Virgin Money Unity Arena in Gosforth Park has converted its 45,000 square meter grounds into an outdoor arena with 500 platforms socially distant from each other, to bring fans back to live music events while following government guidelines.
Some 2,500 fans are expected to watch local musician Sam Fender launch the launch at the site that could otherwise accommodate 40,000 guests.
“At the front people are on the grass and as you come back the platforms go up,” said promoter Steve Davis.
“They all obviously have steps and safety rails on the outside, and they’ll also have seats on them for people who don’t want to get up. “
Guests are assigned an arrival time when purchasing tickets and are directed to their viewing decks.
Davis says finding innovative ways to keep concerts safe could give fans a better night.
“It’s not that abnormal actually, it feels like a VIP experience for everyone, with your friends in your own area and you’re not too far from other groups either, so I think some people might appreciate it more than a normal concert. ”
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The live music industry contributed £ 4.5bn to the UK economy last year. But no concerts have taken place since March 23, when the lockdown was imposed. This has left many sites at risk of permanent closure and half of the 210,000 industry jobs at risk.
Elbow, Everything Everything and Public Service Broadcasting are among the artists supporting Passport: Back to our Roots, a new fundraising campaign for popular music venues that are at risk of closing.
Artists will perform unique and intimate shows in small venues when it is safe to perform without social distancing.
Everything Everything will return to play at Esquires Bedford years after their first performance. Singer Jonathan Higgins says the loss of small venues would be “catastrophic” for British music.
“It’s going to be really bad if we lose the small venues. We need the small ones for the big ones to exist, and we need the big ones to exist because everyone loves the music of this country, it’s a big part of our culture. ”
“Live music is a huge business in Britain, and we would hate to see it come through hard times. “
In July, popular sites deemed to be at immediate risk were awarded £ 2.25million after the government announced a £ 1.57 billion bailout for the arts industries.
Indoor venues were told they could resume concerts on August 1, provided strict social distancing was in place, but that decision was later overturned.