The Clapham Grand in London is set to open its refurbished top tier balcony for the first time in 15 years to welcome a socially distanced capacity of 400 punters for its first post-lockdown shows.
Following a Government approved pilot, in which folk rock artist Frank Turner played to a crowd of 200 people who were seated at tables at the 1,250-capacity venue, the Clapham Grand will kick off events with a reopening party tomorrow (Friday) with Turner.
Turner said: “I’m really happy to be continuing the journey out of lockdown in step with my friends at the Grand. After a fundraising stream and a historic pilot show, it’s great to be back to mark the re-opening up of the upper circle, and a show that is another milestone in the return of live music to the city and the venues that I love.”
The venue has also announced it will host comedians such as Russell Howard and Jimmy Carr, as well as Drag Superstar and Big Brother winner Courtney Act, UK Drag Race Winner The Vivienne, Baga Chipz, pop icon Louise Redknapp; and the return of The Grand’s Movie Nights with ‘It’s Saturday October 3rd’ special screening of Mean Girls.
By refurbishing and opening the upper circle the venue can sell an additional 100 tickets with distancing, although it is still trading over 50 per cent below the former capacity, but it claims in a statement that these extra tickets give the venue “more chance to make the new financial model work and survive this period.”
While many venues remain closed due to limited capacities proving not to be financially viable for many, the Clapham Grand reopening has become possible after three successful Save Live Comedy shows in August, featuring the likes of Al Murray, Jayde Adams, Ed Gamble and Kerry Godliman, raised over £15,000. It is also one of 135 grassroots music venues to receive emergency funding as part of the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund, and has raised over £50,000 itself.
Clapham Grand manager Ally Wolf said: “We are incredibly proud to announce our first run of shows after lockdown, and in the process to reopen our upper circle, which has been closed to customers for 15 years!
“We can’t think of a better way of doing this than by welcoming back Frank Turner to kick things off on the 18th September at our launch party. He’s been an incredible supporter of not just us – but grass roots venues nationwide during lockdown – with his spirit and determination to help our industry survive, playing a huge part in ensuring so many venues are still here today. After helping us raise £25k for Grand Aid – if anyone should be the first live act to play our restored Victorian Variety Hall’s reopening night it should be him!
“It is amazing to be open again – to not only be able to bring our wonderful team back to work, artists and performers back onto our stage – but more importantly audiences back to being entertained, safely of course.
“We were purpose built for entertainment, for providing much needed escapism from everyday life, which is needed now more than ever.
“We look forward to welcoming everyone back through our doors again, for some very special shows showcasing everything The Clapham Grand is famous for, a palace of modern variety, and above all else FUN.”
Fans will also be able to catch many of the shows hosted by the Clapham Grand as it will also broadcasting them in a TV-quality live stream.
Following July’s pilot concert by Turner, venue manager Wolf deemed the event not to be a success in providing a viable plan for the return of live events. Wolf said the pilot event was not financially viable for venues as it did not bring in enough money to cover costs.
At the time, Wolf said the financial model the Clapham Grand used for the gig would be particularly damaging financially to small venues, adding it is “not a financial model that the industry can remotely rely upon to be sustainable”.