University of Bristol study aims to help bring gigs back

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By Greg Evans, Digital Music Editor

The study aims to provide a science-based pathway for public venues to reopen.

A new research project involving researchers at the University of Bristol, and supported by Public Health England, has been established to investigate the transmission of respiratory particles in performance venues.

PERFORM (ParticlatE Respiratory Matter to InForm Guidance for the Safe Distancing of PerfOrmeRs in a COVID-19 PandeMic) is a collaborative study between Imperial College London, University of Bristol, Wrexham Park Hospital, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, Royal Brompton Hospital and ARUP.

It is hoped this research will provide a science-based pathway for the safe re-opening of performance spaces during the coronavirus pandemic.

Live performance in the UK stopped on March 20th due to public venue closures: Guy Marcham | Epigram

Live performance in the UK ground to a halt with the closure of public venues on March 20th, putting many people out of work, from visual artists to sound technicians.

As of 2018 there were approximately 296,000 people employed in the music, performing and visual arts sector in the UK, and in Bristol alone it is estimated that 6,000 people are directly employed within the industry.

The freelance nature of much of the employment within the sector, as well as the government’s furlough scheme ending in October, means this research will be significant in ensuring the safe return of live performance in the UK.

The PERFORM research will study the volume of respiratory particles produced by speaking, singing and the playing of wind instruments within performance spaces.

It will also look at the effects of performance length, venue size, venue temperature, ventilation systems and the distance between performers and their audience.

Jonathan Reid, a Professor at the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry said: ‘We hope our research will provide a rigorous scientific basis for a plan of action to enable arts venues to operate safely for both the performers and audience.’

With University students already returning to the city, the re-opening of live-music venues is greatly anticipated across Bristol.

It is hoped this research will provide guidelines that prioritise public safety, as the performing arts industry navigates the coronavirus pandemic.

Featured: Epigram / Jenny McDowell-Langford / Guy Marcham


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