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DEAG CEO bullish as German ‘Freedom Day’ confirmed

Peter Schwenkow tells IQ of his hopes for a record year after Germany, Austria and Switzerland all reveal reopening plans

By James Hanley on 17 Feb 2022

DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow

DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow


DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow is predicting a record 2022 after the German government unveiled its roadmap back to full capacity live events.

With most coronavirus rules already or about to be lifted in the UK, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, Germany has now confirmed a gradual, three-step approach to reopening, culminating in a long-awaited “Freedom Day” on 20 March, amid falling infection numbers.

Beginning with the removal of restrictions on private indoor meetings for the vaccinated, capacity limits on major outdoor events will be raised from 10,000 to 25,000 (or 75% capacity) on 4 March, with clubs also allowed to reopen from that date. Most other Covid curbs will then be axed from 20 March, although basic protective measures such as mask-wearing will remain.

Berlin-based DEAG reported a 126% increase in sales in its most recent financial report, and Schwenkow tells IQ he is confident of the touring market is on an upward trajectory, while acknowledging the ongoing issues it faces with regards to rescheduled shows, re-staffing and the supply chain.

“We are very much convinced we will see a record year”

“We are very much convinced we will see a record year, just by delivering the 5,000-plus shows we have on sale,” he says. “Probably not with the full profit margins due to lack of personnel and by accepting higher costs at ticket prices from 2020 and 2021, but still strong.”

Over in Austria, where measures will be lifted on 5 March, Goodlive Artists Austria’s Silvio Huber warns there are still major obstacles on the live sector’s road to recovery.

“We are glad that restrictions will be lifted soon. It’s about time after two years of uncertainty, worries and nearly no shows,” he tells IQ. “On the other hand, we will face lots of challenges and 2022 will be a tough ride for sure. The market is packed with shows, there is an immense lack of experienced local crews and we will see a significant rise in production costs, rentals and more.

“Additionally we shouldn’t forget that we are not used to a pre-pandemic workload yet! I guess this will be the hardest challenge for our industry this year. I’m really looking forward though as I’m convinced we will overcome all these difficulties.”

“The sale of tickets for regularly planned events will only start slowly and the market will only recover after several months”

Switzerland will also lift almost all pandemic restrictions from midnight on 18 February. Swiss trade body Alliance of Organizer Associations has welcomed the planned easing, but pointed out that it will be months before public confidence is restored and ticket sales return to pre-pandemic levels.

“On the one hand, the existing measures and the cautious behaviour of the public led to the cancellation or postponement of almost all major events planned until the second quarter of 2022,” it said in a statement. “In the same period, almost all events with international artists had to be postponed or cancelled. This presents the industry with the problem of a production backlog and the resulting oversaturation of the market. It can therefore be assumed that the sale of tickets for regularly planned events will only start slowly and the market will only recover after several months.

“On the other hand, the event industry is subject to numerous international dependencies, which – despite easing in Switzerland – continues to pose planning uncertainties for the industry.

“These special circumstances and difficulties in the event industry must be taken into account by ensuring support and compensation measures for as long as there are restrictions and also for an after-effect period of at least 12 months. The latter is also urgently indicated because the lead time for planning large events is several months to one and a half years.”

 


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