The answer is yes.
Announced today (the alarm was raised by a contact who reads another classical music blog – yes, I was incensed) by the BBC Proms team, this year’s since WILL operate at full capacity with additional tickets for the first half of the Proms going on sale at midday on Friday, 23 July, and tickets for the second half of the season going on sale at 9am on Saturday, 24 July.
Promming tickets will be available on the day of each concert priced at just £6. There will be standing tickets available in the Arena and Gallery with additional seated Promming tickets in the Choir.
Audience members will be encouraged to wear masks throughout, and their COVID status certification will be checked on entry.
You’ll need to have evidence of a negative lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of the performance, or evidence of double vaccination, or proof of natural immunity based on a positive PCR test.
It’s unexpected news. I’d been aware more tickets would be on sale after the 19th July easing of restrictions, but not been aware of Promming now being possible.
The news comes on the day when I found my own thinking both shifting whilst in conversation with an arts administrator on the subject of masks. The need to return to events was the overriding driver, accompanied by a surprising willingness to make personal decisions about whether or not to go masked based on individual situations. Both of us nodded in agreement. “I don’t want to be seen to be agreeing with Jacob Rees-Mogg,” I said. “Who does?” said my lunch companion. “But I’m veering on the side of personal choice.”
The extent to which this will be reflected amongst the Promming audience remains to be seen. Hot sweaty evenings in close proximity of others isn’t something which necessarily leaps off the page now. Though having the freedom to choose whether or not to attend the Proms as a Prommer perhaps is the more potent sign.
It’s a difficult one to square. Cases are reaching the level they did in January (though hospital cases are significantly lower, so to deaths). Not everyone will agree. But having the option, and the opportunity to calculate the risk, is perhaps the more important (to me at least) right now.