Harvey Goldsmith has spoken to Music Week about how the UK's live music industry can recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
Echoing Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn, who told last month's Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) hearing on reopening venues at full capacity that "festivals can go ahead safely with adequate testing", the legendary promoter said a speedy pre-entry coronavirus testing system offered a potential route back for non socially-distanced gigs.
“We need a target date for testing,” said Goldsmith, speaking in this week's magazine. “It's very simple: to do three lots of testing - one in a 1,000-seater venue, one in a theatre and one at the Royal Albert Hall to try out these fast-testing companies and see which ones work. All of this testing has to be done before people go into the auditorium. Once they're in the auditorium, then it's like a normal show with full capacity.
"We need to get the protocols in place in agreement with the government and then for the HPA [Health Protection Agency] to evaluate them, come back and make recommendations. Once those protocols are in place, it’s going to make it a lot easier for us to get back to work."
He added: "We still need time - for some reason the government and DCMS, in particular, do not understand that if they tell us on Tuesday, they think we can open on Saturday. Well, we can't. So we need time to organise ourselves to do it properly and in a safe manner, so we can get on and run our business.
"If we could do that and get those target test scenarios done and evaluated, then we can set a pathway of getting back to work and then we don't need [the government's] money, which none of us are going to see anyway. We can all get on with it."
There are thousands of people who are depending on the live entertainment industry, most of whom fall between the cracks of grants of any description, and it's a disgrace
Goldsmith added that he had grown frustrated by the lack of response from the powers that be and branded the current situation a "mess".
"At the moment, we cannot get an answer out of the DCMS or HPA, who say absolutely nothing towards helping us to try and get our industry back to work," he said. "There are thousands upon thousands of people who depend on the live entertainment industry - be it concerts, theatres or events - most of whom fall between the cracks of grants of any description, and it's a disgrace."
The global events sector joined forces on September 30 for a Global Day of Action amid the hardship it is facing as a result of the pandemic, while the Music Venue Trust issued an urgent warning to the UK government that the entire grassroots live music sector is now at “red alert status”, days before news on how the government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund will be distributed. Goldsmith said it was vital the industry retained a united front.
"It's really important that the rest of our industry don't go off on a tangent, we have to stick together," he said. "We have to make it work together and we've got to impress upon government how much our industry could be helpful and not work against them. We just want to get some guidance so that we can get on with it.
"It's very simple. As Andrew Lloyd Webber said very succinctly to the select committee, we need a target date. We need to work backwards and then we can get everything in place to make our industry work in a safe and healthy manner. Then we don't need any money from the government, we just get on with it."
Earlier this week, Kilimanjaro Live boss and Concert Promoters Association vice-chair Stuart Galbraith told Music Week he was pushing for a target restart date of April 8, 2021.