By Grahame Anderson

An innovative socially distanced outdoor venue will see concert goers enjoying great music this summer in the North East. In fact, several high-profile acts are already lined up with details due to be released on July 7th.

Situated the grounds of Gosforth Park, the home of Newcastle racecourse, Virgin Money Unity Arena will host a diverse programme of events, from live music and DJ sets to family entertainment and stand-up comedy. The team behind Newcastle’s popular ‘This Is Tomorrow Festival’, are behind the project.

Supervised by SSD Concerts, the arena will carry a drive-in system, enabling people with tickets from the same household to arrive at the venue, park and enjoy the event from the comfort of their own personal viewing platform. Each viewing area will be placed at least two metres apart from the next. Food and drinks can be pre-ordered. There will also be a one-way system allowing safe use of toilet facilities. Entry will be checked via license plate to ensure no interaction is needed between venue staff and customers.

Helen Page, Group Brand and Marketing Director at Virgin Money said: “At Virgin Money we are being as innovative as possible during these challenging times, and music is very much at the heart of our new brand direction. We are delighted to play a part in bringing back live music events as we start to emerge from lockdown.

This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans. We’re looking forward to partnering with The Unity Arena on this event near to our Virgin Money home in Gosforth.”

Managing director of SSD, Steve Davis, said: “Since all of our scheduled concerts have been postponed to later in the year and all venues in the city closed, the staff at SSD had a willingness to continue.

We can’t be without music during these times so our only thought has been how can we bring music back to the British public safely and responsibly.

“We have been hosting loads of live sessions and DJ sets across our social media, supporting local artists and raising money for the NHS. Now, we’re taking it one step further as the UK slowly comes out of Lockdown.”

Newcastle City Council Cabinet member for employment and culture Ged Bell, added: “The city has a great reputation for hosting music and cultural events.

“While this pandemic has hit the sector particularly hard, the concert planned at the racecourse is a brilliant innovation where people will be able to enjoy top bands in a safe, responsible and socially-distanced way. It is fantastic to see such a creative response to enable us to experience live performances once again.”

SSD Concerts are working in partnership with production company Engine No. 4 (Parklife Festival and Kendal Calling) to construct the arena and put all social distancing procedures and infrastructure in place.

The arena is scheduled to open in August and will remain until the end of the summer.

For more information about Virgin Money Unity Arena – visit: www.virginmoneyunityarena.com