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Sportpaleis plans non-stop 24-hour livestream concert

Antwerp Sportpaleis is organising a 24-hour non-stop livestream concert to mark exactly one year since concert halls closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

More than 100 Belgian artists, across all genres, will perform original and cover songs in the empty 18,400-seat arena to show that they are ‘ready to storm stages again’.

The ’24 Hours Live’ event, co-produced by Les Flamands, Sportpaleis Group and Live Nation, will kick off at 6 pm on 12 March and will be streamed in its entirety via hln.be.

Miguel Wiels is part of talent and production agency Les Flamands and one of the artists who will perform on the night: “After a year, the jitters can no longer be kept. Everyone in the industry wants to make music, well, we’re going to do that with my band.

“We have a setlist of more than 400 songs available”

“It’s heartwarming how many artists have voluntarily agreed to play with us. We have a setlist of more than 400 songs available. It’s going to be a long marathon and we probably won’t have enough of it after 24 hours. On the contrary: it is an advance when we will also be able to stand in front of a live audience. That moment is getting closer, we have every confidence in it. This stunt is a good dress rehearsal for that.”

Prime minister Jan Jambon, says: “We have had the most disastrous year in the history of our culture and events sector. I am very happy to contribute to 24 Hours Live. Because that’s what we have to do: let the music go on, no matter how difficult the circumstances. I hope that we will soon be able to resume our normal life.”

Sportpaleis recently raised €50,000 for Belgium’s live music industry through its Lights for Live fundraising initiative.

 


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Roqu CEO details health passport innovation

In summer 2020, Ireland-based Roqu Group launched Health Passport Worldwide (HPW), a secure platform that combines mobile technologies with official Covid-19 tests and vaccinations.

The technology has been engineered specifically to ‘help curtail the spread of Covid-19’ and is enabling the safe reopening of events, travel and sports in nine countries worldwide.

Now, Robert Quirke, president and CEO at Roqu, tells IQ how HPW is now working alongside leading international events producers, live music organisations and ticketing companies to create solutions that will reopen events this summer.

 


IQ: Who is able to use HPW?
RQ: The app is free to be used by the public and also by official healthcare providers. The system is multilingual. Depending on the model of the smartphone, font sizes can be increased and text-to-speech can be enabled. The overall technology platform is being used by event producers, the travel industry, pharmacies and many more. The dependents feature means that people with disabilities can make full use of the tech if they wish.

In which countries has HPW established a presence?
The technology is actively being used in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa, Canada, Bulgaria, Kenya, Nigeria and Ibiza.

Where has it been trialled so far?
Extensive system trials have already been performed in Ireland, the UK and South Africa at healthcare centres, pharmacies, nursing homes for staff vaccinations, schools (staff), offices and more. In December of last year, the system was successfully used at the trial live music event in Cape Town called Recharge2020, working alongside Ticketmaster, the city and local production companies.

“The system was successfully used at the trial live music event in Cape Town called Recharge2020, working alongside Ticketmaster”

Has HPW received the stamp of approval from any governments?
The organisation focuses on successful industry adoption across various sectors. Our approach is to not wait, but rather to immediately support industries that urgently need solutions. The technology is being closely observed by many governments with a view to supporting their vaccines deployment initiatives.

The digital passport market is becoming increasingly saturated. How does your product stand out?
This is not a concept, it is a living breathing solution, and has been since last summer. There is currently no other health passport solution that has achieved the level of support and adoption compared to HPW. Our solution is already being used by some of the world’s leading organisations. Every minute, someone somewhere in the world receives their Covid-19 test result safely via our technology.

How does the app keep users’ data secure and private?
The founders of the technology have put user privacy as a priority because unlike some other mobile technologies, the HPW app does not track people’s location, does not use Bluetooth, does not use GPS and does not monitor people’s usage of the system. Data is not shared with any third parties. This function does not even exist within the technology.

“The technology also integrates with public health systems, festivals, airports, test centres, event ticketing platforms”

Does the app work in harmony with existing healthcare and tech systems?
Yes, the system can integrate where necessary with labs, hospitals and existing public health platforms. A special function is included to support various doses of vaccinations. You can also book a test directly within the app, making everything as easy as possible for the user.

The technology also integrates with public health systems, festivals, airports, test centres, event ticketing platforms and more.

For what purposes do you see HPW being used?
Enabling efficiencies at testing and vaccination centres, international travel, major sporting and music events with very large crowds. This platform will absolutely not be used for everyday life, such as going out for dinner or to the pub!

How could HPW facilitate the return of live music?
The technology enables event producers to scan high volumes of people in a very short period of time, the same as scanning your event ticket at entry. The system gives guests and producers the reassurance that people entering the venue are at a very low or zero risk of transmitting Covid-19. The HPW team has extensive experience in testing and can support events not just with the technology, but also with the end-to-end efficient and safe process.

“The solution to safely test 65,000 people within eight hours is already being deployed into Europe”

Can HPW integrate with event ticketing platforms?
Yes, for example, an anonymous code could be shared. But the system will not share medical information or personal details.

Festivals admit tens of thousands of people over a relatively short amount of time. Is HPW capable of processing a high volume of testing onsite?
Yes, the solution to safely test 65,000 people within eight hours is already being deployed into Europe.

Will venues and festivals have to implement any kind of hardware in order to use HPW?
No

 


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New Swansea Arena appoints general manager

Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) has announced the appointment of Lisa Mart as general manager of its soon-to-open Swansea Arena.

Mart comes to Swansea Arena with nine years of experience at ATG, initially at New Wimbledon Theatre (1,670-cap.) in south-west London, where she was theatre director, and then at the Alexandra (1,347-cap.) in Birmingham, where she oversaw a £650,000 refurbishment and relaunch that completed in October 2018.

The 3,500-seat capacity indoor venue marks the first arena-sized project for ATG, best known as an operator of London West End theatres. The company is majority owned by Providence Equity Partners, and received an injection of funding from Australia’s TEG late last year.

The new arena, part of the £135 million Copr Bay urban regeneration project in Wales’s second-largest city, is expected to open later this year.

“I am incredibly pleased and excited to be starting as general manager of the Swansea Arena; to be given this huge and rare opportunity of not only opening a brand-new venue, but also being a part of the wider regeneration of Swansea and its transformational project of Copr Bay, is a real honour,” comments Mart.

“The arena has been beautifully designed and will really be able to provide the local community and visitors with a variety of spaces and options to fit any size and scale of meeting or event,” she adds. “I can’t wait to start talking to and working with businesses to really discover how best to support their needs in this area.

“The arena will help strengthen the city’s cultural and entertainment scene further”

“As soon as restrictions allow, I will be re-exploring Swansea and surrounding areas – I’m keen to meet as many people as possible to really learn of the expectations of residents, businesses and locals on how they hope to work with us as we maximise the local impact of this amazing arena.”

ATG is also recruiting for other senior arena roles, including a head of sales and marketing, a building and technical manager and a conference and events manager, which will open for applications in the coming weeks.

Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, comments: “We are delighted to welcome Lisa to Swansea’s thriving and buoyant cultural community.

“She brings skill and experience that will help the arena complement the programming of other great local cultural venues and locations, such as the Grand Theatre, Brangwyn Hall, Singleton Park and many others.

“The arena will help strengthen the city’s cultural and entertainment scene further for many thousands of residents and visitors. It will act as a catalyst for the city centre’s £1bn transformation.”

 


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Health experts draw up Germany reopening plan

Twenty scientists, health experts and doctors in Germany have created a set of guidelines to enable the gradual return of audiences to cultural and sporting events.

In a paper released on Monday, titled Schrittweise Rückkehr von Zuschauern und Gästen: Ein integrierter Ansatz für Kultur und Sport (Gradual return of spectators and guests: An integrated return to culture and sport), specialists in infectious diseases, virology, ventilation, health economics, sports medicine, culture and law present various models for both and indoor and outdoor events to allow them to reopen safely. Each is based on a basic concept but can be expanded to gradually increase the number of guests per event.

This basic concept, described as stage one in a ‘three-stage plan’ (Drei-Stufen-Plan), is based on an indoor capacity of 25–30% (up to 40% if outdoors), with mandatory face masks and and no food or beverage sales indoors (outside, there should be no F&B sales above 1,000 visitors). There should also be social distancing, achieved by leaving many seats empty.

These rules are the same for attendees, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Beyond the basic model, there are a number of ‘special individual concepts’ depending on the venue or event, with varying hygiene, ventilation and occupancy requirements.

At 100% capacity – the so-called ‘maximum model’ – the guidelines require, among other provisions, digital contact tracing for all attendees, along with mandatory coronavirus tests before entry.

“We need a perspective that gives us hope and incentive”

The concept is supported by a score of major German venues, including Mercedes-Benz Arena/Verti Music Hall in Berlin, Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Olympiapark Munich and Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig, as well as a number of other music and sports organisations, including the the governing bodies of German football, basketball, handball and volleyball.

“This initiative cannot be rated highly enough,” said Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s senator for culture, speaking after the launch of the paper. “We need a perspective that gives us hope and incentive so that we can get away from the appeals to persevere without any prospect of improvement.”

“As soon as it is possible to reopen” venues, “culture, sport and events must be included” in that, he added. (Some experts warn Germany is currently in the midst of a “third wave” of the coronavirus as new mutations spread.)

The head of the German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat), Olaf Zimmermann, says the authors of the plan have provided “a comprehensive concept which could enable spectators and guests to participate in cultural and sporting events under strict hygiene and infection-protection measures”.

“With their concept, the scientists, experts and cultural and sports institutions are, for the first time, presenting a cross-industry, data-based approach […] to the discussion about appropriate ways out of lockdown,” Zimmerman comments. “We want to reopen, and we want to protect the people who visit or work in our facilities from the virus. Both can work – as the concept presented today shows.”

“The scientists, experts and cultural and sports institutions are, for the first time, presenting a cross-industry, data-based approach”

The Event Management Forum, the umbrella organisation founded last year by live music group BDKV and four other events associations, also welcomes the plan – which is similar to the Manifest Restart (Restart Manifesto) it presented earlier this month – but points out that recent studies in Leipzig and Dortmund show that venues can go up to 100% capacity safely, far beyond the 25–30% on which the basic concept is based.

“From the point of view of the Event Management Forum, the concept is not yet suitable for actually enabling a ‘restart’ of event operations,” the forum says in a statement. “[I]t contains a basic model that should enable venues of all sizes to operate with 25 to 30% capacity, while outdoors with up to 40% capacity, while observing basic requirements such as social distancing, hygiene rules and personalised ticketing.”

Whereas, “in the Dortmund aerosol study,” it adds, “a capacity of 100% was considered harmless, provided that the audience in the hall wear masks.”

As for the ‘maximum model’ proposed in the plan, the Event Management Forum points out that venues could safely go to 100% capacity if attendees are tested for the virus before entry, making the other restrictions redundant. “The implementation of suitable tests can enable the utilisation of 100% [of a venue] without further measures if this ensures that only negative, non-infectious visitors are admitted to the respective venue,” the organisation adds.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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New Toronto arena to double as ‘global hub for esports’

Global esports and entertainment organisation OverActive Media is set to build a multipurpose 7,000-seater arena in Exhibition Place, Toronto, projected to be complete in 2025.

According to the company, the venue will host 200+ events a year, driven primarily by music and entertainment bookings, while also serving corporate events, award shows and ‘a full slate of esports events increasing over time’.

OverActive Media is the owner of four major global esport franchises, including Toronto’s two professional teams – Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League and Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League.

“We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world”

The venue will be home for both teams and the company hopes to establish the Toronto arena as a “global hub for major international esport events”.

The arena, designed by Populous, is just one aspect of the privately financed $500 million project, which includes a theatre-style entertainment venue and hotel complex.

“Today is another important step in the evolution of OverActive Media. We are building a world-leading, 21st-century sports, media and entertainment company and this best-in-class performance venue will be the chosen home for a new generation of fans that think differently about their entertainment choices and experiences,” says Chris Overholt, president and CEO at OverActive.

“It has always been our intention to develop a venue and hosting strategy and to build a facility that could not only serve as an iconic home for our two franchises, but ultimately emerge as a global hub for major international esport events. We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world. This venue will redefine Toronto’s event hosting opportunities in every way,” added Overholt.

The arena will be the first new sports or entertainment venue built in Toronto since 2007 when the city opened BMO Field, a 40,000-capacity outdoor stadium at Exhibition Place.

 


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M&S Bank Arena Liverpool CEO steps down

Bob Prattey, chief executive of the ACC Liverpool Group, has announced he is stepping aside after 16 years at the helm of the company.

Under his leadership, the Liverpool, UK, event campus – comprising ACC Liverpool, Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the 11,000-capacity M&S Bank Arena (formerly Echo Arena), has hosted over 3,000 events, welcomed more than eight million visitors and delivered an economic impact to the city of almost £2 billion.

Prattey was appointed ACC CEO in 2005 and launched the arena and convention centre in 2008. He continued to oversee the expansion of the business with the subsequent addition of Exhibition Centre Liverpool and the Pullman hotel in 2015, as well as attracting some of the biggest events in Europe. He will step aside at the end of March, succeeded on an interim basis by deputy CEO Faye Dyer.

“It has been a great honour and privilege to lead the ACC Liverpool Group for the past 16 years,” says Prattey. “I believe that this venue campus is amongst the premier league of European venues and has further enhanced the city’s reputation as a leading visitor destination. Since opening in 2008, we have attracted major international artists and global organisations and have reinforced Liverpool’s position as one of the most exciting cities in Europe.

“I have had time to reflect over the past 12 months and this feels like the right moment for both me personally and for the company to step aside and pass on the baton of leadership.

“While the last 12 months have undoubtedly been the hardest for all businesses in the events industry, I have been proud to lead the team through this unprecedented period. I have been amazed, but not surprised, by the resilience and determination shown by my team here at the ACC Liverpool Group, as well as our clients across all sectors and the entire industry, which has come together like never before.”

“We have a strong and committed senior leadership team and I am honoured to have been entrusted with Bob’s legacy”

Dyer takes up the role of interim managing director from 1 April 2021 and will be responsible for leading the business through the Covid-19 recovery phase, alongside events and operations director Kerry Mulloy and commercial director Ben Williams.

ACC Liverpool Group chair Max Steinberg CBE explains: “After careful consideration and planning, we have taken the decision to move to an interim leadership structure for a 12-month period to allow us to provide continuity for the business at a time when we will be focused on recovery and providing stability for our staff and our clients.

“I am pleased to welcome Faye to her new role as interim managing director and look forward to supporting her as she leads the business through this next phase of our journey.”

Dyer joined the ACC Liverpool Group in 2019 as corporate services director and deputy chief executive, following eight years at the Manchester Central convention centre complex.

“I am looking forward to taking up my position as interim managing director in April and leading the ACC Liverpool Group through our Covid-19 recovery plans as this remarkable industry gets back on its feet,” she comments.

“We have a strong and committed senior leadership team and I am honoured to have been entrusted with Bob’s legacy and to lead the team alongside Kerry and Ben through this next phase.”

 


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ILMC 33: One week to go

There is just one week to go until the global concert industry comes together again for the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), which returns as virtual event from 3 to 5 March 2021.

Hundreds of leading figures from across the global live music business are contributing to ILMC’s digital debut, as well as this year’s ILMC Production Meeting and Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI), which take place on 2 March. The ILMC conference schedule now features the largest line-up of guest speakers at any live music conference ever, with more than 250 speakers in attendance.

Over 1,000 delegates will attend ILMC 33, including executives including Irving Azoff (Azoff Music), Klaus-Peter Schulenberg (CTS Eventim), industry commentator Bob Lefsetz, Emma Banks (CAA), Tim Leiweke (Oak View Group), Jason Danter (Lady Gaga/Madonna), Lucy Dickins (WME), Pandora founder Tim Westergren, Sam Kirby Yoh (UTA) and Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett.

The 33rd edition of the top global platform for concert and festival professionals features 60+ meetings, workshops and keynotes across three days, alongside 50 showcases from new artists, presented by top booking agencies and export offices. Within the ILMC schedule, new event brand PULSE is a day of discussion around the intersection of technology and live music, and the Experience Economy Meeting (TEEM) focuses on non-music content.

“This is a crucial moment to bring the global live music business together”

The Arthur Awards, the live music industry’s Oscar equivalents, will stream live from the stage of the Royal Albert Hall as the iconic venue celebrates its 150th anniversary.

Companies supporting ILMC 33 include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, CTS Eventim, ASM Global, Showsec, Tysers, Hearby & Semmel Concerts.

ILMC head Greg Parmley says: “This edition of ILMC will mark one year since the live music business began to shut due to Covid-19, and it takes place just as markets around the world are pushing forward with plans to reopen.

“This is a crucial moment to bring the global live music business together to define its restart.”

The full schedule and details of all sessions and speakers are available at 33.ilmc.com. If you haven’t already, there is still time to secure your ILMC 33 pass at the discounted spring rate of £139/£159 until 18.00 GMT this Friday (26 February).

 


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Russian regions permit full capacity concerts

Russia is making a gradual return to live music, with the first handful of regions allowing events to take place at 100% capacity.

At the beginning of February, the governor of the Kemerovo region, in southwest Siberia, signed a decree permitting events to take place with 100% capacity.

While the governor of the Novosibirsk region, in Siberia, recently signed a decree to remove restrictions on the occupancy of venues. Both decrees have now come into force.

Russia’s live industry can now keep up to date with the capacity restrictions and mandatory format configurations in each region, thanks to a database published by a group of Russian organisations including the Association of Concert, Theatre and Ticket Organisations (KTiBO).

The Kemerovo region and the Novosibirsk region are the only areas operating at 100%

According to the database, which is updated as and when local authorities amend restrictions, the Kemerovo region and the Novosibirsk region are the only areas operating at 100%.

Regions including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Chelyabinsk, Orenburg and Leningrad are currently allowing venues and theatres to host concerts with up to 75% capacity.

In some regions such as Transbaikal, the Republic of Crimea, and the Republic of Mordovia the capacity limit is as low as 30%.

The KTiBO, together with the leaders of the industry of cultural and entertainment events, has been appealing with governors to raise the ceiling in line with the average capacity limit of 50%.

 


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Multimillion-euro ice show to debut at Uros Live Tampere

To serve indoor arenas starved starving for exciting, European family-friendly content, an international group of creators and promoters have used the Covid-19 shutdown to create a new, multimillion-euro Nordic ice-show brand bringing together figure skating, ice hockey and performing arts.

The Snow Queen, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name, presents a modernised take on the classic fairytale with a new, originally composed score. It will premiere at the new Uros Live arena in Tampere, Finland, on new year’s day 2022, with a further two performances on 2 and 3 January.

This production, which features the mythology of Lapland, creates a new form of European art that combines sports and arts, say creators, who worked with Canadian scriptwriter Melissa A. Thompson on the project.

The Snow Queen offers the audience something that has never been seen in Finland or the Nordic countries before,” says Paulina Ahokas, managing director of Tampere Hall and main producer of the show. “There is clearly a great demand for ice ballet productions on the market. In Finland, we have a high-level expertise in the field of ice arts, and it gives us a great foundation to produce a show like his. With these performers, artists and partners it has become reality.”

The performers for the tour will be chosen via international auditions. The concept has certain roles which will be played by each target market’s most beloved figure-skating and ice hockey stars.

“The Snow Queen offers the audience something that has never been seen in Finland or the Nordic countries before”

The Finnish production brings together the brightest stars of the skating world, including major competition winners ranging from figure skating and synchronised skating all the way to ice hockey. They include Kiira Korpi, five-time Finnish champion and three-time European medalist; Laura Lepistö, the most successful solo Finnish figure skater of all time; European champions, European and world-class ice dancing multi-medalists Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko; and figure skater Mila Kajas.

The strong core of the show will be formed by the most successful Finnish synchronised skating team, Marigold IceUnity, with their spectacular achievement of 13 world champion medals, out of which five are gold. The Finnish ice hockey scene is represented by the captains of Finland’s both national teams, Marko Anttila and Jenni Hiirikoski, NHL legend Niklas Hagman and ice hockey star Pekka Saravo, also known as a hockey commentator on television.

The producers, event organiser Tampere Hall and Kantelinen Company, have also recruited internationally acclaimed professionals in lighting design, direction, scriptwriting and costume design. The classic fairytale of The Snow Queen will be given a new arrangement on ice, composed by Tuomas Kantelinen, who is internationally famous for the compositions of two ballet productions, as well as operas and 98 film and television projects.

The show’s visual and lighting design will be conducted by Mikki Kunttu, famous for his work in some of the world’s greatest arenas and productions, including Cirque du Soleil. The show is directed by Reija Wäre, known for her significant musical and arena productions and ice choreographies, while Erika Turunen, Finland’s internationally most renowned costume designer, is in charge of the costume design. The ensemble choreographies are arranged by Anu ‘Jääskis’ Oksanen, known as the trainer and main choreographer of Marigold IceUnity.

The Snow Queen is a magical theatrical story, and it fits perfectly into the arena environment. The combination of skating art and ice sports, together with music, lights, stage settings and video technology, offers something for everyone – from the smallest hockey kids to their grandparents,” says Kunttu. “The Snow Queen brings the visual elegance and dynamics of dance and ballet to the arena, not to mention the immersive fire-soul energy.”

“The combination of skating art and ice sports, together with music, lights, stage settings and video technology, offers something for everyone”

Marko Hurme, managing director of Uros Live, comments: “The Uros Live arena is a venue for experiences of international interest. It is fantastic to have The Snow Queen as a show during our arena’s opening season. It complements the targets set for the wide audience groups that the Tampere-based arena will attract. The show is interesting for the whole family, and it offers an opportunity to come and see the arena is all its glory.”

The opening of the arena will take place at the end of 2021, and it will be an important landmark even on a European level. The Snow Queen ice show will be included in the culture strategy of the city of Tampere when it is applying for the position of European Capital of Culture in 2026.

“In this show, arts and sports will be combined with great expertise,” says Perttu Pesä, leader of the Capital of Culture application project. “We are excited to contribute to enabling this production, both in terms of applying for the European Capital of Culture in 2026 and for Tampere being a city of great events. What we have here is an international grand show.”

The Tampere Hall team will present an exclusive first see of The Snow Queen at ILMC 33 on Thursday 4 March. To register for ILMC, click here.

 


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UK industry reacts to reopening roadmap

Indoor performances are expected to return to music venues across England towards the end of May, provided the country’s Covid-19 response is going as planned, prime minister Boris Johnson announced today (22 February).

Johnson has set out a “cautious” four-step roadmap for the reopening of society, with at least five weeks between each step. The first step commences on 8 March when children will return to schools, while outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed from no earlier than 29 March.

Step two, which will commence no earlier than 12 April, will see non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality open without curfew.

Step three, expected to launch no earlier than 17 May, will see music venues, sports stadiums cinemas, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses welcome people indoors subject to social distancing and capacity limits, depending on the size of the venue.

Indoor performances will be restricted to the lower of 1,000 people or 50% capacity, outdoor performances limited to the lower of either 4,000 people or 50% capacity, and seated outdoor performances, to either 10,000 people or 25% of capacity.

The final step, which will start no earlier than 21 June, will see the government lift all restrictions, allowing nightclubs to reopen and large events to take place “above the limits of step three”.

The final step, estimated to start around 21 June, will see the government lift all restrictions

Larger events in step four will be influenced by the results of a new research programme which is detailed in new supplementary guidance that states: ‘Over the spring the government will run a scientific Events Research Programme. This will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes.

‘The pilots will start in April. The government will bring the findings from across different sectors and different settings to determine a consistent approach to lifting restrictions on these events. Depending on the outcome of this work, the government hopes to be able to lift restrictions on these events and sectors as part of Step 4.’

However, the PM has stipulated that to move from one stage to the next, four conditions will need to be met: first, that the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully. Second, that evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths.

Third, that infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. And fourth, that the government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of Covid that cause concern.

While the UK live industry has welcomed some clarity from the prime minister, it has also expressed disappointment at being the last to reopen and is calling for extended financial support to sustain the sector throughout the next four months.

“We need the government to commit urgently to an extension of the 5% VAT rate on ticket sales and employment support”

A statement issued by recently-launched umbrella trade organisation LIVE says, “The Chancellor now has a choice to make as it is clear live music will be closed, or uneconomical, for the months ahead, with a return to normality not possible at least 21 June, four long months away. Support for businesses and individuals must continue and, in particular, when the Government looks at unwinding the general support packages, they must replace them with sector-specific support for the industries that will take longer than anyone else to reopen.”

Greg Parmley, CEO, LIVE, says: “While it is good to get some clarity following almost a year of confusion, as predicted our £4.5 billion industry is at the back of the queue to reopen. Any return to normality for live music could be months behind the rest of the economy. The chancellor must acknowledge our extended closure in the budget and provide the economic support needed to ensure the jobs and livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people that work in our industry exist as we come through this pandemic.

“We need the government to commit urgently to an extension of the 5% VAT rate on ticket sales and employment support that reaches all those unable to work due to the restrictions. To reopen, the sector needs a government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead when it’s safe to do so, and with venues shuttered across the UK, an extension of business rates relief would be both fair and necessary.”

“Today’s statement must be accompanied with comprehensive financial support”

David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition, says: “While the prime minister’s statement offers some green shoots of hope for live music, there is some way to go before we return to pre-pandemic levels of activity. A cautious approach is right to protect lives and reopening too early would be counter-intuitive for the industry’s long-term outlook. However, the government must adhere to its own advice, allowing data to guide decision making, so that we can return immediately when it is safe to do so.

“Ahead of full reopening, government has to learn from previous mistakes and listen to the industry. Last year’s slow response on income support and other financial assistance led to the closure of businesses and the loss of livelihoods. Today’s statement must be accompanied with comprehensive financial support for individuals plus insurance and businesses support measures, including an extension to the reduced VAT rate on event tickets. This will allow the music industry to bounce back effectively and contribute its full potential to the UK’s economic recovery.”

“It is logical that the government will choose to address [our] specific status with sector-specific financial support”

Mark Dayvd, CEO, Music Venue Trust, says: “It is good to hear the government provide conditions under which initially socially distanced events, and then fuller capacity events, can take place. Based on this information, it is now possible to imagine how we Revive Live in grassroots music venues and develop that work into the full return of our domestic music scene.

“We note that this roadmap once again singles out live performance events as a specific risk which require that the sector is treated in a special way. Since March 2020, we have made the case to the government that if this is the case, based on their interpretation of the data, then it is logical that the government will choose to address that specific status with sector-specific financial support to mitigate the damage being done to businesses and people’s lives, careers and families right across the live music industry.

“In light of today’s announcements, the budget next week must clearly lay out exactly how the government is going to provide that sector-specific support. We warmly welcome the government’s acknowledgement of the value of nightlife, committing to not reinstating a curfew and including nightclubs within the reopening timetable.”

“The real risk that suppliers to events face is collapse”

David Keighley, chair, PSA, says: “Whilst we fully understand the risk-averse approach to reopening, government needs to be aware that live events excel in a risk-assessed approach, with the safety of attendees and workers always prioritised. The real risk that suppliers to events face is collapse, to avoid this will require effective financial support that reaches the whole events ecosystem, real support until our sector is allowed to return to viable levels of activity. This is the only way to ensure this valuable economic contributor is in a position to play its essential part in our country’s recovery.”

Paul Reed, CEO, AIF, says: “We welcome the prime minister’s roadmap out of lockdown, presented to the house of commons this afternoon, and are optimistic that many of our member festivals may be able to go ahead in some capacity later on this year. There are still, however, some urgent points of clarity that need to be made around the exact requirements that festival organisers will need to meet, in particular around testing and covid certification.

“We look forward to engaging closely with government on the Events Research Programme and again stress that we are rapidly approaching the decision cut off point for the vast majority of festivals at the end of March. If a complete picture is not given by this time, it will be too late for many to stage events later in the year.

“We also appreciate that this is a best-case scenario and that the government reserves the right to delay the easing of lockdown restrictions if the data dictates. Festival organisers only want to return when it is safe to do so but, if the easing of restrictions does lose momentum and events are suddenly cancelled as a result, it is vital that our sector receives swift and targeted government support to compensate. In addition, government intervention on insurance and VAT remain critical.”

The NHS has so far vaccinated more than 17.5 million people across the UK and the PM hopes to have every adult vaccinated by the end of July.

 


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