Relaxation of the Covid restrictions has not included viable options for small live music venues like Elsewhere at The Centre in Margate.
The Margate venue does not have outdoor space to ensure distancing and its main business is live gigs, with a full house needed to break even.
The regulation change allowing bars and restaurants to reopen on July 4 reduced the social distancing to one metre if two metres is not possible but for a site like Elsewhere this would hit audience numbers so hard it is not financially viable to open the doors.
Elsewhere co-founder and ‘Sonic Curator’ Sammy Clarke said: “Based on the government guidance we would not be able to get more than 15 people in when we have a capacity of 150 and rely on selling out just to break even.
A small business grant of £10,000 was received but this has had to pay for rent and ongoing costs since the ‘lockdown’ in March with no clear end in sight.
Sammy said: “This has affected everyone involved, from venues to artists, booking agents, managers, record labels. We are rescheduling shows for a third time and had hoped to be open from September onwards but the pandemic has gone on for much longer than we thought.
“Government guidance is all very vague but we are hoping we can maybe reopen in Autumn if things keep going as they are. But a potential for a second, bigger spike in the winter would stymie any progress.”
Sammy says government help is needed to take the music industry possibly into 2021. This month a £1.57 billion rescue package was announced which will aim to help venues weather the storm.
Organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema can now access emergency grants and loans.
In the meantime Elsewhere is part of a national initiative launched by the Music Venue Trust to prevent the closure of hundreds of independent music venues.
As part of the initiative there is a main crowdfunder and also individual ones.
For Elsewhere help from the community has been vital in its bid to survive the continued closure of the business.
Sammy said: “The response from the community has been amazing and we have raised around £6,000. It has been really helpful and will hopefully see us through to the autumn.”
The government announced that audiences adhering to social distancing will be able to return to indoor theatres, music and performance venues from August 1 but the measures are still unworkable for small sites and those with no outdoor space.
Ramsgate Music Hall says it will be ‘virtually impossible’ to make a profit and the Tom Thumb Theatre would likely see its 50 person capacity cut to single numbers.
Find Elsewhere’s fundraising page at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/saveelsewhere