A music, comedy and family entertainment festival will be held in Newcastle over the next month and local councillors have highlighted the importance of the event towards the region’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Virgin Money Unity Arena, at Newcastle Racecourse, will host 29 events on 26 days. Acts like Sam Fender, Supergrass, Jason Manford, Bill Bailey, Maximo Park, Alfie Boe and Ronan Keating will be taking part in the festival.

The event will be held at the pop-up site with social distancing in place to ensure the safety of attendees. Councillors have praised the organisers and believe it will support the region’s cultural sector.

Cllr Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for employment and culture, said: “Right now times are exceptionally tough for our vibrant community of world-class creative professionals in Newcastle, but we know that culture will play a key role in helping our city to heal from the effects of this pandemic

“While we are doing all we can for them for Newcastle to rebuild itself as the leading cultural destination we all love we need independent festivals like this to support the recovery of the sector and provide our people with a diverse programme of events.

“Culture supports economic development, public health, and quality of life, and we want to see an environment in which individuals, businesses and organisations can again flourish and residents have the opportunities to enjoy all that Newcastle has to offer.”

Despite the festival not being a council organised event, Cllr John-Paul Stephenson, cabinet member for environment and regulatory services, praised the organisers’ attention to details for ensuring the event is safe.

He said: “While the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has published guidance on how to put on shows safely it is positive to see that organisers have endeavoured to go beyond what is required.

“As the team behind the This Is Tomorrow festival they already know how to put on major events in our city, and through the specialist production company they have brought in to work with them they gain extensive experience, including one of the people who helped develop the Government’s COVID advice for outdoor events.

“Scrutinising their plans we are pleased to see measures such as staggered entrance times, strict social distancing measures, stringent cleaning regimes, mask requirements for concert-goers when not in designated viewing enclosures, and track and trace procedures all in place to keep people as safe as possible.

“Of course we have, from the outset, highlighted the close proximity of homes and the potential public health risks associated with such large scale events, but we know that organisers are keen to be good neighbours and not cause disruption or nuisance to the local community.”