Still unclear whether Proms will go ahead with audience – Royal Albert Hall boss

Alex Green and Kerri-Ann Roper, PA
·2-min read

The boss of the Royal Albert Hall has said he believes the Proms will go ahead this year – but that it has not yet been decided if they will feature an audience.

Chief executive Craig Hassall said the famous London venue, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, was now looking at reopening to the public in June.

He told the PA news agency it appeared likely the Proms, which usually run from July until the second Saturday in September, would take place, although he did not know in what form.

Last night of the proms 2020
The Last Night of the Proms in 2020 (Chris Christodoulou/BBC/PA)

The 2020 edition featured a reduced orchestra of 65 instead of the usual 300 – but without an audience due to coronavirus restrictions – with the singers placed in the stalls to ensure social distancing.

Mr Hassall said: “Every week that date moves. At the moment we are officially closed until the end of March but to be honest April and May are looking a little bit shaky. We are even looking at June and thinking: ‘I wonder if June is going to work or not?’

“We try and hold on to events as long as we can and then we just have to move them. Luckily, the pattern so far has been that the promoters who have the events are more likely to want to reschedule than cancel, so that is great.”

Mr Hassall said there was not “some magic date” upon which the hall will be able to welcome audiences back.

“I don’t know yet. I will let you know,” he said.

“But we are talking to the Proms about the Proms this year. I think the Proms will go ahead so that is great. I don’t know in what form. It is a very good sign.

“They did the Proms last year with no audience, which was a bit weird, but it was beautifully filmed and looked amazing.

“I guess that is one option but we really want an audience for the Proms. That would be great. And that is mid-July or end of July so we will see.”

The hall, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and named in memory of her husband Prince Albert, remains closed due to the pandemic.

Its recent closure was only the venue’s second since the Blitz.