We recently caught up with Jonas Roberts, Events Manager of popular Liverpool nightclub – 24 Kitchen Street, to uncover the challenges and benefits the venue has faced throughout the COVID pandemic thus far.
Discussing everything from the shambolic communicative efforts of the local authorities and government, and the subsequent financial effects, to the importance of live music and his experience of working with Skiddle – Jonas gives a detailed account of what life has been like managing a socially distant venue over the past twelve months.
Read exactly what he had to say below…
Tell us about your event
“Socially distant events at 24 Kitchen Street have taken a few different forms since July 4th 2020. We started off with an outdoor offering in the yard and adjacent street, with free entry when restrictions were more lenient and reasonable in terms of our venue being viable. In December 2020, events moved inside and were ticketed in tables to comply with new restrictions around household mixing.
Events were well attended (90% of them sold out). Performances varied from live music from electronic musicians, to rappers and singers, to jazz bands and pub quizzes. The diversity of our regular events were represented both in performers and audience. Events are hospitable, vibrant and eclectic.”
Logistically, how did your event change due to COVID?
“Before COVID we almost exclusively ran standing events. Socially distant events had to be completely seated. We put loads of working into making the venue COVID safe while maintaining and developing our aesthetic. We built dividers, installed heaters, bought tables and benches, installed new lighting and sound infrastructure to fit with the repurposed space, and undertook comprehensive training with staff and security.
We can’t overstate the effort and money that went into these events even before we’d opened the doors. Our whole operation was based on having a full club, and is only really financially viable in that context. With social distancing, we were operating at 30% capacity with staffing costs being triple of what they would have been before COVID. This put massive strain on us, but was better than the alternative of receiving no income.”
Did you face any challenges working with your local council? If so, how did you overcome them?
“We’ve been in pretty constant communication with various people in the council. We were fined at the beginning of October, the day after new regulations about mixing households came in. The licensing officer’s pulled a key member of management staff away from their position working to enforce social distancing rules.
News of this fine broke at 10am in the Liverpool Echo. We feel that the authorities were looking to make an example of someone. We closed for a period following this, reopening again in December until the 30th – when lockdown was announced with only seven hours notice. We’d spent thousands on stock for New Years Eve and New Years day. During December, the police were in the venue at least once a week, enforcing a convoluted and constantly changing set of rules and regulations.”
What has been the general feedback by attendees for your socially distanced event?
“Mostly it’s been really positive. People understand we’re under extra pressure to make these events possible and they’re respectful of that.”
In your view, how have you improved the entertainment in the local area?
“In December we were the only music venue in the area putting on events. We’re happy we could provide people with access to the music we love, even in a limited format.”
What has been your experience working with Skiddle to promote your socially distanced event?
“Skiddle’s promoter infrastructure is great for quickly building ticket tiers and listings. This is especially important when running seated, socially distanced events where a ticketing allocation is so important.
Their customer service is equally good for dealing with specific needs or enquiries our customers might have at socially distant events.”
Would you recommend other promoters to use Skiddle?
“Yes, because they have a well functioning, streamlined promoter infrastructure.”
What can audiences expect to see from your events this year, now that things are looking up with the vaccine roll out and the potential roll out of rapid testing?
“We’re ready to return in whatever form at the drop of a hat. Expect a stellar programme whether we’re socially distanced or not.”
Skiddle is currently the UK’s biggest What’s On guide, providing a free facility for event promoters across the UK to list their events online and sell tickets through our independent ticketing service. We currently work with over 35,000 UK and European promoters, at over 30,000 venues. We specialise in helping events through that critical growing phase by providing the marketing and technology support that you need. Start listing your events today!