Being one of only 16 venues in the country to be able to put on a music event, The Sound Lounge tells us how the unprecedented challenges has changed the entertainment industry.

The Sound Lounge first hit headlines in 2017 when music fans lent their widespread support to turn a derelict space in Tooting into an inclusive music and arts centre.

The grassroots music venue which relocated to Sutton and has a pop-up venue in Morden, was forced to put arts and culture to a halt due to the pandemic.

Last week, founders Hannah White and Keiron Marshall, were pleased to host a live performance in Morden. But they were soon crushed by the no-shows who took vital spaces with the Covid pre-booking system.

"We were fully booked in advance such that we were turning people away who were trying to book tables.

"However, on the night less than half of the bookings turned up.

"The world has changed really quickly and we are all trying to adapt together and of course things are going to go wrong.

It feels like there are already a lot of obstacles out there preventing people from coming together."

The booking system wasn't the only issue they have faced, with safety measures being "extremely prohibitive."

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Hannah explains how the booking capacity has been reduced from 250 to 47.

"We cannot discriminate and turn people away simply because they are not booking in bubbles so those things reduce capacity even further.

"It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that it doesn’t make financial sense. We had volunteers on the bar. Paying the bar staff, the artist, the sound engineer and tech support is not viable when you only have 47 people in the room."

Speaking about how the pandemic has affected Sound Lounge, Hannah said:

"It has been devastating. We have not been eligible for any of the government grants, like most of the sector.

"We lost 100% of our income, we incurred losses on booked events, stock and ongoing running costs.

"We have had to set up a crowd funder to meet monthly costs and apply for emergency funding from the arts council.

We are lucky that we are in a large, open space room, but still because of the way people are booking our capacity is at 19% of what it should be.

"It’s an incredibly anxious time. Staff are all pulling together but people have their rents to pay and children to feed and we can’t go on like this for much longer without some intervention.

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"The government were slow to respond because nobody in the government spends their time in the grassroots sector. They don’t understand how it works.

"Now the government has announced £1.57billion package for the culture sector and we have been given a window of 11 days to map out the business and the effects that the outbreak has had on its viability.

"In October the arts council will be announcing the results of those first wave applications, but sadly I expect to see venues who aren’t successful, closing their doors for good."

Hannah who performed live at the pop-up event last week, says as an artist, the live performance felt "incredible" after her tours were cancelled due to lockdown.

She said: "The cancellations was a huge blow, not just a devastating loss of income, but a loss of who I am as a person.

"I have done a few live streams but they don’t make up for being in a room.

"So although the audience was small and that there was a lot of rules because people are not allowed to dance or cheer loudly, the joy in the room was palpable.

I was so happy to be face to face (socially-distanced) with human beings and not a screen.

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"It was just beautiful to be with people sharing my songs and feeling the reaction coming back at me.

"It feels hopeful to be phasing an opening and the response to our efforts has been overwhelming.

"People are really connecting with local businesses and community organisations.

"It feels like the local experience has become more important than ever and that is cause for optimism when we are thinking about the future of our high streets.

"We are hoping that the Sutton venue will open later on in the year on a full-time basis- with a programme of cultural shows and events for local people to really come together."

Opening times for Morden is as follows:

Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 3pm as a plant based café

Friday and Saturday evenings as a bar and reduced capacity live music venue.