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Live Nation, AEG report UK gender pay gap stats

Several UK-based live music businesses have voluntarily reported their most recent gender pay gap (GPG) statistics.

Despite the government ruling early into the Covid-19 pandemic that companies do not have to meet the deadline this year, Live Nation UK, AEG Europe and Ticketmaster UK have shared their pay gap data for the 12 months from 5 April 2019.

From 2017, all companies in mainland Britain with more than 250 employees have been required to report their GPG – defined as the “difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce” – for the previous year to the government equalities office.

However, with that requirement on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of the companies which appeared on last year’s list, including SMG/ASM Global, Academy Music Group, NEC Group, DHP Family and PRS for Music, have not reported their statistics this year. Global, meanwhile, is no longer in the festival game, and its successor entities do not hire more than 250 people.

This article will be updated if any of the companies that are missing add their GPG reports at a later date. For now, though, here are pay gap statistics – as well as links to the full reports – for the four companies which voluntarily met the original deadline…

 


Live Nation (Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 44.5% (-44.3%)
Pay gap (median): 25.7% (+11.7%)

Live Nation UK slashed its mean pay gap (the difference in average hourly wage across the entire company) to 44.5% in 2019–2020 – the lowest figure since GPG reporting began in the UK in 2017. However, its median GPG (the gap between the middle-paid man and middle-paid woman) grew slightly.

Women occupy 36% of the highest-paid jobs and 72% of the lowest-paid jobs, while median bonus pay is 41.2% lower for women.

 

Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 25.9% (-41.1%)
Pay gap (median): 28.9% (+25.7%)

At Ticketmaster, it’s a similar picture to parent company Live Nation, with a drastic reduction in the mean GPG but a slight widening of the median gap. At 25.9%, the pay gap across the entire organisation is also the narrowest it’s ever been.

Women occupy 21% of the highest-paid and 43% of the lowest-paid jobs; on average, women’s bonus pay is 32% lower than men’s (on a median basis).

 

AEG (Anschutz Sports Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 34.5% (-20.9%)
Pay gap (median): 39% (+6%)

In the most recent 12-month epriod, AEG Europe had a mean pay gap of 34.5% (down 20.9% on 2018’s 43.6%), meaning the UK’s big two live entertainment companies both reported their lowest average GPGs since reporting began.

At AEG UK, women occupy 34% of the best-paid jobs and 59% of the lowest-paid jobs, while women’s median bonuses are 15.6% lower.

 

PPL PRS (PPL PRS Limited)

Pay gap (mean): -9.6%
Pay gap (median): -16.8%

Performance rights organisation PPL PRS Ltd, a joint venture between PRS for Music and PPL, had a negative gender pay gap – or a GPG in favour of women – in 2019/20.

Women occupy 49.1% of the highest-paid jobs and 27.3% of the lowest-paid, while a bonus gap of 0% means men and women take home the same average bonus pay.

 


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#LetTheMusicPlay: UK biz mobilises to call for aid

The leading lights of Britain’s live music industry – including some of its biggest touring talent – have today (2 July) issued an urgent plea for government aid to the sector, warning that a lack of support and continued uncertainty around reopening is having a “devastating” impact in one of the world’s biggest live music markets.

The appeal is centred on a letter to the UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, signed by 1,500 artists and bands, including Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones, Dua Lipa, Sir Paul McCartney, Skepta, Rita Ora, Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Sir Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher, Florence and the Machine, Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Lewis Capaldi and Little Mix.

In the joint letter, the artists say: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.

“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”

New research shows the live music sector added £4.5 billion to Britain’s economy in 2019, and supports 210,000 jobs. While the UK is the fourth-largest music market in the world by value of ticket sales – and the second-biggest per capita – the appeal notes that state support for live music lags behind other countries, with other European governments such as France and Germany using public money to kickstart their concert industries post-Covid-19.

“Government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry”

To coincide with the letter, hundreds of artists will today begin posting films and photos of their last live show using the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay. Fans will also be encouraged to post about the last gig they went to, in a mass show of support for the UK’s on-pause live business.

“It’s incredibly important for artists like myself to speak up and support the live music industry in the UK,” says Dua Lipa. “From the very start, playing live concerts up and down the country has been a cornerstone for my own career. I am proud to have had the chance to play through all the levels: small clubs, then theatres and ballrooms, and into arenas, and, of course, festivals in between each touring cycle.

“But the possibility for other emerging British artists to take the same path is in danger if the industry doesn’t receive much-needed government support in the interim period before all the various venues, festivals and promoters are ready and able to operate independently again.”

The UK live music industry is asking for:

The business and employment support package should include, they say, a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead; an extension of the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed to prevent mass redundancies; rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen; an extension of business-rate relief to the entire live music supply chain; rolling over fees for single-premises event licences for festivals; and financial support for lost box-office income.

“Every day, literally, I hear of another friend in music losing their job, shutting up shop or switching careers. This pandemic has affected everyone; it has taken many lives and forever changed many more,” says Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and Venue Group. “Live entertainment has not been the headline, nor do I believe it should’ve been – at least until now.

“We really have to pay some attention to what our cultural landscape is going to look like on the other side of this, and we’re hoping that #LetTheMusicPlay will pull some of this into focus for a minute.”

“If the government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever”

Other artists to have signed the letter to Dowden include Take That, the Stone Roses, Foals, James Bay, Genesis, the Chemical Brothers, Johnny Marr, Slade, Biffy Clyro, Bastille, Muse, Sir Tom Jones and Manic Street Preachers.

“The UK’s venues, festivals, performers and crew bring so much to this country’s culture and economy, but they are now facing desperate financial challenges,” says Emily Eavis, organiser of Glastonbury Festival. “If the government doesn’t step up and support the British arts, we really could lose vital aspects of our culture forever.”

“July would normally see the UK embarking on a world-famous summer of live music, but this year the lights are switched off and the microphones unplugged,” adds Phil Bowdery, chairman of the Concert Promoters’ Association. “Live music has sought to play its role in helping tackle coronavirus, with many artists providing entertainment for people from their homes. But our shutdown is likely to go on for much longer than most, with many concerts and festivals unable to operate until 2021 at the earliest.

“Without rapid government support, the long-term impact will be devastating, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled jobs and billions of pounds from the UK economy.”

 


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Elton John records biggest tour in Covid-hit H1 2020

With gross earnings of nearly US$90 million, Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road was the biggest tour globally in the first half of 2020 according to the latest Pollstar box-office numbers.

The site’s mid-year Top 100 Worldwide Tours shows Sir Elton had grossed $87.1m from 38 shows, with a total of 664,749 tickets sold, when concert touring ground to a pandemic-induced halt in March. (The ‘mid-year’ reporting period runs from 21 November 2019 to 20 May 2020, though the final show of John’s only 2020 touring period, at Western Sydney Stadium in Australia, took place months before, on 7 March.)

Sir Elton’s AEG-promoted success down under outshone his nearest competition to the tune of $16m, Celine Dion placing second with Courage world tour, which played arenas in North America from September to March. Another AEG tour, Courage grossed $71.2m from 33 shows, with 408,407 tickets sold.

Third and fourth, and the only other artists grossing more than $50m, were Trans-Siberian Orchestra and U2, respectively, while fifth-placed Post Malone recorded $38.8m from 22 dates.

Live Nation, unsurprisingly, retains its crown as the number-one promoter; Madrid’s WizInk Center is a new entry for top arena, having sold 30,000 more tickets than second-placed Madison Square Garden.

 


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Canadian hotels host first govt-approved concerts

Hotels are serving as the stage for live music’s return in Canada, as venue and event management software company Showpass and booking agency Livestar Entertainment team up to host shows in hotel pools and courtyards across the country.

The Hotels Live concert series – billed as the first government-sanctioned live music events to take place in the country since the Covid-19 shutdown – launched on Monday (29 June) in the city of Calgary, with a series of shows set to take place at the pool deck stage at the Ramada Plaza Downtown hotel this month.

Tickets for the concerts, which feature acts the Hip Experience, Garth Brooks tribute Fresh Horses and Pink Floyd tribute Pink 4reud, start from CA$75 (€49), with the hotel room included.

All rooms have balconies overlooking the stage, acting as guests’ private box suites. Food and drink packages may also be included for an additional price.

“We know this hotel balcony series will be our first of many to come”

The hospitality and entertainment industries have similarly joined forces in Sweden, where promoter Jubel is hosting concerts as part of weekend getaways, and the Netherlands, where EDM promoter ID&T is trying its hand at organising camping holidays.

“Hotels Live is proud to collaborate with Showpass to bring live music back to the world. By providing a truly exclusive entertainment experience, we know this hotel balcony series will be our first of many to come,” says Rob Cyrynowski of Livestar Entertainment Canada/Hotels Live.

“The goal of this project is to get as many folks in the music industry – from musicians and crew members, to agents and promoters – back to doing what they love and most importantly, getting paid to do it,” adds Showpass CEO Lucas McCarthy.

Showpass and Livestar plan to announce more Hotels Live concert dates across North America in due course, partnering with hotels, festival and venue operators, promoters and agencies to bring more shows to fruition.

More information on working with one of the Showpass hotel partners to host an event, can be found here.

 


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Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, the world’s largest producer of contemporary circus and other touring entertainment shows, has filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada after more than three months of “zero revenues” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil announced yesterday (29 June) it has applied to restructure its business under Canada’s CCCA (Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act – a process that shields it from creditors, similar to administration in the UK or chapter-11 bankruptcy in the US). Its application will heard today by the Superior Court of Quebec.

The announcement follows a particularly torrid quarter for Cirque, which announced thousands of temporary lay-offs in the early days of the pandemic.

Cirque says it has entered into a court-supervised purchase agreement with shareholders, including Texas-based TPG Capital and China’s Fosun Capital Group, to establish two funds, worth US$20 million, to provide relief to laid-off employees and contractors. (Some 3,480 of the more than 4,500 employees furloughed in March are expected to lose their jobs permanently.)

The ‘sponsors’, which also include state-owned investment company Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund (CDPQ), will additionally inject $300m worth of liquidity in order to restart the restructured business.

“I look forward to rebuilding our operations and coming together once again”

“For the past 36 years, Cirque du Soleil has been a highly successful and profitable organisation. However, with zero revenues since the forced closure of all of our shows due to Covid-19, management had to act decisively to protect the company’s future,” comments Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.

Subject to the Superior Court’s approval, the sponsors will also serve as the “stalking horse”, or reserve bidders, in a sale and investment solicitation process (‘SISP’) of Cirque’s assets.

“The purchase agreement and SISP provide a path for Cirque to emerge from CCAA protection as a stronger company. The robust commitment from the sponsors – which includes additional funds to support our impacted employees, contractors and critical partners, all of whom are important to Cirque’s return – reflects our mutual belief in the power and long-term potential of our brand,” continues Lamarre.

“I look forward to rebuilding our operations and coming together to once again create the magical spectacle that is Cirque du Soleil for our millions of fans worldwide.”

 


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1/3 of Italians book tickets for post-corona shows

In news that bodes well for the immediate future of the Italian live industry, nearly a third of live music fans have already bought, or are planning to buy, tickets for their first post-lockdown concerts, new research suggests.

Dopo l’Intervallo (After the Interval), based on the results of a survey of over 32,000 Italian eventgoers between 27 May and 19 June, reveals that 30.5% of respondents are actively seeking to buy tickets for shows – nearly double the number in the UK (17%), where the first After the Interval survey was conducted on 16 April–6 May.

“Italy is considered to be 2–4 weeks ahead of the UK in their experience of Covid-19. Could these results give us an idea of how our cultural audiences might be feeling in 6–8 weeks?” asks Indigo, the consultancy behind both surveys.

Italy’s concert scene reopened for business earlier this month, with phase three of the easing of lockdown seeing indoor shows of up to 200 people and outdoor events of up to 1,000 people allowed from 15 June. Some 90% of bars and restaurants are now open, though the live industry continues to wait for news on major gatherings such as large concerts and festivals.

“[Italians] consider it an integral part of their culture … to participate in music events and live shows”

The Italian version of After the Interval – produced by Indigo for Teatro Stabile del FVG, with input from live music associations such as Assomusica and KeepOn Live – additionally reveals a huge 96% of Italian respondents said they have missed live events during the Covid-19 pandemic (73% of them “a lot”), and that nearly a quarter (23%) would return to an event “as soon as venues reopen”.

However, of the 30.5% of those who are actively booking tickets, around half of them are booking for events after November 2020, indicating there will likely not be a full-scale recovery until 2021.

Vincenzo Spera, president of promoters’ association Assomusica, says the survey results are testament to the importance the Italian public places on live events. “We can take comfort and confidence”, he explains, in the fact Italian audiences consider it an “integral part of their culture […] to participate in music events and live shows.”

Italy is the world’s sixth-largest music market, with US$635m in ticket sales in 2019, according to PwC.

 


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Björk to perform to live audience in August

Björk is performing a series of shows across three consecutive weekends in August in her home country of Iceland, to celebrate the start of the country’s post-coronavirus reopening.

The shows, which are organised in conjunction with showcase festival Iceland Airwaves, will see the singer perform at Reykjavík’s 1,800-capacity Harpa Hall on 9, 15 and 23 August. The performances will be some of the first from a major artist in front of a live audience since the coronavirus shutdown.

“Dear friends, I would like to invite you to some concerts,” reads a statement from Björk. “We are going to celebrate that we are all healthily exiting quarantine together.”

Björk also states the concerts aim to honour “folks who got hit hardest [by] the coronavirus and the black lives matter movement”, as well as acting as a celebration of the Icelandic musicians that Björk has worked with over the years.

“We are going to celebrate that we are all healthily exiting quarantine together”

Each concert will showcase new instrumental arrangements of scores from Björk’s back catalogue. Björk will perform alongside the Hamrahlid Choir on 9 August and will be accompanied by the Icelandic symphony orchestra on the other two dates.

The concerts will also be streamed live online, where there will an option to donate to women’s shelter Kvennaathvarfid. For those attending in person, money raised from food and drink sales will go to the shelter.

Björk had been set to perform special orchestral shows at Moscow’s Crocus Music Hall and Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena this summer, as well as at festivals Waldbühne Open Air in Germany, Siene Musicale in France and Bluedot festival in the UK, before the pandemic put a halt on global touring.

Tickets for the Harpa Hall shows are available for pre-order on 2 July at 10 a.m. GMT, with general sale commencing on 3 July. Tickets will be priced in five tiers, starting at ISK4,990 (€32).

Iceland Airwaves is taking place from 4 to 7 November in Reykjavík, featuring acts including Metronomy, Courtney Barrett, Black Pumas, Squid and Iceland’s Daði Freyr.

 


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Greece allows outdoor events to operate at 75% capacity

The Greek government announced yesterday (25 June) that it will allow seated, open-air events of up to 75% capacity to take place from 1 July.

It had previously been stated that open-air events would be permitted to restart from 15 July, at only 40% capacity.

Under the new guidelines, one seat should be kept free between different parties, with group bookings of up to four people permitted.

A distance of three metres must be maintained between the performer and the first row of spectators, with one-and-a-half metres kept between individual performers.

When entering and exiting the venue, or purchasing food and drink, a distance of one-and-a-half metres must also be maintained between individuals.

The Greek government announced yesterday that it will allow seated, open-air events of up to 75% capacity to take place from 1 July

Hygiene measures such as frequent disinfecting of communal spaces and surfaces, and the use of gloves and masks, will also be in place.

It remains unclear when standing events will be allowed to resume.

Entertainment and sports venues were permitted to reopen at the beginning of June in Greece, but the country’s prime minster Kyriakos Mitsotakis had previously said that summer festivals and concerts were unlikely to take place.

However, with easing happening more quickly, it appears this may not be the case. Greek promoter Xlalala recently announced plans for upcoming festivals in Athens and Thessaloniki, due to take place at the end of July and start of August.

Photo: European People’s Party/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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New event formats emerge as Swedish cap. limit sticks

Jubel, an independent live events company in Sweden, has found novel ways to host shows during the coronavirus crisis, as a strict 50-person capacity limit looks set to stay in place for the near future.

Sweden has taken a different approach to many others in its handling the coronavirus pandemic, neither implementing a full lockdown or a blanket event ban. However, many promoters have reported similar struggles to elsewhere, as stringent capacity limits have been in force since mid-March.

Recent Midsummer celebrations, which centre around the summer solstice – this year on 20 June – were scaled back from the usual big group gatherings to more intimate events and livestreamed musical performances, dances, workshops and cooking tutorials.

Independent, Stockholm-based company Jubel is among those to have come up with a range of initiatives to keep live shows going while adhering to the restrictions.

Jubel is launching its Republic of Woodland event series this weekend, which combines live music with a weekend getaway. Tickets to Republic of Woodland, which is held in a secret location in the Stockholm archipelago, include accommodation, food, drink, live entertainment, outdoor activities and “surprises” over one night and two days. Tickets start from SEK3995 (€382) per person.

“Unlike other countries that are slowly easing their public gathering restrictions, in Sweden the policy remains strict”

The company is also running its own virtual music festival, Låt Live Leva, which started on 21 March. Streamed live via Twitch and YouTube, the Låt Live Leva performances take place in hotel lobbies. Fans can book rooms in the hotel to get closer to the action and order food and drink via room service.

Seven Låt Live Leva concerts have taken place so far, with seven more planned for the summer. The concert series has reached 250,000 unique viewers across digital platforms.

Jubel’s own livestreaming platform, Dramatix, developed in conjunction with Oakwood web agency, acts as a virtual venue for artists, enabling artists to set up ticketed events and sell merchandise.

“Unlike other countries that are slowly easing their public gathering restrictions, that has allowed them to try certain formats such as socially distanced shows and drive-in concerts, in Sweden the policy remains strict,” explains a Jubel spokesperson.

“As a company this has not discouraged us, we are seeing opportunities in the crisis and we have come with interesting formats that had not only prove to be successful but also set a precedent for the industry.”

Photo: Folkbildarn/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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Beyond Rhetoric: BAME execs on boosting diversity in live

The latest IQ Focus virtual panel, Beyond Rhetoric: Race in Live Musiclooked at the lack of racial diversity in the live music business, as well as practical steps the industry can take to begin turning the tide.

Hosted by Live Nation International diversity lead David Carrigan, the session welcomed UK Music’s Ammo Talwar, Metropolis Music promoter Kiarn Eslami, ICM agent Yves Pierre, ATC Management’s Sumit Bothra and Earth Agency’s Lucy Atkinson to discuss the overwhelming whiteness of the concert industry, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter and #TheShowMustBePaused campaigns for racial equality.

Talwar, who leads UK Music’s diversity and equality taskforce, said that while the industry’s front-facing components are hugely diverse, its workforce is not.

In London, for example, over 40% of the population are non-white, he said, compared to around 18% in the UK music industry. At the executive level, he added, companies are still overwhelmingly staffed by “middle-aged, white heterosexual males”.

Comparing her own path into the business, Atkinson said she speaks to a lot of white men “who say they just kind of fell into this job, and that hasn’t been my experience at all. Even now, I still feel like I have to fight to get taken seriously as an agent.”

“A lot of conversations get really overcomplicated, but there are some very simple things you can do”

On the artist side, Pierre pointed out that lot of artists aren’t allowed to “live” in traditionally white spaces – they have to start in a black/“urban” genre and then go pop or rock when they are already established. “We have to acknowledge that these artists exist and that there’s space for them,” she said.

Looking at practical measures to promote a more representative industry, Atkinson said: “A lot of conversations get really overcomplicated, but there are some very simple things you can do”: for example, the ‘Rooney rule’ in the NFL that requires at least one ethnic-minority candidate be interviewed for a job.

Speaking from a promoter’s point of view, Eslami described another simple change he has made on his shows – which, while not costing his employer any more, allows for greater investment in ethnic minority run businesses. “Every show we have has a budget, and one of those costs is catering,” he explained. “[I asked] why do we spend all our budget in supermarkets, when there are so many other caterers our there?

“It’s about looking at how we change the cash flow for these shows, whether it’s in catering, marketing or elsewhere.”

Pierre said it’s up to everyone in the industry to hold their own employers accountable when it comes to employing a diverse workforce.

“Accountability is up to everyone in that organisation. We have to make sure that the companies we’re working for live up to those standards when it comes to racial diversity and gender equality,” she explained. “A lot of the time nothing gets done because you think someone else is doing it.

“Accountability is up to everyone in that organisation”

“If I want to see the change, I have to be part of that change. I have to hold my colleagues, and my bosses and partners, accountable.”

“It’s time to do things differently,” agreed Eslami. “People often think, ‘If something’s not broken, why fix it?’, but we’ve all had a three-month time out and realised that now is the time to think about how we can do things differently in future.”

Bothra said ATC is looking at changes it can make to hiring processes to promote greater diversity.  “For us as a management company, for example, we have to be aware that it’s incumbent on us to look in new places to find people,” he explained. “We can’t just go to the same recruitment agency, the same school, and do the usual thing, because that’s not going to make any difference at all.”

“The professionals are out there,” added Talwar. “We’re just not looking in the right places.”

“There are tons of kids who don’t know that an agent exists, or that there’s a management position, or a social media aspect of this,” said Pierre, emphasising the importance of getting the word out about the live industry to underrepresented groups.

“I think we have to expose people to these things, so they can understand there’s a whole workforce behind these artists and something for them to do beyond just being an artist or a producer or writer.”

“The professionals are out there. We’re just not looking in the right places”

“Before I started at Metropolis I didn’t even know a promoter was a job,” added Eslami. His advice, he said, is that “it doesn’t take long” to offer advice and mentorship to young people from disadvantaged groups. “There are 365 days in a year, and if you spare one or two” of them you can really make a difference, he said.

While the current zeitgeist feels like a “watershed moment” for diversity, real change needs to be about more than words – it’s got to be a “root-and-branch approach” that tackles “systemic” issues, said Talwar.

He added that he’s “just as interested in the block in the middle” – the one that stops industry professionals of colour attaining leadership positions – as the one that stops ethnic minorities getting into live music in the first place. “Where are the next CEOs, the next chairmen?” he asked.

Carrigan concluded by saying the conversation had been “a long time coming” and expressed his wish that debate will go on in future. “These conversations about race in the live music industry are not common, which illustrates the need to continue the conversation,” he explained.

Given the importance of the conversation continuing, future IQ Focus panels will revisit the topic in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, you can watch back yesterday’s session on YouTube or Facebook now.


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