What’s the future of live events post-pandemic?

Party people enjoying a concert at a summer music festival

Credit: nd3000/GettyImages

Concerts, conferences and clubbing have been off-limits in the UK since lockdown was implemented.

Watching live opera, rock, pop and theatre performances at home became the norm for many people during lockdown. As lockdown lifts – will people return to live, in-person events?

Live-streamed shows are here to stay

Performers like Dua Lipa would never have live-streamed a full concert before the pandemic. Her online concert in December 2020 broke records, with five million people tuning in from their homes around the world.

Live streaming is popular with fans and performers alike, according to an Economic and Social Research Council-funded report from Middlesex University London.

The Live Streaming Music project reported 90% of musicians and 92% of fans agreed live streaming will be a good way to reach audiences unable or unwilling to go to venues.

Read the Live Streaming Music report.

Over two thirds said live streaming would remain “an important part” of the music landscape after the pandemic.

Can we COVID-proof venues?

For fans who are eager to return to venues, research is underway to try and find safe ways to do so.

A project led by Loughborough University is investigating how venues could be redesigned to minimise the risks of COVID transmission, specifically with regards to ventilation.

The team is already analysing data from a nightclub event in Liverpool and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield. It also has trials running at the O2 Arena and Wembley stadium.

The research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

“A huge challenge”

Professor Malcolm Cook from Loughborough University said:

Getting our lives back to some sense of normal following the pandemic is a huge challenge and doing it in a safe and measured way even more so.

The work we are doing will help get these types of events and venues back up and running in a safe way, providing scientifically proven information and advice on ventilation and building management, to reduce the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19, and other viruses, as much as possible.

The team’s data will help them create a Relative Exposure Index. This will come with advice and guidance on what ventilation measures could mitigate the risk of transmission and exposure.

Cook says the findings could be used in all non-domestic settings, so the healthcare, education and retail sectors could also benefit.

Last updated: 2 August 2021

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