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Frank Turner’s socially distanced gig ‘not a success’ as it failed to cover costs

A venue boss has said Frank Turner’s socially distanced trial gig was ‘not a success,’ as it failed to cover operating costs, despite the singer performing for free. 

The Clapham Grand in South London cut its capacity from 1,250 to 200 in order to accommodate new distancing measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Ally Wolf, the venue’s manager, said the trial, modelled on the Government’s pilot scheme, would not be financially viable for most venues.

Calling for the government to provide support for smaller venues, Mr Wolf said the pilot: ‘Is not a financial model that the industry can remotely rely upon to get to be sustainable.

‘It can’t be the future for live music, it can’t be the future for venues.’  

The model would be particularly challenging to implement for smaller venues, Mr Wolf said, before adding that profits could not exceed operating costs even before a fee for the performer is factored in.

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

During the pilot, while crowds normally stand at the Clapham Grand, seating and tables were put in to allow for social distancing.

Audience members were able to order drinks to their tables and they were asked to arrive at staggered intervals.

One-way systems were put in place around the venue and people had their temperature checked as they entered the building.

Speaking after Tuesday’s concert, Frank Turner, who was supported by folk artist Beans on Toast, said it was ‘galling’ to hear that the crowd would not be able to sing along during his performance.

Writing on his blog, he told fans: ‘That brought me up short, and nearly made me change my mind about the show. 

‘Getting the crowd involved in the performance is at the heart of what I do on stage, and the shows I play work towards a moment of unification, where the barrier between performer and audience breaks down.’ 

Live performances are expected to return on August 1. 

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