Performing Arts given the green light to resume outdoors from 11th July

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Yesterday evening, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden announced that from this weekend – 11th July, live performances can take place outside. Open-air gigs, festivals and theatre shows can resume in England, as long as they have “a limited and socially distanced audience”.

Here are the main points: 

  • Small pilots of performances indoors with socially distanced audience to take place to inform future plans
  • New government guidance outlines how nation’s beloved theatres and performance venues can get back up and running safely
  • New planning rules to protect theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues

This announcement is great news for the British live music sector, and The MIA welcomes this update from the Government. We continue to work with our partners at the Association of British Orchestras and the Musicians’ Union, who have been lobbying Government to allow live music safety. Our own part of the music industry depends on musicians being able to work! 

We are pleased that the Government have considered singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments – they have said ‘they will be permitted in a managed and controlled professional working environment to minimise risk.’ This means that singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments in groups or in front of an audience is currently limited to professionals only. It is great that professionals can go back to work, but we also recognise the importance of amateur music making, and look forward to future announcements that consider hobbyists too. 

Here is the full Government announcement: 

Performing arts can now take place outdoors from 11 July with a socially distanced audience present, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced yesterday.

This means that outdoor theatres, opera, dance and music can resume from Saturday so long as they take place outside and with a limited and socially distanced audience. This gives the green light for the likes of outdoor opera at Glyndebourne, Sussex and plays at Cornwall’s Minack Theatre, to go ahead. London’s West End will also return through the Six, The Musical Drive-In.

The Government will also work with the sector to pilot a number of small indoor performances with a social distanced audience to help inform plans about how best to get indoor venues back up and running.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working alongside sector bodies including UK Theatre, the Association of British Orchestras and the Musicians’ Union to identify suitable pilots. This will include working with London Symphony Orchestra at St Luke’s as well as the London Palladium and Butlins amongst others.

A change in planning rules will also mean theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues will be protected from demolition or change of use by developers, stopping those that have been made temporarily vacant during lockdown disappearing altogether and giving extra security to these businesses as they start to re-open.

Today’s announcements follows the government’s announcement of £1.57 billion of funding for the arts, culture and heritage sector earlier this week, the biggest ever one off investment in these industries.

New guidance, published by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport today, will help performing arts organisations, venue operators and participants in the UK understand how they can work and take part in the performing arts safely, and keep their audiences safe.

The guidance follows the government’s five-stage roadmap outlining how we will get audiences back into performing arts venues. It provides advice on all aspects of performance, from casting, sound and lighting, costume and fitting, to cloakrooms, orchestra pits, hair and make-up.

Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments will be permitted in a managed and controlled professional working environment to minimise risk.

The Secretary of State has also commissioned a scientific study on the risks associated with singing and brass instruments which will be done in partnership with Public Health England, professional musicians from the Royal Opera House and the BBC and scientists from Imperial College, London and Bristol University. This will help inform our work on getting the performing arts fully back up and running safely, by testing what can be done safely.

The guidance makes clear that the following measures should be considered to allow for safe resumption of performances:

  • A reduction in venue capacity and limited ticket sales to ensure social distancing can be maintained
  • All tickets must be purchased online and venues are encouraged to move towards e-ticketing for help with track and trace
  • Venues should have clearly communicated social distancing marking in place in areas where queues form and adopt a limited entry approach *. Increased deep cleaning of auditoriums
  • Performances should be scheduled to allow sufficient time to undertake deep cleaning before the next audience arrives
  • Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments in groups or in front of an audience is limited to professionals only
  • Performers, conductors, musicians must observe social distancing wherever possible

www.gov.uk/performing-arts-given-green-light-to-resume-outdoors-on-july-11