You might be thinking ahead to when your group can meet again in person, but a major issue will be finding somewhere to rehearse.
In the next 6 to 12 months your rehearsal venue probably needs to be Covid-19 secure, large enough to allow 2-metre spacing between singers or players, well-ventilated, with wifi and/or good lighting for videoing or blended rehearsals – and affordable. Below we've collected together some ideas to help you find a suitable venue.
These are often run by volunteers. As they are generally multi-purpose, many will prioritise the nursery over the community choir or reducing the number of bookings to allow bigger gaps between them. Talking to them and working together to manage and mitigate risks may well yield a result here. Find a community hall near you on the Action with Communities in Rural England website by clicking on your area. Your area organisation will have a list of local halls.
Churches have been reopening for religious services and so generally have robust risk assessment and mitigations in place. When looking for a church near you, remember to try all denominations, here are some suggestions. They tend to be large buildings in terms of footprint and volume, and although their ventilation is perhaps not usually modern, any unintentional draughtiness could now potentially be an asset!
Search for churches:
School and university halls or buildings have either not reopened to the public and are only letting students and staff on site, or (seeing that they already have robust risk assessments and systems in place) have invited groups back. You could search the Schools Web Directory and the British Uni website.
Local authority venues appear the most risk-averse. Nevertheless, try your local authority website: many publish a list of venues available for booking by the community, not all or even any of them are necessarily spaces that they run. You might need to search a bit…. In Southwark, for example, they were under the title, ‘Housing’! Each local authority will put this list, if it has one, under a different heading.
Concert halls would perhaps not usually feature on your list of spaces to consider for rehearsals, but try them: they are often large and many have not yet reopened their doors to the public. So in the short term you could have success here – and help them out, too, as they struggle to keep afloat until they can welcome live audiences back. Download a list of members of the British Association of Concert Halls (BACH).
Some other venue ideas
Remember Working Men's Clubs? Yes, they are still around and there's probably one near you and they hire space out. Search on the Club & Institute Union's website.
Think outside the box – is there empty retail space on your high street? A cinema that’s closed down? Redundant offices? Sports facilities – e.g. sports halls? Aircraft hangars! Don’t forget outside or covered outdoor areas: multi-storey or open-air carparks, open-sided barns, stadium stands, horse riding facilities all make for lots of space and fresh air, and some of them can help keep off the worst of the weather. Try your local authority for at least temporary access to some of these and don’t be afraid to negotiate on the price.
Although the acoustics may not be ideal, for now your goal is probably to facilitate in-person meetings as best you can, and these ideas may give you a place to start getting your group going again.
Being Covid-19 secure
Of course you will need to make sure that whatever venue you find is or can be made Covid-19 secure. Venues of all kinds should have risk assessments in place if they are re-opening to the public or they should be spaces you are able to make secure (e.g. open car parks).
Check our risk assessment guidance about how to make your venue more secure.
We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.