Resurgent live music sector faces staff shortages
UK industry bodies including LIVE (Live music Industries Venues and Entertainment), the Concert Promoters Association, the Events Industry Forum and the UK Crowd Management Association have written to the prime minister regarding what they describe as crippling staff shortages across large parts of the UK economy.
The live entertainment and events associations are joined by trade bodies representing other sectors, including hospitality, food and drink and retail, in calling for government action to help remediate the situation, with the letter suggesting that EU workers could be allowed to return on a short-term basis to help fill the empty roles.
“While the overall picture is complex, one short-term solution with immediate benefit would be to temporarily ease immigration requirements for the large numbers of workers, particularly from the EU, who have returned to their homelands during the lockdowns. This has contributed greatly to the shortfalls,” reads the letter, which can be read here.
“Indeed, a study in 2020 by the UK’s Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence estimated that 1.3 million migrants left the UK between July 2019 and September 2020. This figure was based on UK labour statistics, and represents over 4% of the UK workforce.
“Unfortunately, evidence suggests that those unemployed within the UK workforce seem unwilling to take on many of the jobs where there are vacancies in the industries we represent. To help resolve this we ask that all those who have worked in the UK over the last three years are given the freedom to return to work here with less restrictive immigration regulations on a short-term basis.
“One short-term solution with immediate benefit would be to temporarily ease immigration requirements”
“A relaxation of the rules does not need to be open ended but it needs to happen quickly if we are to support the recovery of the UK economy.”
The letter comes as entertainment and hospitality businesses in other countries also warn they are facing a staff shortage as they begin to reopen this summer.
In the Netherlands, live music association VNPF is warning that the industry will likely be short of staff when full-capacity shows restart later this year, with many professionals having left the industry over the past 16 months.
Both venues and festivals are short of people, VNPF director Berend Schans tells NU.nl, with the former sector having laid off an average of 20% of their staff last year and the latter probably even more. “Exact figures are lacking, but because that industry [festivals] has been hit even harder than venues, and they have received relatively less government support, I would say that the situation there is even more serious, especially in view of the lay-offs at Mojo Concerts and ID&T, for example.”
Similarly, France, the US and New Zealand are all facing post-pandemic labour shortages, particularly in the hospitality sector, and while the issue has been exacerbated by Brexit in the UK, experts have been warning of shortages for months.
“This will need a government intervention to ensure that the industry has the ability to provide enough staff”
The UK Door Security Association (UKDSA) said back in march that venues and clubs could face trouble reopening as planned following an exodus of security staff during the pandemic.
In addition to EU workers who have gone home, many qualified door staff were forced to find work elsewhere when venues were closed in March 2020.
According to the Security Industry Authority (SIA), over a quarter of the UK’s total security workforce were non-UK nationals in 2018. The UKDSA estimates that over half of the vacancies in the sector may be left unfilled when business restarts gets back to normal later this summer.
“This will need a government intervention to ensure that the industry has the ability to provide enough staff,” says Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association. Concerning new elements in the SIA door supervisor licence which require more training for door staff, Kill adds: “While the training is welcomed, it is not timely given the current economic situation across most of the sector, and consideration needs to be given to it being pushed back to 2022.”
Read IQ’s feature on the challenges of recruiting and restaffing post-pandemic in the latest, 100th issue of the magazine.
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BookMyShow lays off 200 as restrictions continue
Indian ticketing giant BookMyShow has laid off another 200 employees as coronavirus restrictions continue to hurt demand for live entertainment and cinema.
BookMyShow, headquartered in Mumbai (Bombay), is India’s biggest online ticket seller, shifting as much as 50% of the movie-mad country’s cinema tickets and ticketing many of its major live music events. It also operates as a co-promoter for international concerts, such as U2’s historic Mumbai show in December 2019, one of the last before the pandemic hit.
New initiatives such as the launch of livestreaming solution BookMyShow Online in mid-2020 haven’t been enough to avoid further redundancies, following an initial round of 270 lay-offs last May, according to CEO Ashish Hemrajani, who announced the redundancies on Twitter.
Hemrajani tweets that BookMyShow has been forced to let go of “200 of the most incredibly talented and performance-driven individuals” who had been been “handpicked and curated over years”, and that announcing the lay-offs was the “right thing” to do to enable them to find new jobs quickly.
“I’m sure we will all come out of this stronger”
He has asked other companies who have openings for the staff to send him a message on Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org with information.
“I had two thoughts: one of managing optics, or two just doing the right thing,” Hemrajani explains. “And for me, finding each of them a new home, where a new journey can begin, was the easy choice. So if you have leads, please DM me and we will do the needful.
“They will contribute incredibly to the growth of your wonderful firms. I’m sure we will all come out stronger.”
At press time, India had around 60,000 daily cases of Covid-19. While heavy restrictions remain in many areas, some states, such as West Bengal and the Punjab, are again opening up, with restaurants, bars and cinemas allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
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Mallorca Live pilot to trial Covid-19 certificate
Spain’s Mallorca Live will hold a pilot concert later this month using the local health passport to do away with social distancing.
The show, featuring Barcelona-based band Sidonie, will take place on 25 June at Antiguo Aquapark in Calvià, Majorca, with 5,000 people, all of which will have their health status certified by the Certificado Digital Covid (Digital Covid Certificate), the Balearic Islands’ digital health ‘passport’.
To gain entry to the venue, all patrons will have had to have received a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine (interestingly, only a single dose is required), to be immune after having recovered from the disease, or to have had a negative later-flow or PCR test in the previous 72 hours.
An all-standing audience of 5,000 will not be divided into sectors, though, like at previous pilot events in Spain, they will be required to wear a mask at all times.
5,000 people will have their health status certified by the Balearic Islands’ Certificado Digital Covid
Spain’s most recent major pilot event, at the Palau St Jordi arena in Barcelona, revealed no increase in Covid-19 transmission among attendees.
Tickets for the Mallorca Live Summer event cost €26 + booking fee.
The show was previously organised as a seated, socially distanced event. Promoter Mallorca Live says for those already have tickets and aren’t comfortable being in the pilot will be offered a full refund. Other shows in the Mallorca Live Summer series include Rozalén, Morcheeba, Jamie Cullum and Don Patricio.
Mallorca Live Festival will return next summer (24–26 June) with headliner Muse.
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Speaker line-up complete for second Recovery Sessions
The line-up has been finalised for the next half-day Recovery Sessions event, which takes place tomorrow (17 June) and is free to all IQ subscribers.
Joining previously announced speakers are the likes of Jessica Koravos (Really Useful Group/OVG), Kim Bloem (Mojo Concerts), Anna Wade (Boomtown Festival), Stephanie Bax (CAA Icon) and Matthias Grischke (Novitas Versicherungsmakler), who will lend their international expertise to can’t-miss virtual discussions on Covid-19 mitigation measures and cancellation insurance.
The panels, scheduled for 14.00 and 15.00 UK time, respectively, at follow an opening discussion about lessons from the success of live music’s lobbying efforts over the pandemic.
The full schedule, speaker details and session descriptions for tomorrow are as follows:
- 14.00 BST (15.00 CEST)
The Private Sector: Finding a voice
Chair: Greg Parmley, ILMC/LIVE (UK) – chair
Evelyn Richardson, Live Performance Australia (AU)
Alex Schulz, Reeperbahn Festival (DE)
Jonathan Lomax, The Blakeney Group (UK)
Erin Benjamin, Canadian Live Music Association (CA)
If the last 16 months have brought one positive thing, it’s the commercial live music business becoming more organised in speaking to governments and authorities. Prior to the pandemic, the independent and commercially successful live sector was a relative unknown in the halls of power. Now, with grants and support schemes in place, stronger relationships have been forged. So, when it comes to lobbying and campaigning, what can less engaged markets learn from their neighbours? And how important will relationships with politicians be in a post-Covid world?
- 15.00 BST (16.00 CEST)
The Mitigations Session
Jessica Koravos, The Really Useful Group/Oak View Group (UK) – chair
Jim Digby, Event Safety Alliance (US)
Julian Bentley, J-EMSS Limited (UK)
Lisa Ryan, EFM Global Logistics (UK)
Stephanie Bax, CAA Icon (UK)
With many live markets on the verge of reopening, the precautions put in place will vary enormously. From voluntary-risk-assessed mitigations to those required by guidance, what are the latest measures that will restart live music? Our invited line-up of production specialists and industry pros presents a rundown of the top mitigation measures, the latest in testing and certification, and draws from up-to-the-minute guidance from multiple international markets.
- 16.00 BST (17.00 CEST)
Insurance: The missing piece
Anna Wade, Boomtown Festival (UK) – chair
Tim Thornhill, Tysers Insurance Brokers (UK)
James Davies, EC3 Insurance (UK)
Kim Bloem, Mojo Concerts (NL)
Matthias Grischke, Novitas special risk (DE)
While compensation schemes in many European markets have helped build confidence, the absence of commercial cancellation insurance for Covid-19 remains a major barrier to live music’s return. How long will this market failure endure? And when policies do return, what are the likely rates and terms that companies can expect? With an update on availability and progress across Europe and other international markets, this vital Recovery Session will provide a current snapshot.
The Recovery Sessions, supported by ASM Global and Goodtill, is a series of monthly half-day webinars designed to keep the live music industry updated about the international roadmap to reopening. All Recovery Sessions events are free to access for IQ subscribers.
The first Recovery Sessions event took place on 13 May, hosting high-level discussions on the issues around vaccine passports, the takeaways from this year’s major pilot events, and the road to recovery from the points of view of industry leaders (click the links to watch back on demand). Speakers included Melvin Benn (Festival Republic), Marsha Vlasic (AGI), John Sharkey (ASM Global), Pablo Soler (Primavera Sound), Rosanne Janmaat (ID&T), Maria May (CAA) and Dr Paul Twomey (Biosecurity Systems).
To watch the Recovery Sessions panels live tomorrow (17 June), simply head to the dedicated Recovery Sessions page on the website for 14.00 BST/15.00 CEST. As with the first event, all sessions will be available to watch back on demand.
To subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month, click here.
International test events underline concert safety
As businesses and individuals in the UK come to terms with the government’s decision to delay the sector’s reopening by a further four weeks, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that concerts, festivals and other live events held under controlled conditions do not contribute to an increase in transmission of Covid-19.
Data gathered from test events across various European countries is building a picture that if every member of the audience is tested prior to a show, and only those who return a negative test are admitted, the chances of them being infected with Covid-19 during the show are extremely slim.
Crucially, despite the pilot shows listed below using different audience configurations, all of them tested participants before and after the event, and all were hailed as successful both by organisers and by the scientists who monitored the health aspects.
Examining the published evidence of different test events around Europe makes for fascinating reading, albeit with very similar results…
Zero positive cases of Covid-19 were detected seven days after test events in Spa and Namur, neither among the participants nor the control group, the company in charge of testing at the shows, DNAlytics, announced in May.
Those events were the first of six pilot experiments organised in the cultural sector by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. “In the case of Spa, they establish quantitatively that the organisation of an indoor concert can be envisaged with safety, according to an audience size of 50% of the hall’s capacity and by applying the barrier gestures that have become familiar to us,” says Thibault Helleputte, CEO of DNAlytics.
“In the case of Namur [an outdoor event], the results show that, provided some basic health rules are followed, attendance at a show is not associated with a measurable increase in coronavirus contamination.”
“Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection”
A scientific study in Germany of the movement of airborne particles in an indoor environment showed a negligible risk of infection in properly ventilated concert venues.
The test, using a robot, at Dortmund’s 1,500-seat Konzerthaus, was carried out over three days in November by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute of Goslar and particle measurement company Parte Q, with the backing of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency. It followed August’s Restart-19 study (using human participants) by the University Hospital of Halle, which concluded that, with adequate ventilation, live events posed a “low to very low” risk of person-to-person transmission.
“Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection,” says Dr Raphael von Hoensbroech, director of Konzerthaus Dortmund. “The past few months have shown that politics needs a scientifically sound basis for decision-making. With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theatres may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”
The Konzerthaus Dortmund study followed the first pilot show, the similarly successful Restart-19 in Leipzig, in August 2020, which provided the template for subsequent events internationally.
In Barcelona, the indoor concert setting did not increase the coronavirus risk
Festivals per la Cultura Segura, the organiser of a Barcelona pilot concert in March, also reported that the event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed at the show, which had 5,000 attendees.
Having analysed the data, doctors from the show’s medical partners concluded that the indoor concert setting did not increase the coronavirus risk – with concertgoers exhibiting a lower incidence of Covid-19 than the general population in Barcelona at the time.
While the use of a medical-grade FFP2 mask was mandatory, there was no social distancing among fans, who were separated into three areas, once the show got underway.
Of the 4,592 concert attendees who gave consent for the doctors to analyse Covid-19 tests taken after the event, six tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of the Barcelona show (and additional analysis suggests that four of the cases originated outside the concert). Those six represented a cumulative incidence of 130.7 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants, far lower than the 259.5 cases/100,000 people in the city’s population at the time.
Three months’ worth of pilots in the Netherlands proved the risk of infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home
Perhaps most compelling are the findings from three months’ worth of pilot events in the Netherlands which proved that the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home.
Organiser Fieldlab Evenementen included a series of events in its programme, including the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam which was attended by 3,500 fans, but also business conferences, festivals, arena shows, an awards ceremony and outdoor sports events in a range of formats and capacities.
According to Fieldlab’s data, 100%-capacity events are possible under the Netherlands’ lower two risk levels (caution and concern), with a reduction in capacity necessary for levels three and four (serious and severe, respectively).
Fieldlab’s Dimitri Bonthuis says, “Provided you take the right measures, the risk of getting infected at a Fieldlab event is the same as at home.”
Just 15 positive cases of Covid-19 – equivalent to 0.026% of attendees – were recorded among 58,000 people at UK pilots
British culture secretary Oliver Dowden described recent UK pilot shows as “a real success”, noting that just 15 positive cases of Covid-19 – equivalent to 0.026% of attendees – were recorded among 58,000 people during recent pilot events.
On the back of those figures, Dowden said he was “very hopeful” the full reopening of venues, theatres and clubs without social distancing would take place on the target date of 21 June, though this didn’t come to pass.
While the ERP has yet to be released, Dowden has confirmed there were no positive cases from the Brit Awards, which took place with an audience of 4,000 at the O2 in London last month.
There were two positive Covid-19 tests from the ERP’s Sefton Park Pilot, in Liverpool, which involved 5,000 fans, while nine cases were detected among the 6,000 clubbers who attended two dance events, also in Liverpool.
Zero cases were reported from a football match at Wembley, but four infections were detected at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which hosted 17 days of the World Snooker Championship.
No social distancing was in place at any of the ERP events, which used lateral-flow tests to check attendees for the coronavirus prior to entry.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Festivals axed after UK lockdown easing delay
As predicted, a number of UK festivals, among them Black Deer in Kent, have been forced call off their 2021 events at the last minute after yesterday’s government U-turn on lifting remaining coronavirus restrictions on 21 June.
Black Deer, which has a daily capacity of 10,000, was scheduled for 25–27 June, having already postponed by a week to be after the 21st, the final date for lifting all restrictions in England under the UK government’s now-abandoned roadmap. The Americana event, which debuted in 2018, would have featured a line-up that included Van Morrison, Robert Plan’s Saving Grace, Jake Bugg, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Imelda May, Band of Skulls and Foy Vance.
Trade body LIVE had warned that any delay to the 21 June reopening date would wipe an estimated 5,000 concerts, festivals and events from the calendar and cost the live music industry hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenues.
“We can’t quite put into words how we are feeling right now,” say Black Deer organisers on social media. “The delay by the government on the easing of restrictions means we’re unable to bring you Black Deer Festival 2021. It’s devastating news for all connected with Black Deer. But we’ll be back in 2022.”
— Black Deer Festival (@blackdeerfest) June 14, 2021
Elsewhere, several other smaller events have also thrown in the towel, with Glastonferry (5,000-cap.) in Warrington, Bingley Weekender (5,000-cap.) in West Yorkshire and Noisily (2,000-cap.) in Leicestershire among other festivals saying the four-week delay makes their 2021 events untenable.
A statement from Noisily, scheduled for 8–12 July, says: “It is with heavy heavy hearts that we write this message. Today’s announcement was the one that we dreaded – a delay to the release from Covid restrictions. The woods and fields in which Noisily takes place are a part of a working farm, meaning that there is no scope to delay until later in the summer, which means that Noisily 2021 cannot go ahead.”
“We can’t quite put into words how we are feeling right now”
“We know how gutting this is for you all,” organisers continue. “We needed that soul food of meeting in the woods once again, and after pouring our heart and soul into the event on a wing and a prayer, hoping against hope – to have all of that dashed again is beyond devastating.”
Other festivals under threat include popular Sheffield event Tramlines (30,000-cap.), which begins on 24 July, just five days after the new ‘freedom day’.
As the Sheffield Star reports, “that means it could legally still go ahead if the government sticks to the new date”; however, “any further postponement of lockdown easing would force its cancellation, with the existing limit on capacity for outdoor events standing at 4,000, leaving little time to react should that happen.”
Latitude (35,000-cap.), meanwhile, is still on at the time of writing, according to Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn.
In an update posted to the Latitude Twitter account, Benn asks ticketholders to give the company “a little more time” to digest yesterday’s announcement, saying that a decision on the festival should be made by the end of the week. However, the delay doesn’t mean “the end of our hopes for Latitude this year”, says Benn.
Latitude 2021, headlined by Wolf Alice, the Chemical Brothers and Bastille, takes place from 22 to 25 July.
UK fury as government delays reopening date
The British government today (14 June) confirmed that live entertainment businesses will have to endure another month of closure, after deciding that the 21 June date on its roadmap to recovery should be delayed while it deals with the spread of the Delta (Indian) variant of Covid-19.
The devastating decision places numerous businesses in jeopardy, wiping an estimated 5,000 concerts, festivals and events from the calendar and costing the UK industry hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenues.
“Following more than a year of confusion, lost revenue and cancellations, we are devastated the government has not set out any clear path for the restart of the live music industry,” reads a statement from trade body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment). “The government has been quick to talk up the success of the vaccine rollout, but other countries are now ahead of us in opening up full capacity events with simple Covid certification processes, including the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States.
“The government must also provide urgent emergency financial support to those impacted by today’s decision. There are hundreds of millions of pounds from the much-vaunted Culture Recovery Fund unallocated, despite being 15 months on from the start of the crisis. This money needs to get into the industry without any more delay.”
“It is devastating for the live music sector that we continue to be hit with arbitrary restrictions which make live events unviable,” says Lucy Noble, chair of the National Arenas Association. “The Events Research Programme pilot events were supposed to be the key to getting back to full-capacity live performance, and we understand that there were only 15 cases out of 58,000 attendees – although government is refusing to either publish the full report or to allow the sector to open up with the carefully planned precautions which we have been planning and putting in place for months.”
“It is devastating for the live music sector that we continue to be hit with arbitrary restrictions which make live events unviable”
“LIVE remains astounded that the findings have never published in full, given their centrality to the reopening of live events,” continues the statement. “This data must be published immediately so that the sector is able to see on what basis the government is making decisions about the industry’s future, and so that we can play a collaborative role in future proofing live events for years to come.”
“Failure to take immediate action to support the sector could tip many hundreds of grassroots music venues into the abyss,” comments Music Venue Trust (MVT) CEO Mark Davyd.
“The issue is not simply about a delay in reopening or lifting restrictions. It may on the surface look like a short and manageable pause. But there is no provision in place to bridge the resultant funding gap should this occur. Without some certainty on exactly when grassroots music venues can start trading at full capacity again the majority of the sector, already barely surviving on life support, could flat line.”
Davyd’s plea for financial support has been echoed throughout the nation’s live music community.
“The briefing we are seeing of a delay to our reopening later this month is devastating to the live music industry,” “The government said the Events Research Programme would give us the evidence we needed to open safely. We have spent the last three months participating in, and paying for, full-capacity pilot events that gave us this evidence.
“To protect the future of our industry we are calling for full transparency from the government, for them to release the full report that proves how we can open safely and to work with us to give everyone the summer of music we all want.”
“The government said the Events Research Programme would give us the evidence we needed to open safely”
Meanwhile, a flash survey conducted on behalf of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) reveals the hammer blow that the rumoured delay will have on nightlife business such as clubs and venues, with one in four businesses stating they will not survive longer than one month without further government support, while 50% of the industry say they would not survive longer than two months without aid.
The NTIA research notes that 54% of businesses have spent more than £15,000 in preparation for reopening on 21 June already, while 17.8% have spent more than £40,000. And 58% of businesses estimate they will lose more than £10,000 per week in revenue whilst restricted from trading due to easing of lockdown on 21 June, and a third of businesses estimate they will lose 30% of their workforce due to any delay.
“Night-time economy businesses have waited patiently for their opportunity to open for over 15 months,” says NTIA CEO Michael Kill. “Many have not survived, some are on a financial cliff edge, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, a huge pool of talent has been swept away and others have been left to suffer extreme financial hardship.
“Distressed industries cannot continue to be held in limbo, as businesses are left to fall, any decision to delay without clarity on when they can open will leave us no other option but to challenge the government, standing alongside many other industries who have been locked down or restricted from opening for an extreme length of time, through no fault of their own, and at their own cost.”
And Kill notes, “Any delay will drive confidence in the sector to a new low, culminating in workforce leaving the sector, and customers who are starved of social engagement, attending illegal unregulated events in place of businesses that are well operated, licensed and regulated.”
“The government must understand the human impact of this decision”
“The government must understand the human impact of this decision, not only considering the public health challenges of the virus but also the people within our sector who are suffering terribly and the real health risks that this represents, given the overwhelming confidence in the vaccination roll-out, and the ability for the sector to deliver Covid-safe environments.”
Davyd says, “With no funding in place to mitigate any delay in reopening we will see mass evictions and foreclosures by landlords and creditors who ran out of patience a long time ago. The risk of business closures, widespread redundancies and the decimation of our sector is as real now as it was in April 2020.
“The government has the tools it needs to avert a disaster, whatever decisions it needs to make. It has allocated an additional £300 million to support the cultural sector; the prime minister or the culture secretary can swiftly announce that this money will be immediately released to tackle the challenges caused by any delay to reopening.”
Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), says while “AIF understands the rationale for delaying step four of the lockdown roadmap”, “any measures that prevent festivals from operating fully have to be counterbalanced with effective support to ensure businesses can survive.
“For those festival organisers that still have a chance of staging events after July 19, that support is government-backed insurance, which will give them the confidence to continue planning and commit the significant costs that entails. We also must not forget those festivals that have already been forced to cancel or will do so as a result of the delay – they will need a swift and comprehensive financial package to help them survive until the 2022 sales cycle.”
“Any measures that prevent festivals operating have to be counterbalanced with effective support”
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music, is also renewing calls for a government-backed insurance fund. “This delay is also exactly why our industry has desperately needed a government-backed insurance scheme,” he says. “Confidence will be at rock bottom within the sector after today – and so festival and event organisers desperately need that safety net from the Government so they can plan with confidence and avoid financial ruin if the rules change again.
“The UK has one of the most vibrant live music scenes in the world, and the music industry is one of the sectors that should be driving our economic and cultural recovery from this pandemic. If the industry is not to be allowed to operate without restrictions for another month, then continued economic support and an insurance scheme is more vital than ever.”
“If there is to be a one-month delay,” concludes LIVE, “the government must spend that time ensuring there is a simple Covid certification scheme in place by the end of it to ensure that full- capacity events can go ahead, as they are now doing in other countries such the US, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. Businesses remain unable to plan or proceed in any meaningful way, leaving them hamstrung as part of an industry in limbo.
“With hundreds of millions of pounds of the Culture Recovery Fund left unallocated within government, this needs to be pushed out to the music and live entertainment industries urgently to tide the sector over until a concrete way forward is agreed.”
Netherlands and Denmark go full capacity this summer
Live events will be permitted at full capacity in the Netherlands and Denmark – pre-pandemic, respectively Europe’s fifth- and eighth-largest live music markets – as early as this month provided fans can produce proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.
The Dutch minister for economic affairs, Mona Keijzer, announced today (11 June) that ticketed events in the Netherlands may go ahead at 100% capacity after 30 June if they require a vaccination certificate or negative test (the latter a maximum of 40 hours old) from attendees. Currently, a minimum distance of 1.5 metres is required between each eventgoer.
The decision to lift the Netherlands’ final social distancing regulations comes on the back of encouraging results from Fieldlab Evenementen’s Back to Live, the world’s biggest pilot event programme, which revealed that the Covid-19 risk at live events is about the same as bring at home when following hygiene and testing protocols.
“It is great news that events such as festivals and concerts will soon be possible again thanks to the hard work of Fieldlab Evenementen,” says Keijzer. “We now use the insights gained by the Fieldlab organisation to adjust the roadmap. If you have been vaccinated, tested negative or have recovered from Covid-19, you can go to a festival or concert as you could before.”
The new rules initially apply only to ticketed single-day events, though multi-day events and overnight stays will be possible from 29 July, according to NU.nl.
“If you have been vaccinated, tested negative or have recovered from Covid-19, you can go to a festival or concert”
In Denmark, meanwhile, up to 10,000 people will be allowed at “public events” as of Monday (14 June), AFP/Reuters reports, thanks to the country’s Covid-19 ‘passport’, Coronapas, which certifies that the bearer has either tested negative for the coronavirus or is immune/vaccinated.
“We will be able to do everything that we have missed, because we now have the epidemic under control,” Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke told reporters earlier this week.
The loosening of restrictions initially applies only to outdoor events, with 11 August the date when any form of assembly limit (indoors or outdoors) is scheduled to attend, according to The Local. Additionally, there are different rules for music compared to sport and other live events: The live music industry is currently permitted only 2,000 guests for outdoor events and in sections of 500. From 1 July it will be 2,000, in sections of 1,000, and from 15 August it will be 10,000 attendees, albeit in sections of 2,500.
The Danish government is aiming for the Coronapas to be phased out completely by 1 October, when it is hoped enough people will be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The clarification on the rules from August onwards comes too late for Denmark’s major music festivals, which cancelled en masse last month citing a lack of information.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Audience Access Alliance outlines checklist for reopening
Accessibility charity Attitude is Everything has published a ten-point ‘live music checklist’ to help ensure deaf, disabled and neurodivergent fans are made welcome when full-capacity events are allowed to resume in the UK.
Created by the UK’s cross-sector Audience Access Alliance, the initiative is designed to apply to any kind of venue or event and has been widely endorsed throughout the music industry.
With full-scale events in the UK anticipated to resume in coming weeks, Attitude is Everything has urged the country’s music and event industries to adopt its checklist as part of their reopening plans – making sure that the needs of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent (mentally ill or developmentally disabled) fans are considered as included in the reopening strategies for gigs and festivals.
The Audience Access Alliance, launched last year, is a coalition of 13 disability and accessibility organisations and networks that have united to remove barriers for cross-sector audiences across the UK, and is being replicated across the cultural, entertainment and sports sectors.
Designed to apply to any venue or event – from football matches and outdoor festivals to heritage sites, music venues, tourist attractions and theatres – the checklist enshrines the key understandings and policies required for reopening to be fully accessible for deaf and disabled people, many of whom are desperate to start attending shows again.
“The ten-point Accessible Reopening Checklist is designed to help any venue or event get ready to welcome back Deaf and disabled people,” says Attitude is Everything founder Suzanne Bull. “It’s free and easy to use, so there’s no reason for promoters, venue managers and event organisers not to embrace and implement this checklist.
“Deaf and disabled people are looking forward to returning to an inclusive world of sports, arts and culture”
“Deaf and disabled people are artists, employees, volunteers and fans, and they’re looking forward to returning to an inclusive world of sports, arts and culture.”
The full Accessible Reopening Checklist runs as follows:
Any venue or event reopening to the public should be able to say “yes” to these things:
1. We agree that every person has the right to assess their own level of risk.
2. People can find facts on our website about accessibility and Covid-19 safety to make informed decisions.
3. If we have tickets on sale, deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people can arrange the access they need.
4. No one is advised against visiting our event or venue.
5. No one will be challenged about their ‘risk status’ at our entrance due to a perceived ‘vulnerability’.
6. Attendees are not expected to bring a doctor’s note if unable to wear a mask.
7. Our Covid-19 safety measures are accessible for everyone.
8. Our street furniture does not obstruct accessible parking or access routes for attendees or pedestrians.
9. Our staff have been trained in disability awareness and understand our access provision and COVID-safety measures.
10. We are committed to listening to Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people and engaging with any new audiences gained online during lockdown.
Jane Beese, head of music for Manchester International Festival and chair of the LIVE Equality, Diversity & Inclusion group, comments: “When live music returns, it’s imperative that all audiences are able to head back into venues as quickly and safely as possible. This checklist is a great reminder of the needs of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people.”
“Attitude is Everything continues to provide guidance and awareness raising about access issues that are practical but also acknowledge that not everyone might have this in place,” says Beverley Whitrick, strategic director for Music Venue Trust. “The Accessible Reopening Checklist helps identify areas that might need further work so we will be sharing this within our grassroots music venue community.”
Read Suzanne Bull’s recent piece for IQ, which urges the UK industry not to shut out disabled people when it reopens, here:
21 June: Delay would lead to 5,000 UK cancellations
Research published today (10 June) shows that even a four-week delay to the deadline for lifting the final restrictions on live events in the UK would cost the live music sector over £500 million and leave the summer festival season at risk of total collapse.
More than 5,000 shows by artists including Olly Murs, Tom Odell, Rag’n’Bone Man, Beverley Knight, McFly, Alexandra Burke and Rudimental would either need to cancel or postpone if the 21 June deadline was pushed back, incurring immediate costs across the live music supply chain and further damaging an industry already hanging in the balance, according to industry body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).
The rumoured move, as IQ reported earlier this week, comes despite the fact that, by the government’s own evidence, large-scale events can happen safely with the right precautions in place.
Through LIVE, a federation of 13 associations representing more than 3,000 live music companies, the live sector is calling for government to publish the data from the first round of Events Research Programme (ERP) pilots, so “they are able to follow their own science” and allow live businesses to reopen with Covid-safe precautions. The ERP findings which have been released by government to the media show that with screening, improved ventilation and other mitigating factors, mass events are reportedly as safe as a trip to the supermarket.
“We implore the government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations”
Lucy Noble, chair of the National Arenas Association, says: “The pilot shows at the Brits and Liverpool were touted as the key to getting back to full-capacity live performance, which is why it’s extremely frustrating that the government refuses to publish the full report and allow the sector to open up through the carefully planned precautions which are currently waiting in the wings.
“We implore the government to follow their own scientific data that proves live events are safe with the right mitigations. Now is the time for them to protect the live events sector for generations to come.”
Any delay to the 21 June reopening date would have significant and immediate repercussions for grassroots music venues, with 248 venues facing an immediate threat of eviction if the government does not fully compensate their financial losses from delayed reopening, says Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust.
“In the event of any delay to reopening, government action to restore confidence to the sector will need to be swift, decisive and comprehensive,” says Davyd. “Any decision to delay places the sector in the most perilous and uncertain situation since April 2020. All that has been done by government, the public, artist and communities to save our venues risks being undone.”
“We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when step four will take place”
The UK’s much-anticipated summer festival season would also see significant casualties, with 65% of all Association of Independent Festivals members saying they will be forced to cancel if faced with a five-week delay – and 21% already gone.
Jim King, CEO of European festivals for AEG Presents, comments: “A delay into July without a clear road map to get back to step four [full lockdown lifting] puts an impossible strain on all festivals, including AEG’s All Points East festival, along with our suppliers across the industry.
“We cannot keep waiting indefinitely without knowing when step four will take place, and this uncertainty will undoubtedly result, by default, in more cancellations. We are desperate for the UK festival season to begin again, but an undated reopening makes long term planning and investment unfeasible.”