It’s fair to say that we’ve all had a bit of a strange year. The global pandemic has impacted us in ways we never thought possible. Home entertainment has become a necessary buffer for our mental health and wellbeing with many people turning to podcasts to fill the hours spent at home or on walks.
One of the areas most impacted by the coronavirus is that of live entertainment: the music, comedy and performance sectors are all really feeling the knock-on effects, and the venues which host us are starting to face the consequences. Kings Place in London has become known as the home of live podcasts, with many podcasters referring to the venue as the industry’s equivalent of Wembley. Unfortunately, Kings Place is facing great difficulties. Zoë Jeyes, Deputy Managing Director, explains:
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on all areas of our lives and has left venues like Kings Place in crisis – and as a charity we are fighting for survival. We’re forecasting for a £2.5 million loss of income this year and after reopening we’ll be working with 70% less capacity in our spaces for the foreseeable future.
It’s fantastic that the government has stood up for culture, but there is still a long and difficult road ahead. We don’t yet know the details of when funding will be available or what support we will be eligible for.
We’re committed to being innovative and ground-breaking over the next several months to get through this and we’ve had incredible support from our audiences. We’ve launched a fundraising campaign and have been blown away by our supporters’ generosity. After months without income, and an uncertain period ahead, every single penny counts towards keeping the organisation going.
Kings Place is run by people who are passionate about the podcast industry and have championed the makers of podcasts from an early period. Zoë gives us a brief history of the venue’s involvement in the live scene.
We’re the biggest podcast fans in the world and are passionate about live podcasting. We’ve been running live podcasts at the venue for ten years, long before it became fashionable! They’ve become a huge part of our programming in that time. In 2016 we launched the London Podcast Festival (LPF), the first podcast festival in Europe, and this festival has since welcomed over 30,000 visitors and 300 podcasters.
Our whole venue is designed around acoustics, they’re not only beautiful spaces to perform in, but world class recording studios. As well as hosting one-off live podcasts throughout the year, we’re the regular venue for a wide range of UK podcasts like My Dad Wrote A Porno, The Guilty Feminist and the Empire Podcast. We’re also been the home of the British Podcast Awards, ShoutOut Live! and frequently host podcaster meet-ups and facilitate podcasting workshops and masterclasses, giving our spaces for free. Alongside the main festival we’ve created one day mini-festivals, serving specific podcast communities like LPF Presents: Wrestling, and last year’s LPF Presents: Audio Drama.
What would it mean if we lost Kings Place as a space for podcasts?
I think there is something truly special about the podcast community and that we offer them something unique – a platform for collaboration and creativity for podcasters and a space for fans to connect with each other and their favourite shows.
A big part of that is the London Podcast Festival, an event which is so special to me and I hope to UK podcasting as a whole. It’s entirely produced and programmed by the Kings Place team and losing it would be a big blow.
With podcasts being downloaded each and every day, many of us may forget how much work goes into a single episode and the many different people that have played a part in its production. Kings Place provides a necessary home so that the industry as a whole can survive. So what can we do to help?
We desperately want to open safely again. But we do need help. If you are able to, you can donate to our fundraising campaign on our website, and spreading the word helps too! We’re so grateful for your support. We can’t wait to welcome you back. Outside of the main festival, we’ll continue to collaborate with podcasters to create festivals and events and innovate new formats for live podcasts and we’ll continue to be a home for podcasters and fans year round.
In a world of social distancing, live performance will be very different for many months to come. Luckily, live podcasting is uniquely placed to thrive in a digital world. The safety of performers, audiences and our staff will be our highest priority as we look at ways we can bring the podcasting world together in community and celebration. It’s our fifth anniversary, and though we won’t be able to do things in quite the same way we’re determined to do something special this year. Watch this space!