THE company which has transformed a grade II listed building in Rossendale into a successful concert venue has been awarded £100,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Elite Concerts International which took over St Mary’s Chambers in Rawtenstall less than a year ago had brought internationally-acclaimed acts to the venue including Judge Jules, The Drifters and The Bluetones when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Undeterred the venue has begun to stage socially-distanced live shows - including a series of 10 shows by leading Elvis tribute Chris Connor.

“Our first socially-distanced events have gone even better than we could have hoped,” said venue owner John Patrick Ljevar. “We are incredibly proud of what we have managed to put together in light of the current situation and we genuinely feel that these are some of the best, Covid-secure events available in the region.

“However, with a greatly reduced capacity, it just wasn’t possible to make the substantial profit needed to ensure our survival, especially as we strive to uphold our mandate of high-quality entertainment only. Therefore, it was an incredibly joyous moment when the news arrived that our application for Arts Council funding had been accepted.

“This ensures are safety for the foreseeable and I’m pleased for the staff more than anything.”

As an entertainment venue St Mary’s Chambers is permitted to remain open in the current climate.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to receive the funding and for now at least have the permission to remain open,” said John. “We are now able to ramp up our socially distanced event calendar with new shows to be announced imminently.”

Chris Connor will be performing four more shows as Elvis over the next two weekends and other acts lined up include tributes to Tina Turner, Oasis and James.