For anyone who cares deeply about live music, the pandemic has created a kind of waking nightmare of economic and artistic uncertainty. Venues, musicians and other music industry professionals face an uncertain future. Many of the things that make live music so compelling — the proximity to other people, the intimacy of the right venue — also make it a dangerous option as COVID-19 continues to infect thousands daily.
What would a venue designed with social distancing in mind look like? That’s not a rhetorical question, as it turns out. At Stereogum, Chris DeVille has news of Virgin Money Unity Arena, a new space set to open in Newcastle in August. The article offers some details as to how the venue will operate:
Per a press release, cars will be able to drive in with no-contact entry with employees scanning pre-ordered tickets. Parties will then be directed to personal platforms, each spaced two meters apart. On the way they are to pick up whatever food and drinks they’ve pre-ordered, or else order refreshments right away through an app upon arrival.
Once the event has ended, the venue’s staff will direct attendees to the exit in small groups. As for who might play this venue, that remains to be determined. The venue’s Twitter account promises news about specific concerts on Tuesday morning.
The only way to get your festival fix this year! #virginmoneyunityarena Artists announced Tuesday 10am. Tickets on sale Friday 10am. #livemusicreturns #liveentertainment #concert #festival #safe #friendly #unity pic.twitter.com/BgUN0rwVtg
— Virgin Money Unity Arena (@VMUnityArena) July 4, 2020
If the venue’s rendering is anything to go by, this setup offers a blend of a grand scale with a relatively low number of attendees. Is any kind of live music about to become a luxury product? It’s a worrying thought at a time that’s offered plenty of them.
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