The arts and entertainment industry is being hit harder by Covid-19 than almost any other sector in the British economy, according to research by the Office for National Statistics, and under the current government guidelines, it is difficult to see how, or when, theatres and mass participation events can start up again and remain financially viable.
Theatres simply cannot afford to run on the 25% capacity required to maintain social distancing, so a new model for live entertainment is desperately needed.
While nightclubs are also still not able to open, G-A-Y at Heaven, the UK's biggest LGBT+ nightclub has repurposed into the UK's biggest LGBT+ bar and the dance floor that was once a joyous throng of thousands of writhing bodies is now set with tables, chairs and partitions.
Saturdays at G-A-Y were infamous for A-list pop stars like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kylie and Rita Ora but this week (29 August 2020) live performance made a return, albeit in a slightly more subdued format.
'No Singing, No Dancing, No Cheering' declared the big screen ahead of the 1am show, and as West End stars Sean Parkins (Book of Mormon) and Nathaniel Morrison (Waitress) took to the stage there was a lot of biting of tongues and sitting on hands to quell the enthusiasm.
But it worked!
The audience were well behaved and showed their appreciation with rapturous applause and stamping of feet as the stars gave vocally sublime renditions of songs from Beyoncé, Hamilton, Dream Girls and more. Thirty minutes of live show had us lost in the music and it was, almost, like old times.
But most importantly, it worked. The venue was open, all the government guidelines for distancing and track and trace were met and staff were able to return to their jobs and work again. Bar staff, door staff, light and sound techs and security were all thrown a lifeline by a promoter with foresight and two performers who knew and understood the rules.
If one club can do it there's no reason others can't too – smaller shows with smaller budgets for smaller audiences might not be ideal, but it gets the rent paid and food on the table which, in this day and age is no small feat in itself.