Tunbridge Wells Forum co-owner Mark Davyd criticizes lack of government support for local concert halls after chaotic scenes at Euro 2020 screening


The live music industry feels left in the dark after thousands gathered to celebrate England’s progress to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

Despite strict restrictions that continue to prevent most small venues in Kent from hosting live music, hundreds of football fans across the county were seen dancing, clapping and singing yesterday as they celebrated the England win over Germany in the Euro 2020 knockout match.

Mark Davyd calls for small venues to open after yesterday’s football events

A screening at Margate’s Dreamland even escalated into carnage, as attendees knocked over tables, triggered flares and stormed the stage.

Now Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust charity and co-owner of the Tunbridge Wells Forum, is frustrated by the apparent hypocrisy of allowing one type of event and not another.

He told KentOnline: “First of all it’s great that England won the game and we’re really happy with how they are doing in the tournament like everyone else, and we are delighted to see communities come together to celebrate this is a great national event and we have no problem with that.

“However, the reasons why concert halls are not allowed to be open are to sing, dance, be close to each other, kiss, chat, kiss someone else, meet strangers and Mass gatherings are apparently all dangerous activities that need to be limited.

Fans on stage at Dreamland after the England v Germany game

“But they’re already happening, and the number of people who gathered in Tunbridge Wells last night, Ramsgate or Dover to watch football on a screen and then sing ‘it’s coming home’ far exceeds the number of people. that fit into these small rooms.

“So I’m afraid it doesn’t stand any scrutiny that one thing is now allowed and frankly not monitored or allowed in any way, because people accept that it has to happen, while another activity – live music venues – is heavily guarded, heavily restricted and frankly not really able to take place. “

While a handful of small, socially-distanced concerts may have taken place in recent weeks, the size of most performance venues restricts the ability to socially ward off crowds.

A venue like the Ramsgate Music Hall has a maximum capacity of 120 people, but with a measure of over a meter installed there would likely be room for less than 20 people.

A crowd sat socially and wore masks during a concert at the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Theater earlier this month
A crowd sat socially and wore masks during a concert at the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Theater earlier this month

Concerts that may have taken place, such as post-punk band Shame at the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Theater, were subject to strict social distancing and rules that require the crowd to wear face coverings for the duration of the performance. .

Mr Davyd said controlling one event but not another is an absurd position for the government: “People point fingers at matches and say ‘well they’re taking place outside’ – indoor venues all over the place. countries last night were showing football on screens, there was mass chanting, mass chanting, mass hugging, everyone was partying.

“Great, but that doesn’t make sense. The concept that we can’t have a 100-seat folk concert with people sitting and enjoying the banjo, violin, accordion, while people gather in groups of thousands, frankly, to celebrate a football game makes no sense. “

The CEO of the Music Hall charity is now calling on the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports to allow small venues to reopen as soon as possible because he believes they are no riskier than they are. authorize a pub or an outdoor event to broadcast future Euro matches.

He said: “We need them to remember that they are meant to represent culture, and if these types of activities are already taking place, nothing is being achieved by the continued closure of Ramsgate Music Hall, or Elsewhere in Margate, or the Tunbridge Wells Forum, or the Booking Hall in Dover, or one of the other great places we are lucky enough to enjoy in Kent.

“All it does is damage jobs, lives, businesses and people’s livelihoods, and it does nothing to contain the virus.”

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