UK industry welcomes u-turn on alcohol ban
Figures from across the UK’s live music business have welcomed a government U-turn on newly introduced restrictions that would have stopped venues selling alcohol without a full meal. The news comes after a week of intense lobbying from the sector, in particular by umbrella organisation LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).
The British government last week announced a ban on selling alcohol without food for establishments in tier 2, one of the three new tier restriction levels being introduced this week. Tier 2 currently comprises around 60% of the population of England.
With alcohol sales typically making a majority of a venue’s income, and hundreds of venues unable to serve a full meal, the legislation was poised to shut down a large swathe of the sector. Today’s news gives many venues and promoters the ability to programme shows in December and January, albeit still in line with current guidelines on social distancing.
The exemption inserted into the legislation applies “where alcohol is being provided to a customer at a cinema, theatre, concert hall or sportsground and the alcohol is ordered by, and served to, a customer who has a ticket for an exhibition of a film, a performance or an event of training or competition at the venue, to consume in the area where the audience is seated to watch the exhibition, performance or event”.
Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, says: “LIVE is delighted that the government has listened to our calls to allow alcohol to be sold at live music venues under the new tier 2 restrictions. This announcement is hugely important for our industry as stopping the sale of alcohol was going to mean that even if venues were technically able to open under tier 2, they wouldn’t have been able to financially.
“This decision represents a significant opportunity to all in the music industry to economically work on events”
“There’s still a long way to go for the live music industry to recover, and the new situation is extremely challenging for those in tier 3, but we’re grateful to all those involved, in the industry and in government, for securing this sensible step.”
Mark Dayvd, CEO at Music Venue Trust, says: “Music Venue Trust and LIVE worked hard with the government to make the case that the consumption of culture and the consumption of food should be treated equally. We are delighted that guidance has been issued that makes it clear that ticketed events at grassroots music venues can go ahead in tier 2 with alcohol on sale. It makes a direct difference to the number of shows that can be delivered and is a significant step forward in the campaign to Revive Live Music and Reopen Every Venue Safely.”
Nathan Clark, board member at the Association of Independent Promoters, adds: “This decision represents a significant opportunity to all in the music industry to economically work on events, and to also utilise any Culture Recovery Funding. It gives a potential lifeline opportunity to both grassroots venues and promoters that simply wouldn’t have been possible without this amendment. A huge step in the right direction for music.”
The new three-tier system will replace the national lockdown that expires on 2 December. Under tier 2 restrictions, concert halls are permitted to open with up to 1,000 people or 50% occupancy, whichever is smaller, in addition to the existing regulation around maintaining social distancing.
Under tier 3 (which reportedly accounts for 41.5% of the population of England) all hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, including indoor entertainment venues. Areas in tier three include vast swathes or the north-east, north-west, Yorkshire and the Humber, the south-west and the East and West Midlands, as well parts of Kent and the south-east – meaning many music venues in the UK will remain closed.
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EAA announces Arena Resilience Alliance conference
The Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), a special purpose group created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), will host a free virtual conference in December exploring the urgent need for the development of a pan-European strategy for the return to live events.
The conference, titled A Game of Two Halves, will take place on 8 December and focus on why ‘getting fit for purpose’ will be essential to bringing live music and sports events back to arenas and large-capacity venues across Europe, according to the association.
“This event will open important dialogue around why we need unified conditions that will allow music, culture and sports to return to arenas and arenas to re-open their doors for fans of live events,” comments John Langford, president of the EAA.
The virtual conference will address the essential role of arenas as the central hub of the live event ecosystem across Europe, and as key partners to those who organise, promote, play and perform, says the EAA. According to the newly formed ARA, venue closures this year have resulted in the loss of more than 35,000 indoor live events, representing over 113 million lost ticket sales.
Through the event, the ARA hopes to open dialogue with ministers, MEPs and European commissioners with the aim of developing a regulatory framework for the mandatory requirements and measures that enable venues to re-open and facilitate the return of live touring. “A single framework will facilitate business continuity, provide job security and protect the wellbeing of all citizens, employees, freelancers, third-party contractors, players, performers visitors and fans,” the EAA says.
A Game of Two Halves speakers will include Sam Tanson, minister of culture, Luxembourg; MEPs Tomasz Frankowski and Monica Semedo; Tamas Szucs, director of the European Commission’s directorate-general for education, youth, sport and culture; Jason Danter, production manager/director for artists such as Madonna, Lady Gaga and Iron Maiden; Adrian Doyle, board member, European Arenas Association; Ole Hertel, GM, Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust Company (owner of the SSE Arena, Belfast); Luca Scafati, director, business operations, Euroleague; Herman Schueremans, CEO, Live Nation Belgium; Szymon Szemberg, CEO, European Hockey Clubs Alliance; and Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal, Luxembourg.
“We are at a pivotal moment in terms of the planning needed to protect and rebuild the live events ecosystem across Europe”
The first session, focussing on sport, will be a discussion around ‘Aligning product and place: delivering a new fan experience.’ Following a short break, the focus will turn to live music and will explore ‘why a pan-European approach is crucial for live music’s return.’
Closing the event, Gordon Masson, editor of IQ Magazine, will host a fireside-style discussion with ARA co-founders, Oliver Toth and Robert Fitzpatrick.
“We are at a pivotal moment in terms of the planning needed to protect and rebuild the live events ecosystem across Europe,” explains Toth. “Through this special event, the ARA hopes to open important dialogue between the industry and key EU decision-makers to ensure we move forward with a single framework to facilitate the safe return of live events.”
Robert Fitzpatrick adds: “Arenas are central to the cultural fabric of countries throughout Europe and are a key player in the national and regional tourism ecosystem. Without them, event promoters, artists, indoor sports teams and a host of third-party service contractors are at risk of going out of business. The importance of wellbeing for all venue staff and stakeholders cannot be underestimated; our industry is on the precipice of a major mental health crisis.”
The ARA’s A Game of Two Halves virtual conference takes place on Tuesday 8 December 2020, from 14.00–16.30 CET (13.00–15.30 GMT), and is free to attend. The conference, hosted in collaboration with the European Arenas Association and IQ Magazine, will stream live on the EAA YouTube channel.
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Live Nation selected for new Cardiff arena
Live Nation has been identified as the preferred bidder to manage a new 15,000-capacity indoor arena in Cardiff.
The new venue, which will become Live Nation’s second arena in the Welsh capital, will cost around £150 million to build and, it is hoped, attract more than 1m visitors and an estimated £100m into the local economy annually.
A Live Nation-led consortium – which also includes venue company Oak View Group (OVG) and property firm Robertson – was behind one of two offers to Cardiff Council, which was seeking a private-sector partner to “deliver a top-tier UK venue that that will enable events of all sizes to be hosted in the city.”
Live Nation also operates the 5,000-capacity Cardiff International Arena (formerly Motorpoint Arena Cardiff), as well as converted warehouse venue Titan Warehouse. OVG, meanwhile, is currently constructing a new arena, Co-op Live, in Manchester, England.
Russell Goodway, Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for investment and development, says: “The city’s strategy is to establish the Cardiff Arena as a top-tier UK arena and to make it the premier arena in the south-west region of England and Wales.”
“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility”
A rival arena in Bristol, in south-west England, YTL Arena, is now expected to open in 2023, after years of delays. It was originally due to open in 2018, with SMG Europe (now ASM Global) managing, but is now under construction at a new site.
According to Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas, the council will commit less than 15% of the arena’s cost, with the remaining 85%+ of capital investment coming from the council’s private-sector partners.
In a joint statement, Live Nation, Oak View Group and Robertson say: “We are delighted to have been announced preferred bidder today to deliver the new Cardiff arena. We look forward to working in partnership with Cardiff Council to bring this ambitious vision to life over the next few years.
“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility that will bring economic benefits to the entire region, both during its construction and for many years to come once it’s open. In 2021 we will embark on the next phase of the planning process, which will provide the wider community the opportunity to see our exciting proposals for the site.”
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SA’s Howler expands globally with Elrow deal
South African cashless and ticketing payments platform Howler has signed a global ticketing deal with Elrow, the Superstruct-owned Spanish party promoter.
In normal times, Barcelona-based party brand Elrow hosts more than 150 productions annually, attracting millions of fans in 26 countries.
The four-year partnership with Elrow (formerly Elrow Family) will see Howler enter into new European markets and “across more global operations than ever before”, according to Howler CEO Shai Evian. “I have been following the Elrow brand for a number of years,” comments Howler CEO Shai Evian.
“Anyone in the industry knows that Elrow has globally set the benchmark. To work with them at the highest level is a dream come true. The entertainment technology industry is one of the most competitive in the world and it goes to show that South Africa is a breeding ground for next-gen tech. This is a massive vote of confidence, especially in the times we’re in today.”
“This is a massive vote of confidence, especially in the times we’re in today”
Elrow joins existing clients in Europe, including Sónar in Barcelona, Kappa Futur Festival in Italy, Monte Verde in Portugal and Oasis in Morocco, as well as soon-to-be-announced new year’s eve events in New Zealand.
“We are so excited to put Howler on the global events stage, working with the best in the business and helping make moments matter,” continues Evian. “This partnership is especially exciting as technology becomes the cornerstone of events, and as customer behavioural analytics become more and more valuable in creating success for future events.”
Founded in 2015, Howler’s end-to-end platform includes solutions for ticketing, cashless, access, insurance and more for event organisers.
The Johannesburg-company announced the new deal at the virtual Amsterdam Dance Event last month. To watch the webinar back and learn more about the partnership, register at the Howler website.
Femnøise launches map of female and non-binary pros
Femnøise, a digital platform aimed at fighting the gender gap on a global level, has launched a new map feature to help locate and connect women and non-binary professionals in the industry and empower them to monetise their skills.
The map allows users to find other music professionals by filtering geographical area, type of activity and musical genres. Profiles can request to connect to each other, send and receive private messages with other users, and participate in forums and discussion groups.
The platform already boasts 2,000 registered users ranging from tour managers to artists, photographers to designers, conductors to bookers.
“Our idea is to serve as a bridge between different needs, and profiles that fit the demand,” says Natalia San Juan, founder and CEO of Femnøise.
“Our idea is to serve as a bridge between different needs, and profiles that fit the demand”
“For example, if you are preparing your tour and need a guitarist or tour manager; if you want to look for a photographer to renew your book or find a designer for the cover of your next album, you can find her on Femnøise. The connections are as diverse as the profiles that connect.”
Users will also be able to create and monetise small courses using the platform’s nano learning functionality, in turn, helping others on the platform to strengthen their skillsets.
Alongside helping professionals to connect and skillshare, the platform will also give visibility to associations around the world which are promoting women and non-binary professionals in the industry and encourage collaboration to find solutions to diminish the gender gap.
Similar initiatives serving women and non-binary people in the music industry have popped up across Europe, including Helvetiarockt’s one-stop shop for festivals, promoters, bookers, producers, musicians and more in Switzerland and Vick Bain’s F-List directory of UK female and non-binary musicians.
GEI13 will honour ‘transition and transformation’
Registration is now open for the 13th Green Events & Innovations (GEI) conference, which will take place in a virtual format on 2 March 2021.
The 13th edition of the conference on sustainability in events is presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), which is also taking place virtually from 3 to 5 March.
Noting that the number 13 is associated with upheaval and destruction – and with a nod to the pandemic – organisers say GEI13 will honour the theme of transition and transformation.
The conference will reflect on how the industry can be ‘both receptive and active to co-create a better future,’ taking in topics including transport; food systems; equality and inclusivity; health and wellbeing; power systems; design; and materials usage for circularity and more.
“We’ve seen the determination during this difficult year to keep the eye on the ball and come together for sustainability”
Some of the first confirmed speakers include Dale Vince, (Ecotricity, UK); David Ojay (Naam Festival, KE); Tom Schroeder, Paradigm Agency (UK); Gina Perier, Lapee (DK); Gordon Masson, IQ Magazine/ILMC (UK) and Claire O’Neill, AGF (UK).
“We’re really happy to be launching this edition of GEI, be it online,” says Claire O’Neill, AGF co-founder and GEI producer.
“We’ve seen the determination and commitment from all parts of the events industry during this difficult year, to keep the eye on the ball and come together for sustainability, despite the financial hardships we all face.”
GEI13 will welcome industry leaders, professionals, visionaries, governments and all individuals and organisations working to bring environmental and social sustainability to the live events, sports and creative sectors.
The event is now on sale via Ticketsellers, with £35 limited launch price tickets available while they last.
Stagehand launches prize draw for crew relief fund
Live production hardship fund Stagehand, along with Crowdfunder, has launched a prize draw to raise funds for production staff and stage crew impacted by the loss of work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The #ILoveLive draw will give fans the chance to win unique memorabilia from artists and live music organisations such as signed guitars from Nile Rodgers, Liam Gallagher, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton and more; hand-written lyrics by Florence Welch, Robbie Williams and Years & Years; and a rare mask worn by FKA Twigs during her live show.
Fans can choose which artists they want to buy tickets for and can increase their chances of winning by purchasing multiple tickets, which are priced at £5 each. The draw is now live until 17 December and winners will be chosen on 23 December.
“We know that when live shows can take place again in financially viable ways, the industry will be extremely busy,” says Mike Lowe, the chair of Stagehand’s board of trustees.
“Artists, festivals and venues just want to get back to work and the public are hungry to see live entertainment again. No live show of any kind can happen without the skills and expertise of the army of live events workers. I am sure that the live events industry workers who we can help, will join me and my fellow trustees in expressing our massive appreciation for making all of this happen in the most difficult and unprecedented of times.”
“No live show of any kind can happen without the skills and expertise of the army of live events workers”
Stagehand, which is this year’s Nikos Fund – the ILMC charity of the year, aims to raise at least £1 million before Christmas.
The charity has already raised £280,000 in donations from PPL, the BPI, major record labels and artist management companies – most of which went to the 300 crew members in the most desperate need earlier this month.
Stagehand has also launched several fundraising initiatives including Prints For Music, which launched earlier this week.
Organised by photographer Ed Robinson, a slate of celebrated photographers including Rankin, Tony McGee and Jill Furmanovsky have donated iconic music shots to raise money for Stagehand’s Covid-19 Crew Relief Fund.
Over 100 iconic prints of globally treasured artists such as David Bowie, Grace Jones and The Rolling Stones, are now on sale for £95 each for a limited time of four weeks, with 100% of proceeds going to the fund.
Stagehand is one of the many funds for live technicians, most of which were set up during the pandemic. According to the charity, over 60% of the people working in the industry are freelancers without any support from a larger company and over 20% of all crew have discovered that they don’t qualify for any government support at all.
Aus festivals receive share of gov’s $75m Rise fund
The promoters behind Australian festivals including Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival are among the first recipients of the federal government’s AU$75 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (Rise) fund.
The fund is part of the government’s $250 m Creative Economy Support Package to help restart activities such as festivals, concerts, tours and events once it is safe to do so.
Music festivals in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria were among the first recipients of the Rise fund, with Byron Bay Bluesfest receiving $1 m for its 2021 event to run between 1–5 April over the Easter long weekend.
The event, which normally draws 100,000 patrons, was cancelled this year when Covid restrictions came into effect, weeks before it was expected to go ahead.
An economic impact report showed that the cancellation of Byron Bay Bluesfest deprived the state of New South Wales of over $200m and 1,150 jobs.
This week, Bluesfest revealed that it has dropped all international names from its bill and is debuting a completely domestic lineup featuring Jimmy Barnes, Tash Sultana, Ocean Alley and more. The festival revealed that four months out, 70% of tickets have been sold.
Other NSW recipients include Secret Sounds, the promoters behind Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival (both of which were cancelled this year), which will receive $1.5 m to develop a new festival ‘that would keep audiences connected while also reaching new audiences across Australia and overseas’.
“My message to everyone in the arts and entertainment sector is – we want you back out there doing what you do best”
Reportedly, the new festival will be among the additional events that Secret Sounds has applied to host at the Byron Parklands site.
In the first round, NSW has received $17.8 m which will go to 28 organisations while Victoria has received $20 m for 48 projects.
Successful applicants in Victoria include Melbourne International Arts Festival/Rising ($1.48 m); Melbourne Fringe ($275,000); and Castlemaine State Festival in regional Victoria ($172,900).
The arts sector has expressed impatience with the minister’s office over the time it has taken to announce the recipients. A full list is to be published by the Office for the Arts in mid-December.
“As well as generating jobs and income, the Rise fund means there will be lots of shows that Australians can go and see – and that’s good news for all of us after a tough year,” says minister for communications, cyber safety and the arts, Paul Fletcher.
“And my message to Australia’s artists and performers, to backstage crew, to everyone in the arts and entertainment sector, is – we want you back out there doing what you do best, and Rise is going to really help that happen.”
The federal government has also published a roadmap for “reactivating live performance venues and events” in Australia. The guidelines break up the return to live music into three steps, though it delegates decision making on capacities to state jurisdictions. It projects an ultimate return to standing concerts only in outdoor and “mixed” performance spaces.
Festivals are also projected to make their return after the final step, with restrictions.
Many venues remain closed under new England tier system
Hundreds of venues in England will be forced remain closed when the current lockdown ends on 2 December, the UK government announced today (26 November).
The lockdown is being replaced by a tiered system, in which the regions of England are placed into either tiers one, two or three.
Under tier three – the strictest measures – all indoor entertainment venues must close, according to the BBC. Areas in tier three include vast swathes or the north-east, north-west, Yorkshire and the Humber, the south-west and the East and West Midlands, as well parts of Kent and the south-east.
Tier two, which comprises the majority of the rest of England, prohibits socialising indoors with anyone outside one’s household, allowing only for limited outdoor gatherings. Pubs, meanwhile, may only reopen if they serve food with alcohol.
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, says the announcement “of regional tier levels by health secretary Matt Hancock has brought about a stark reality to the night-time economy and hospitality businesses, diminishing hopes of trading through the key festive period for many, with a long winter ahead fighting to survive.
“We are bearing the burden so that other sectors are able to open during the festive period”
“[It is] devastating news, particularly for the Midlands and north of England, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle, which have been hardest hit with the implementation of tier three, with the majority of regions being placed in tier two and very limited areas in tier one.
“Industry and business leaders are speaking up, highlighting the immense impact of restrictions to their sector, individual companies releasing huge redundancy figures, business owners suffering from mental health, and suicide rates within the sector steadily increasing.”
He adds “The government must compensate these businesses for the period of time they have been closed, and the loss of business suffered due to restrictions through the festive period. The sector has suffered horrendously since the start of the pandemic and is bearing the burden so that other sectors are able to open during the festive period.”
Society of London Theatre (Solt) chief executive Julian Bird says the announcement was “a relief for theatres in tier one and two areas, including London’s West End, but equally devastating for tier three theatres yet again forced to postpone or cancel shows – especially pantos, usually an annual highlight for families and a vital source of income for theatres around the country.
“This risks the survival of many venues and leaves thousands of theatre professionals struggling over the Christmas period, particularly freelancers who cannot rely on government support.”
Registration opens for IPM 14
Registration is open for the 14th ILMC Production Meeting (IPM), which will take place in a virtual format on 2 March 2021.
For 2021, IPM returns to its traditional slot the day before ILMC, which is also taking place virtually from 3 to 5 March. IPM 14 will welcome production managers, health, safety and security specialists, crewing companies, sound and lighting companies, venue personnel, tech companies and production services and suppliers, as well as representatives from promoters, venues and others with an interest in international event production.
According to organisers, next year’s programme is looking “bigger and bolder” than ever before, with additional sessions and speakers from across the globe. The agenda team are welcoming suggestions for panels or other topics, including ideas for guest speakers and new products or services.
The IPM 14 agenda team are welcoming suggestions for panels or other topics
A ticket to IPM 14 will provide access to all panels, as well as the Production Notes sessions and a selection of break-out discussions shared with the Green Events & Innovations Conference, which takes place simultaneously.
Delegates will also have numerous opportunities to network throughout the day, with options to organise one-to-one and private meetings, hang out in networking lounges, visit exhibition stands and talk with old friends, and make new ones, during virtual speed meetings.
Tickets are now available at a discounted earlybird rate of £35 + booking fee. To join the biggest names in the international production community next March, register for IPM here.