Founder and promoter Thom Milner-Smith has already got a number of events lined up – and has got 50 or so more waiting in the wings for later in the year and into spring 2022: “It is pretty much as we thought it was going to be. We are going to get full capacity from June 21. Before that, we will be doing socially-distanced reduced-capacity shows from May 17. We have got about 35 gigs on sale now. One of the good things about the announcement from Boris and the government is that it gives the public confidence and clarity. Tickets sales have really gone up for everyone, and there have been festivals that have sold out. I am confident. Sales are very strong, and I think that will continue. Everyone has to continue to follow the rules. You can’t just jump out and party, but the vaccine roll-out will be key. If the vaccine roll-out continues as planned, things should be fine, and that should be the message.”
Thom believes, though, it will be a rather different industry which emerges from the pandemic: “I think there will be a much more collective, collaborative approach to everyone working together much more. There will be more clarity, and I think the whole infrastructure will be better in terms of deals for the artists, deals which are more fair. I think it has made everyone realise that we all need to work together. It all used to be fiercely competitive, but I think people have realised that if we all work together, we can all get through the pandemic. I do think there will be a few adjustments that get made. I certainly want to be more collaborative. We have always tried to do that all along.”
The pandemic has also meant thinking time: “There have been lots of things we have been able to do, like writing a business plan and writing audience development reports. We have been much more focused. We have rebranded. In normal business it would be all about the gig, all about tonight, all about the weekend, but this time there has been time to reflect.”
Thom is convinced the audiences are out there: “There is a lot of pent-up demand. I think audiences may not take it for granted in a way maybe they used to. They may go to more shows for that reason. There is going to be a huge demand.”
Thom suspects live-streaming will continue to some extent, though: “There is a lot of talk about using live-streaming as a tool so that live shows can be streamed to your house. There is nothing like actually being at a gig in the flesh with your friends and family and having a drink and maybe a meal beforehand and actually being there, but there will be people who aren’t keen to come out, and live-streaming will be a great tool for amplifying the experience for everyone.”
Coming up: Pete Fij/Terry Bickers – The Factory Live, Worthing – June 4; Phil Wang + Eleanor Tiernan + Jack Barry – Chalk, Brighton – June 5; Judge Jules – The Factory Live, Worthing – September 3; The Luka State – The Factory Live, Worthing – September 21; Norman Jay – The Factory Live, Worthing – September 24; James Zabiela – The Factory Live, Worthing – October 1; Adam Buxton – DLWP, Bexhill – October 4; Graham Gouldman – St George’s Church, Brighton – October 7; Krafty Kuts – The Factory Live, Worthing – October 9; Trojan Sound System – The Factory Live, Worthing - November 13; The Irrepressibles – St Paul’s, Worthing – November 18; The Doors Alive – Concorde 2, Brighton – December 9; Dan Shake – The Factory Live, Worthing – December 11; Soul II Soul – DLWP, Bexhill – March 12 2022; Soul II Soul – Pavilion Theatre, Worthing – March 13 2022; Omid Djalili – DLWP, Bexhill - March 19 2022; The South - The Factory Live, Worthing – May 21 2022.