With jazz clubs everywhere shut down, Oliver Weindling, at the heart of the London jazz scene where he runs the Vortex, explains his “new normal” during lockdown and assesses an extremely uncertain future ahead.
“All working hard to survive, though ongoing problems dealing with rent, lockdown, grants from government for smaller venues/retail (since there is a grant if rateable value below £51,000), Arts Council. And also the wellbeing of all in the community of the Vortex – musicians, volunteers, audience. The Vortex is a c-l-u-b, more than just a small venue.
“We are only just beginning to take an initial peek at what might happen when we can ‘reopen’ (inverted commas used advisedly). Venues are unlikely to be back to proper activity until there is a proper vaccine. Live music venues were amongst the first to close and will probably be amongst the last to be properly functioning. Will people want to come out, how much capacity can we have with proper social distancing, will musicians be touring?
“So what does that mean for musicians, both during lockdown and after? This is music that relies on live interaction. And we can't do that with the problems of latency when one tries to play between two homes over the Internet.
“And then, afterwards. How much money will there be to go round for many musicians to survive? Additional sources, like grants, album sales, radio and so on, are no longer what they used to be. So, it's unlikely for as many musicians to be touring for quite some time. And then there are the festivals. Yet another series of, as yet, unanswerable questions.”
Oliver Weindling, on Gillett Square, Dalston, east London, in front of the Vortex at the Culture House, top. Photo: marlbank
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