Not reopening Sheffield City Hall puts 'total handbrake’ on city’s night-time economy, claim music promoters
A group of music promoters are calling on the Sheffield City Trust to reopen iconic venues such as City Hall and Ponds Forge in an effort to help the city’s economy recover from the impact of Covid-19.
Sheffield City Trust, formerly known as Sheffield International Venues, looks after 17 facilities across the city, including City Hall, the FlyDSA Arena and Ponds Forge.
Andrew Snelling, the trust’s chief executive, recently said it is preparing to reopen venues but that some facilities may not be able to reopen until after the current crisis is over.
Sheffield Music Kings, who describe themselves as a collective of small music promoters and bedroom producers, has now urged SCT to rethink their decision for the sake of the city’s economy.
The group said: “Whilst SCT tell us that it is impossible to reopen in the foreseeable future at their Sheffield City Hall venue, we see other cities welcoming gig-goers back with open arms.
"Private business in Sheffield is leading the way with the O2 Academy and Leadmill all advertising new shows from September, and Victoria Quays holding an outdoor gig today.
"SCT's questionable decision holds back our economy, our reputation, and makes people too scared to come out to the live venues who are actually trying to make a living and drive Sheffield forward.
"There are promoters queuing up to book City Hall, Memorial Hall and Ballroom, all of whom would be able to make the job work safely, who are being fobbed off with excuses and answerphone messages.
"This is a total handbrake on our night-time economy and restaurants, pubs and hotels nearby are rightly upset that this is being visited on them by a council venue.”
The group also called for Ponds Forge to reopen and said leaving the FlyDSA arena closed is “nothing short of its death knell".
“If Leeds and Manchester can open their facilities, why can't we?” they added.
“These are our buildings, we paid for them. We expect them to reopen, to be part of the drive forward out of the COVID shadow. This city is full of promoters, business people, creative thinkers and practical doers.
“We need clarity, we need open-book reporting but most of all, we need these venues open.”
In a statement in July, Mr Snelling said: “As organisations across the country face an unprecedented challenge and loss of earning, some difficult decisions will have to be made and the Trust is working closely with governing bodies such as Sport England and UK Active to understand and overcome the current challenges and those that lie ahead.
"Without further support from the government some facilities might not be able to reopen until the crisis is over."
He added: “Those facilities that can reopen may look a little different as we have to ensure the safety of our customers to make our sites covid secure, but although things look a little different, we’re still the same charity at heart.
“As ever, the safety of our colleagues, customers and the broader community remains our number one priority, and we will not open any of our facilities until we are confident that they are safe.”