Famous Chesterfield music venue in 'no man's land' over reopening from lockdown plans

Bosses at a well-known Chesterfield music venue feel in ‘limbo’ and ‘no man’s land’ about how they will emerge from lockdown.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 3:40 pm

Family-run music business Real Time Live hopes to reopen for gigs in the summer – but is still waiting to discover how this will happen.

Joint owner Niki Stephenson, who runs the business with her husband Mark, says the Government will reveal the rules in April.

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Niki said: "We are expecting there will be two options, either seated capacity only with social distancing as in Tier One and Tier Two last year, or 50 per cent standing capacity.

"It will make a huge difference to us and the bands that perform as it is a difference of about 60 people in admission.

"Until April 12 we do not know and feel in limbo and no man’s land.”

Niki says the delay is ‘frustrating’ because it is so difficult to plan ahead – and she knows people are enthusiastic about returning to see live music again.

Real Time Live in Chesterfield's joint owner Niki Stephenson.
Real Time Live in Chesterfield's joint owner Niki Stephenson.

"For the small time we were able to open last year the atmosphere was fantastic, even though everyone was seated,” Niki said.

"We actually made it work really well. We probably erred on the side of being overly cautious about space between tables because we felt that was important as a family business.

“There were no problems and although we didn’t make a profit, we did at least break even, and were grateful for that.

Real Time Live, Chesterfield.

"We have our fingers crossed for a much brighter future but just at the moment we’re not sure how it will all work and what we will be able to put in place.”

The Real Time brand started in Chesterfield in 1994, developing from a small shop on Newbold Road to its current home on Marsden Street which houses Real Time’s Music Shop, School of Music and Real Time Live, the live music venue.

Niki is also waiting to hear if the venue will again be supported by an Arts Council grant, which last year gave the business some breathing space.

The Government’s roadmap out of lockdown puts a ‘not before date’ of May 17 for live events and states that there will still be requirements for limited capacity and social distancing.

Ministers say more details will be revealed when possible.

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