First signs of recovery at Worthing's newest music venue

Worthing music promoter Thom Milner-Smith, founder of atom promotions, is delighted to see people back in Worthing’s newest music venue The Factory Live.

Friday, 10th July 2020, 11:32 am
Worthing music promoter Thom Milner-Smith

For the moment, the venue is operating solely as a bar.

But Thom, who provides the music programme, is confident he can get a line-up of bands ready very quickly once venues get the go-ahead.

As for atom promotions, Thom managed to get emergency funding from the Arts Council. He declined to say how much.

“It will pay for our working capital. It pays for our expenses, our office really, for insurance and for staff for the rest of the year.”

Potentially the business could have folded in the crisis: “But the Arts Council money supports us for the rest of 2020 and beyond. We have also got a local top-up grant from the local council, and we have been working on other projects.

“We have been working on our operational development, on the business plan to unpick the business and make it more resilient for when we come back.

“We have had time to focus on that side of the business, the strategy and put everything together. When we come out the other side, I think we will be in a better position.

“The situation has been devastating, but we have managed to adapt. It is still going to be difficult, but I think we will be OK at the other end of it.

“We are hoping to come back in Q4 in October or maybe Q1 in January.”

As for The Factory Live, it has reopened as a bar for the moment.

“It is a 70-capacity bar with social distancing and all the measures in place. We have got the capacity to run a large bar there, and we are good.

“We have got all the procedures, the washing stations.

“We have reduced the capacity so that tables and chairs are two metres apart. There is a one-way system into and out of the venue and to the toilets.

“Everything is in place, and it was great to open again. I popped down there, and it was great to see it.”

When it comes to providing the music again, it’s a question of waiting and seeing.

“The plan is to have the bar open into August and then perhaps have some low-key events until we can open 100 per cent.

“If it is October, then we have got all the events rescheduled from March, April, May, June that have been shifted into Q4, and we have got ten club nights that we are ready to announce. The programme is ready. It is just a matter of when it will happen.

“atom are prepared. The Factory are prepared. And the announcement of the government funding package came as a huge relief. We don’t have the details, and the devil will be in the detail, but it certainly looks like a strong funding package that we hope The Factory will be able to tap into.

“The bar is ticking over. The bar made money over the weekend and the rehearsal studios are open.

“And it feels good to see some of the bars open in town, though not all of the bars are open because of social distancing, but that’s one of the great things about The Factory: it is spacious. It has got the capacity for 300 people standing, but we are running it as a bar at the moment.

“It is a small club, but at the moment we are in the pub world.

“We can’t open it as a club so we are running it as a sizeable bar.”

As for the musicians, Thom takes heart from the fact that the programme planned for the spring is now ready as the autumn programme or perhaps the New Year programme. Bands haven’t cancelled their gigs. They are just postponed.

“All the acts are going to be back, and that gives the impression that they are able to work, to rehearse and that they are still hanging on.”


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