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THE reopening of Melksham’s Assembly Hall remains in limbo despite recent news from the government that live indoor performances can return next month.
After months waiting for a timescale for when live indoor performances could return, theatres and live performance venues were told that they could reopen from 1st August – but would need to operate with social distancing measures and reduced audience capacity.
However, the reopening of theatres and venues for live indoor performances is still “subject to the success of pilots”.
The news has been criticised by the manager of the Assembly Hall, Tim Cross, who says that the information is still too vague – and that the venue could still be ‘months away’ from hosting live performances.
Speaking to Melksham News, Tim Cross, said, “This latest announcement changes nothing for us at the Assembly Hall – it’s all still up in the air. We are no closer to hosting a show than we were yesterday.
“There is still no clear guidance about how we can open – and information and the final go-ahead is all still pending the success of pilots. And will these pilots be held anywhere rural? It will all be done in large cities like London and Manchester.
“And the other issue that will arise once we have the social distancing guidance is will it be economically viable for small venues like the Assembly Hall?
“I don’t know if it will work. We have no live performances booked until October – and as we creep closer, these performances are getting rebooked for next year one by one. You need at least six months run-in time for an event – you need to book, sell tickets, advertise – so we are a long way off from it being business as usual.
“We also need the guidance from the government so we can carry out a full risk assessment at the Assembly Hall – my hands are tied, we are at the beck and call of the government and when they decide to give us this information.
“We would love to re-open, but I need to be confident that the Assembly Hall staff and our visitors are safe.”
There is also uncertainty about the government’s announcement of its £1.57bn support package for the industry and whether the Assembly Hall will be eligible to apply.
Speaking to Melksham News, economic development manager for the town council, David McKnight, said, “We don’t know if the Assembly Hall is eligible for financial support from the government – but as soon as we do, we will take it to council – it would be helpful if it was.