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.
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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.”
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47% decrease in new artists touring Europe
The number of new artists touring Europe has fallen by nearly 50% in 2019–20, according to a new report that illustrates the impact of ongoing venue closures on emerging acts.
Research by Liveurope, an EU-backed association of 16 music venues, shows a 47% decrease in new acts touring in Europe compared to 2018–19. According to the organisation, which is calling for more aid at a European level, “the circulation of European artists, in particular emerging ones, can only return to pre-crisis levels if ambitious and targeted EU support is deployed.”
“After months of closure, our venues are faced with substantial economic losses and extended temporary lay-offs,” says Liveurope coordinator Elise Phamgia.“In this context, the safety net that our platform provides to them will be all the more crucial to help them continue bringing the diversity of European music to their audiences.
“After months of closure, our venues are faced with substantial economic losses”
“Scaling up the [funding] envelopes allocated to initiatives like ours would allow us to continue our mission, and support a greater number of music venues across the continent in their efforts to strengthen the European dimension of their line-ups.”
Liveurope members include Brussels arena Ancienne Belgique, Luxembourg’s Rockhal, Melkweg in Amsterdam and London’s Village Underground.
A recent report by the European Commission recommends an increase in the amount of funding for initiatives such as Liveurope in the upcoming EU budget.
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Agents of Change: The agency business in transition
On 20 October, five US agents, all formerly of Paradigm Talent Agency, announced the formation of Arrival Artists – a brand-new booking agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, a roster that includes the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Khruangbin and BadBadNotGood, and a partnership with European agency ATC Live for global representation of acts shared across both rosters.
Following the termination of hundreds of jobs by the Hollywood-headquartered global agencies since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the kind of news observers of the agency space have come to expect – a group of agents from one multinational join forces and go independent – and follows the launch of two other new US indies, TBA Agency and Mint Talent Group, in late August and mid-September, respectively, and the likes of Route One Booking and Jon Ollier’s One Fiinix Live in the UK earlier this month.
The resurgence of the independent agency, and the apparent fracturing of the corporate giants following years of consolidation, is being watched closely in the broader live music world, where rumours abound of further agency launches and rebrands – including in Europe – in the months ahead.
Nowhere is this more the case than in London, where recent mergers include Primary Talent with ICM Partners and K2 Agency with Artist Group International. And while uncertainty reins, takeovers, strategic pacts and new ventures will all be under consideration for every business.
“It’s clearly a very challenging time for anyone working in live music at the moment,” says ATC Live’s Alex Bruford, whose roster includes Nick Cave, The Lumineers, Metronomy, Black Pumas and Fontaines DC. “No matter the size of the business, if your company relies on live touring, and there is no touring, it’s very difficult.”
“The idea in agency culture has long been geared towards an idea of ‘the bigger the better’”
“Clearly, we all have had to face major challenges in 2020, and we will continue to have significant challenges thrown at us for some time,” agrees Angus Baskerville, partner at 13 Artists, who works with artists including George Ezra, Brittany Howard, Jamiroquai, Michael Kiwanuka, Benjamin Clementine and Paolo Nutini.
But are ATC Live, 13 Artists and other UK-based indies such as ITB, Asgard, Midnight Mango and smaller boutique firms, better placed than their corporate cousins to survive, and even thrive, during the current crisis? With concert activity on hold, is it actually a blessing to be free of the structure of a large company – and are we witnessing a new era of independence in live music booking, the likes of which we haven’t seen for the best part of a decade?
Bigger: not always better
The past seven months have done much to expose some of the myths of pre-Covid thinking within the business, according to Earth Agency’s Rebecca Prochnik, who represents artists including Skepta, JME, AJ Tracey and Nines. “The idea in agency culture has long been geared towards an idea of ‘the bigger the better’,” explains Prochnik. “For a long time, the structural strategy of the larger agencies has been upscaling teams around artists, to provide a more intensive job. While I understand the reasoning, the model creates a lot of employment volume, and in fact the potential for disconnection that has never made full sense to me.”
“Sometimes I look at some of the bigger agencies, and you have too many agents or bookers squabbling over every artist that comes in,” echoes Obi Asika, founder and CEO of Echo Location Talent (Marshmello, Da Baby, Wizkid, Chase & Status, Pendulum, Major Lazer, Giggs). “Many artists have multiple agents, in part to ensure no one agent has too much power over the wider agency. That’s not workable anymore. There’s no guarantee this [a concert-stopping pandemic] won’t happen again – you’ve got to be careful of your overheads.”
“Some large businesses will have been better protected than other large businesses going into this, and I’m sure it’s the same for the smaller ones,” adds Baskerville. “Saying that, I do believe the independent sector has the possibility of thriving in 2021 and beyond, as we’re required to modernise and refresh approaches to the way we work – and do that quickly.”
“Independent companies have been able to be more nimble and adapt faster to new ways of working”
For many of the bigger, multinational agencies, the financial impact of this “surplus” is amplified by huge levels of corporate debt, which in some cases amounts to many times their annual revenues.
According to investment banker Lloyd Greif, Endeavor – the parent company of WME – is shouldering a staggering US$5.1 billion debt, while CAA has $1.15bn coming due in 2026, in addition to a $125 million revolving credit facility. Paradigm, meanwhile, is believed to owe around $80m, following multiple debt-financed acquisitions over the past decade.
Paul Boswell, of Free Trade Agency (The National, Tones and I, Wilco, Tash Sultana, Violent Femmes), says he believes that while the live entertainment shutdown is “clearly bad for all,” it will “hurt those that practice borrow-and-buy capitalism the most.”
“As an independent business, we’ve always been careful not to fall for the seductive culture of living beyond our means: even if money is flowing, we’ve stayed low to the ground on spend,” adds Prochnik. “We’ve always had a culture of working remotely – of needing an office solely for the wellbeing and connection of our staff community, rather than for external business. Throughout my career, I’ve taken my meetings in cars, in cafes, in parks, on the phone… It’s really only ever mattered that I can relate well and do a creative job for my clients as needed.
“What Covid’s done is blow away the myth that an independent attitude is a quirk. Big offices, gleaming receptions, plaques on walls, meeting rooms, games rooms, listening rooms… At the end of the day, those things are all just optics, and ones which suddenly seem tremendously outdated. None of those things shape business in a meaningful way…”
“When the dust settles, there are going to be huge changes”
“The importance of having an office as a status symbol – that, for me, has gone,” adds Asika. “You don’t need a shiny office, and you also don’t need people coming into work every day; if you don’t trust the people working for you, that’s a problem. I’ve enjoyed being at home with my family, and I want that flexibility for my business and staff.” “This virus is terrible, but there are potentially worse ones in the future,” he adds. “And when that comes, you want to be the little speedboat nipping around, not the big cruise liner…”
Agrees Prochnik: “Independent and smaller agencies tend to have a shared personality of sourcing and creating whatever there is to do, thinking outside the box, breaking moulds in order to make business work. I think this inherent culture of flexibility, nimbleness and creating value out of thin air is invaluable in these new times.”
“We’ve seen with companies across our sector, from agencies to promoters to ticketing companies, that often the larger the organisation – and therefore the higher the overheads – the harder hit they have been,” says Bruford. “In many cases, independent companies have been able to be more nimble and adapt faster to new ways of working, new opportunities and the changing landscape.”
The great equaliser
According to Asika, “When the dust settles, there are going to be huge changes” across the agency sector as a result of the current “correction.” “From the value of artists, to where people work, what people have started in this time, what new companies pop up… there are all these things happening in the background, and it’s going to have a long-term impact,” he predicts.
Virtually Live: ILMC 33 launches with Azoff keynote
The organisers of the International Live Music Conference today (25 November) launched ILMC 33, the 2021 edition of the conference and the first in an all-virtual format.
Without the physical confines of a conference space, the annual event – which typically welcomes 2,000 professionals annually – will programme an expanded schedule of panels, meetings, workshops and keynotes.
Also announced today is ILMC 2021’s first keynote interview, featuring legendary music executive Irving Azoff. Hosted by Ed Bicknell, The (Late) Breakfast Meeting with Irving Azoff sees Azoff join the raconteur and former Dire Straits manager to discuss his remarkable career in music, from managing Eagles and Jon Bon Jovi to running Ticketmaster and being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Given the unprecedented circumstances, next year’s ‘Virtually Live’ ILMC will be opening its doors to non-members for the first time, allowing a wider range of live music professionals to attend.
“It’s important that the whole business is able to come together at such a pivotal time for the industry’s recovery,” explains ILMC head Greg Parmley. “With that in mind, we’ve decided to open up ILMC to the wider live music family for the first time, ensuring as many delegates are possible are able to exchange ideas and benefit from each other’s expertise.”
“It’s important that the whole business is able to come together at such a pivotal time for the industry’s recovery”
ILMC 33 also includes a fully online version of the Arthur Awards, the live music industry’s Oscar equivalents, which feature several new award categories – including Unsung Heroes and Tour of the Decade, which will be voted for live on the night. The ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) and Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) will both precede ILMC on Tuesday 2 March.
Confirmed speakers for ILMC 2021 already include Tim Leiweke (Oak View Group), Bob Lefsetz (Lefsetz Letter), Emma Banks (CAA), Sam Kirby Yoh (UTA), Tony Goldring (WME), Tom Windish (Paradigm) and Phil Bowdery (Live Nation). The first conference sessions will be announced in the coming days.
In addition to three days of conference sessions, the digital ILMC platform will feature hosted networking lounges, speed meetings and virtual exhibition spaces, while a schedule of nighttime events also includes a series of livestream showcases from emerging artists.
Last year’s conference programme included keynotes from Peter Rudge and team Mumford & Sons, and guest speaker slots from executives including David Zedeck (UTA), Phil Rodriguez (Move Concerts), Roberta Medina (Rock in Rio), Ashish Hemrajani (BookMyShow), Detlef Kornett (DEAG), Maria May (CAA), Scott Mantell (ICM Partners) and Jim King (AEG Presents). The full 2021 agenda will be published in January.
Companies supporting ILMC 33 include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, CTS Eventim, Showsec and Tysers.
For more information, visit the new ILMC website, which invites the industry’s top gamers, avatars and cyberpunks to join us in the conference mainframe from 3 to 5 March 2021.
Major US music orgs write to Congress for Covid aid
The Recording Academy, the Recording Industry Association of America and Music Managers Forum US are among the US organisations that have written to Congress to ask for additional support to “avoid a level of loss that that could devastate everyone in the music industry for a generation”.
The letter reads: “There is no denying that Covid-19 has truly tested the nation, and it has had a devastating effect on our country’s music industry. The live music business – once a sign of a thriving community and a draw to our cultural and commercial centres – has gone tragically silent. The music community remains grateful for Congress’ bipartisan relief efforts earlier this year, but more must be done soon.”
In the letter, the organisations present six recommendations to Congress: renew and extend existing benefits that have proved indispensable; pass the Restart Act (Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery), which is currently stalled; fix the Cares Act by passing the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Act.
The signatories have also urged Congress to: expand the Saves Our Stages Act; expand employer retention tax credits and pass a 100% Cobra premium subsidy; and pass the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the Hits Act.
The letter concludes with: “Like many in 2020, our community has come together to speak with one voice to ensure that we all can enjoy better days in the future together. We hope that with your leadership, Congress, in the upcoming lame duck session, will take this clear opportunity to save American music, culture, and countless small businesses. Thank you for your consideration.”
Read the letter in full below.
24 November 2020
Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and Leader McCarthy,
There is no denying that Covid-19 has truly tested the nation, and it has had a devastating effect on our country’s music industry. The live music business – once a sign of a thriving community and a draw to our cultural and commercial centres – has gone tragically silent. The music community remains grateful for Congress’ bipartisan relief efforts earlier this year, but more must be done soon to avoid a level of loss that that could devastate artists, musicians, engineers, producers, venues, and everyone in the music industry for a generation.
First, Congress must renew and extend existing benefits that have proved indispensable, including the weekly funding provided through Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Congress must also act to pass the Restart Act, to build on the short-term relief provided by the Paycheck Protection Program.
Second, Congress must fix an unintended error in the Cares Act by passing the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Act. Mixed earners, or gig workers with a minimum amount of W-2 income, have been excluded from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and overly burdensome PUA documentation requirements are out of step with the workplace realities of the gig economy.
Third, with no clear direction on when safe public gatherings may resume, Congress must expand the current form of the Save Our Stages Act and pass it to provide sufficient assistance for small venues and multi-use publicly owned venues. 77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their incomes, including 97% of 1099 workers. These people work at venues of all sizes and in a variety of capacities – whether it be full-time, part-time, or on the side as a gig worker. With uncertainty surrounding the resumption of live events, most of these workers are still struggling to make ends meet.
Providing direct financial relief to the workers of all venues is critical to keeping local communities afloat. Indeed, dollars spent to keep venues open have a multiplier effect, as live music brings patrons to hotels, restaurants, and other small businesses that are also struggling to survive. Expanding Save Our Stages to include all different types of live events workers – and not excluding them simply for where they work – will help revitalize our economy at the ground level.
Fourth, Congress must do more to ensure workers can keep their job-based healthcare plans during this pandemic. We believe Congress should expand employer retention tax credits and pass a 100% Cobra premium subsidy to ensure that job disruptions through no fault of their own don’t cost Americans their health as well as their livelihoods.
Finally, Congress must ensure that tax relief reaches musicians and workers in the performing arts by passing the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act and the HITS Act.
Like many in 2020, our community has come together to speak with one voice to ensure that we all can enjoy better days in the future together. We hope that with your leadership, Congress, in the upcoming lame duck session, will take this clear opportunity to save American music, culture, and countless small businesses. Thank you for your consideration.
Signed: Academy of Country Music; Artist Rights Alliance; Broadcast Music, Inc; Christian Music Trade Association; Church Music Publishers Association Action Fund; Country Music Association; Gospel Music Association; Music Artists Coalition; Music Managers Forum – US; National Music Publishers Association; Production Music Association; Recording Academy; Recording Industry Association of America; SESAC; Society of Composers & Lyricists; Songwriters of North America; SoundExchange; Southern Gospel Music Guild; The American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers; The Living Legends Foundation, Inc; The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Inc.
Salt Wave presents Salt Wave Sessions
Poland’s Salt Wave festival has released the first Salt Wave Sessions, a series of short concerts recorded live during summer 2020.
Like nearly all other European festivals, Salt Wave, promoted by Poznań-based Good Taste Production, was forced to call off its 2020 edition as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The second edition of Salt Wave would have taken place this August in the resort town of Jastarnia, on the Hel Peninsula on Poland’s Baltic coast.
“Unable to organise the second edition of Salt Wave Festival, and terribly itching to spend time on the Hel coast, we decided to capture few mini-concerts on the water, which we would broadcast when the summer had passed,” explains Good Taste’s Sara Maria Kordek on the genesis of Salt Wave Sessions. “Now, we proudly hand over to you effects of our summer work in this very strange year.”
The first Salt Wave Sessions videos, which can be viewed on Salt Wave’s YouTube channel, feature Polish electro-pop trio Kamp!.
Salt Wave will return on 20 and 21 August 2021.
UK live calls for exemption from new restrictions
The UK live music industry is calling for an exemption from a ban on selling alcohol without food under the tougher tier system announced today. The new rules will replace the national lockdown that expires on 2 December.
British prime minister Boris Johnson today announced that while the UK’s current lockdown will be lifted at the beginning of December, a stricter version of the three-tier system that operated in England before the lockdown began will be introduced.
Under tier 2 restrictions, which will most likely affect the majority of the UK, 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.
Also in tier 2, and in news that will impact on all live music venues, though grassroots venues in particular, only venues that operate as a restaurant, serving substantial meals, will be permitted to serve alcohol (last orders will now be at 10 pm, with one hour to finish drinks).
Under tier 3 all hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, including indoor entertainment venues. The PM will announce which areas will fall into which tier later this week.
“The consumption of food and the consumption of culture could, and should, be treated equally”
“It is to be welcomed that the government’s intention is that live music can resume where it can be safely delivered,” says Mark Dayvd, CEO at Music Venue Trust.
“The government can deliver on this ambition by correctly identifying the purchase of a ticket as having equivalent intention by the consumer to the purchase of a meal. The consumption of food and the consumption of culture as the main purpose of an individual’s behaviour could, and should, be treated equally.
“Failure to reach equivalency between food and culture on this issue results in a distorted market where an individual can choose to attend a restaurant, consuming as much alcohol as they wish, prior to a gig, but upon arrival at the event cannot consume any alcohol at all.
“We believe consistency within the restrictions is the most likely route by which the public will understand and comply with them. We therefore strongly encourage the government to think again on the specifics of tier 2 restrictions in relation to ticketed cultural events.”
“By removing alcohol sales, any notion of [venues] being able to operate profitably now evaporates”
Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, says: “The prime minister’s announcement today is a huge blow for the live music industry. It’s enormously disappointing that venues which have worked hard to operate safely under the existing guidelines, are now subject to additional, arbitrary restrictions on audience numbers.
“And by removing alcohol sales on top, any notion of being able to operate profitably now evaporates. We need an urgent exemption from this new rule for ticketed events, including grassroots venues.”
Greg Parmley, chief executive of LIVE, the trade body for the live music industry says: “It is hugely disappointing that the new tier system could lead to the closure of hundreds of small music venues up and down the country.
“More than 90% of small music venues cannot serve substantial meals and therefore would be classed as being the same as a ‘wet pub’ and closed under tier 2 of the new system, despite people primarily being there to enjoy the music. We call on the government to make an exemption from those restrictions for ticketed artistic and cultural events in music venues in order to save them from closure at this crucial time.”
“The new tier system could lead to the closure of hundreds of small music venues”
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NITA), says: “The industry has been left angry and frustrated by the new restrictions set out by the prime minister today. This shows a complete lack of consideration and understanding of our sector.
“This will have a catastrophic impact on thousands of businesses and jobs across the sector by the end of the year. For many business owners this is beyond ignorance. This is tantamount to systematically culling our industry with intent.
“The government has simply got this wrong. It is an appalling misjudgement. Our sector has worked incredibly hard alongside government departments, to ensure that our businesses are ‘Covid Safe’, only to be hit again with unworkable restrictions that have no evidence base.
“We are being condemned to an excruciating financial hardship, until the government can rally around a workable vaccine solution. The support from furlough is welcome. However, sadly many of these businesses will not survive to retain their staff and will suffer from a continuation of current extreme problems around cash fluidity, commercial rent debt and exit strategy.
“We can’t help but feel that our industry is being sacrificed for other sectors to open during the festive period.”
Catalonia permits 500-cap. concerts
After eight months of closure, Catalonian venues are now permitted to reopen at 50% capacity with a maximum of 500 patrons.
The reopening comes as the autonomous community enters phase one of a rollback of restrictions, “despite living at a time of very high epidemiological risk”.
The curfew from 10 pm till 6 am will remain in place, though the Catalan Federation of Associations of Restoration and Musical Activities has asked the government to extend it to 1 am on weekends and at least until 2 am on New Year’s Eve.
The federation has also asked that the government reconsiders the restrictions for discos and nightclubs, which are still not permitted to reopen.
Catalonia’s plan for the reopening of activities includes four phases. If the infection rate allows, phase two will take effect from 7 December, phase three from 21 December and phase four from 4 January.
Discos and nightclubs are still not permitted to reopen
Phase two will permit concert halls to operate at 70% capacity but still with a maximum of 500 patrons – a restriction which will not change until after phase four.
Carmen Zapata, manager at The Association of Concert Halls of Catalonia (ASACC), told Catalan news agency ACN that the measure is “on the right track” and will have a positive “psychological” effect for dozens of venues that have been closed for many months.
However, according to Zapata, after surveying its 85 associates, the rooms that they plan to open from this Monday do not exceed 50%. In Barcelona, he has specified, they will only open between 18 and 20.
Earlier this month the Catalonian government announced its first support package for the culture sector, totalling €8.4 million, to benefit companies, performers and live event technicians.
The package contains two lines of subsidies; the first will offer compensation for the operating costs of companies and cultural organisations affected by the pandemic and the second will compensate Catalonian artists who were hired for concerts or festivals, inside or outside the autonomous community, but ultimately could not perform due to cancellations.
Midnight Mango aims to raise 10k for booking agents
International live booking agency Midnight Mango is aiming to fund work opportunities for booking agents through the sales of a new crowdfunded compilation album.
The agency is aiming to raise up to £10,000 for agents who are not receiving any income due to the current lack of shows via donations from a 10-track vinyl which includes UK acts such as The Dead South and Amy Montgomery.
The company’s managing director, Matt Bartlett says that the booking agents who help to make the live music scene happen are bearing the brunt of the shutdown.
“There’s still a lot of work for booking agents at the moment, what with booking shows for the future and rescheduling events but at the same time there’s zero money coming in to pay the bills,” says Bartlett.
“There’s still a lot of work for booking agents at the moment but at the same time there’s zero money coming in”
The statement on the fundraising page notes that: “All the government schemes to date require workers to stop working to claim. This doesn’t work for agents – the work they do now creates revenue 6–12 months in the future. They need to keep working.”
Bartlett says the agency will seek to address the “acute cashflow crisis” by employing booking agents on a freelance basis (funded by album sales) that will allow them to keep working until the situation improves.
The crowdfunder has already raised over £3,000 in donations from the sale of the compilation album – titled Lockdown Songs – as well as other ‘rewards’. Midnight Mango has pledged to match every pound up to the £5,000 target, bringing the total target to £10,000.
The agency’s other charitable pursuits include raising lottery grant funding through Arts Council England to present socially distanced shows at grassroots venue, Bath Komedia – providing paid work for artists, crew, promoters, venues and other professionals.
You can donate to the Midnight Mango Lockdown Fund for live music booking agents here.