending on production, artist fees and other associated costs.