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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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Madrid’s WiZink Centre to reopen to 2,000 attendees

Madrid’s WiZink Centre is due to reopen tomorrow (27 October) to 2,000 attendees for the Spanish Padel Tennis Championship with a number of new Covid-19 health and safety precautions in place.

The 16,000-capacity indoor arena, which will open at less than the authorised 40% capacity, has improved its ventilation systems to nullify the recirculation of air and guarantees that its 160,000 cubic meters of air will be completely renovated every 12 minutes.

Scientists from Germany’s Restart-19 project recently found that poor ventilation can significantly increase the number of people exposed to a risk of infection.

WiZink will top its maximum attendance so far with a concert by Spanish star Raphael in December with up to 5,000 fans

The venue’s other health and safety measures include taking spectators’ temperature on arrival; blood tests for staff; and leaving at least two seats between groups when regulations only ask for one seat distance.

WiZink Center was one of the first international venues to reopen its doors to the public after the first lockdown, holding its first show on 3 July, with Spanish rockstar Loquillo performing to more than 1,700 fans.

The arena has since hosted a number of music events including Madrid Summer Fest, a nine-concert series featuring Spanish and international artists, with an audience of up to 2,000 people for each show.

WiZink will top its maximum attendance so far with a concert by Spanish star Raphael on 19 December with up to 5,000 attendees, while Spanish dancer and choreographer Joaquín Cortés will perform on 23 December.

 


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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.

 


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Pete Tong to play London’s O2 arena this December

Pete Tong, along with The Heritage Orchestra and its founder Jules Buckley, will bring live music back to London’s O2 for the first time since the advent of the pandemic in March.

The BBC Radio 1 DJ and co will perform Ibiza classics without an audience, taking full advantage of the floor space afforded by the 21,000-capacity venue.

Fans will be able to watch ‘O Come, All Ye Ravers’ on 19 December via LIVENow and tickets will be free for O2 customers and upwards of £10 for others.

Pete Tong presents Ibiza Classics with The Heritage Orchestra and Jules Buckley was held at the O2 for the first time in December 2016 and has returned to sell-out crowds each year since. The live event will return to the O2 with a live audience on 4 and 5 December 2021.

“We’re going to perform from the floor of the O2 arena and broadcast it right into your homes”

“We are very excited that Pete Tong, The Heritage Orchestra and Jules Buckley are returning to the O2 with their Ibiza Classics show for a fifth consecutive year – no pandemic will get in the way of this annual tradition,” says Christian D’Acuna, the O2 programming director.

“It will be the first time the O2 has had any live music performed in the venue since March and despite there being no fans in the venue, it’s great to return to live with one of our favourite shows. We can’t wait to tune in on Saturday 19 December and look forward to the return of fans for next years confirmed Pete Tong Ibiza Classics shows at the O2.”

Pete Tong says: “2020, our whole year has been lost – no tours, no shows, no exceptions! We can’t be together in clubs or concert arenas but we can still put on a show for you. We’re going to perform from the floor of the O2 arena and broadcast it right into your homes. The rave will be back one day but for now, we are going to make the most of what we have!”

Early bird tickets go on general sale at 9 am on 27 November from the O2’s website. O2 customers can get their tickets for free via the Priority app from 9 am tomorrow (26 November) until the afternoon on the day of the event.

 


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Communion launches livestream series Communion Presents

Communion Music, the UK-based promoter and record label, has announced Communion Presents, a new series of livestreamed performances and conversations with artists filmed at London venue Lafayette.

Communion Presents, hosted on livestreaming service LIVENow, will take the form of a weekly-30 minute show featuring two live performances and interviews hosted by Communion promoter Mazin Tappuni. The first episode goes live on Sunday 29 November and features performances by Olivia Dean and Louis Dunford.

Further confirmed guests include Apre, Chartreuse and Zola Courtney. The first series runs up to 27 December.

Each show will be broadcast for free on LIVENow, which is also home to upcoming live streams by Dua Lipa (Studio 2054) and Gorillaz (Song Machine Live) shows.

“We hope this series with our friends at LIVENow helps bring their live shows to your screens”

“Providing a stage for new music has always been at the heart of what we do at Communion,” comments Tappuni. “During this disaster of a year, we wanted to find a way to continue supporting exciting new artists and creating a livestreaming series seemed the right way to do it. There have been some fantastically memorable streamed shows over the past few months; Dermot Kennedy’s set at the Natural History Museum and Nick Cave’s masterclass at Alexandra Palace were among my favourites.

“Lafayette is London’s best new venue, and while you can’t come and see that for yourself yet, we hope these online shows offer up the next best opportunity to see what makes it so special.”

Lafayette, part of Ben Lovett’s Venue Group, opened in March in King’s Cross, London, with a show by Brit Award winner Dave winning artist, but less than a fortnight later was forced to close because of coronavirus. Lovett, a member of Mumford & Sons and co-founder of Communion, spoke about the impending launch of Lafeyette and his passion for grassroots venues at Futures Forum at ILMC 32.

Continues Tappuni: “2020 has undoubtedly been a difficult year for so many new artists, who haven’t had any opportunities to play in front of their new fans, and we hope this series with our friends at LIVENow helps bring their live shows to your screens.”

 


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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.

 


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Beyond solidarity

The Black Lives Matter movement and Black Out Tuesday galvanised many teams to reflect, connect with Black communities, and come together as a global music industry in solidarity against anti-Black racism, bigotry and prejudice. And the momentum for change kept up in the UK through Black History Month celebrations.

It is also great to hear a groundswell of ‘building back better’ discussions to ensure that the industry’s Covid-19 recovery allows the music community to act on systemic injustice, inequitable financial benefit and the many barriers that prevent underrepresented creators and professionals from fulfilling potential and forging long-term successful careers.

We know the pandemic disproportionately impacts underrepresented groups and we must counteract that with a greater sense of urgency. At PRS Foundation, we know we will play a vital role in recovery and in shaping the future of music to build a stronger, connected and sustainable music community.

We have made much progress to address gender inequality, launching Women Make Music in 2011, achieving gender balance across our grants programmes in 2018, and co-founding the global Keychange movement, which has over 370 music companies working together towards achieving gender balance by 2022.

“Goodwill amounts to little more than window-dressing if not followed up by commitments, action and accountability”

And we are building on our strong track-record for inclusivity and industry collaboration to develop a long-term ambitious programme to power-up Black creative and executive talent.

To bring about meaningful and lasting change, public solidarity is not enough. Goodwill amounts to little more than window-dressing if not followed up by commitments, action and accountability.

So, what does action and change look like? And to paraphrase the ever-inspiring Keith Harris, OBE, how do we seize the momentum to avoid this becoming “another false dawn in terms of equality in the industry”?

If you don’t know where to begin, you are not alone. Perhaps you feel that personal action may not be enough. Or that the pandemic means you or your company cannot contribute financially.

Or perhaps you’re one of the hundreds of first-time organisation grantees receiving lifeline support from the Culture Recovery Fund or similar Arts Council funds across the UK. You might not know where to start when it comes to the crucial commitment you have made to increase organisational diversity and the diversity of audiences, visitors and/or participants.

I want to stress that there are already very clear pathways to meaningful change. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can connect with the many who have worked tirelessly for decades on diversity and inclusion, or to brand new collectives and initiatives launched this year. And there has never been a bigger opportunity (and responsibility) to come together to address social injustice.

“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Connect with the many who have worked tirelessly for decades on diversity and inclusion”

Below are some individuals, initiatives and organisations whose work might inspire you:

Black Music Coalition (BMC) – launched by senior music execs following Black Out Tuesday, the BMC set out five priorities to tackle discrimination in the UK music industry, followed by a must-read manifesto that includes the creation of a resource pack available to music companies.

Nadia Khan – the Women in CTRL network has 800 members and its Seat at the Table report sparked considerable commitments to improve board representation at UK trade bodies.

Ammo Talwar – through the UK Music Diversity Task Force, Ammo has been working tirelessly with colleagues on the 2020 Diversity Report.

Michael Rapino – the Live Nation CEO set global commitments and ambitious targets to build diversity by 2025. Crucially, he is committed to holding himself accountable – something our Keychange pledge has been encouraging for years.

Oslo World – have adapted to the pandemic with an innovative 3D virtual festival and, acting on their ‘Solidarity’ theme, have made all tickets free, with optional donations going to the Beirut music scene.

Creative responses – Native Instruments’ Covid-19 response saw them collaborate with artists to launch a donation-based charity sound pack, benefitting initiatives including Keychange and Heart n Soul. And we’ve had two indie companies donating in-kind support (e.g. residencies/marketing campaigns) to grantees of our Sustaining Creativity Fund.

Personal commitment – countless thousands have been donating to vital causes to support the music ecosystem during the pandemic. Beggars CEO, Paul Redding, swam for 16 hours across the English Channel to raise over £120,000 for a new racial inclusivity programme and for Sweet Relief’s Covid-19 fund in the US.

 


Joe Frankland is CEO of PRS Foundation.

Spanish venues host silent concerts in protest

More than 125 Spanish venues hosted silent performances last night as part of ‘The Last Concert’ (#ElÚltimoConcierto), a campaign which was launched to demonstrate the severity of the situation facing music spaces if further support is not provided.

Apolo Hall in Barcelona and Madrid’s Café La Palma were among the iconic Spanish venues that livestreamed ‘performances’ with the message: “Yes … you are listening well. If urgent measures are not applied, the concert halls will remain silent”.

 

Artists including Amaia, Louise Sansom, Joan Colomo, Núria Graham, David Carabén, La Casa Azul, Miqui Puig, Ferran Palau, Suu, Egosex, Maria Arnal and El Petit de Cal Eril took part, silently expressed their impotence for the absence of live music or wielded signage that read ‘culture does not stop’ and ‘no more taxes’.

‘The Last Concert’ campaign initially launched with venues posting photos on social networks with the year of the venue’s foundation and the year 2020 with a question mark to demonstrate their struggle to survive beyond 2020.

According to the campaign group, 25,000 concerts in Spain will have been cancelled this year, causing a total loss of €120 million for concert halls. These spaces employ almost five thousand direct workers, whose jobs are at risk. Most Spanish venues have reportedly been shuttered for eight months and have received no financial income and/or are waiting to receive public aid and opening permits.

The initiative’s manifesto says “the action of all administrations is urgent” to save venues. “At its three levels, the state, the autonomous communities, and the city councils must listen to the shock measures that are proposed to reduce monthly expenses, commit to allocating financial aid for 2021 to compensate for the losses suffered so far, and guarantee the continuity of this basic and essential sector, such as the concert hall circuit.”

According to the Catalan government’s draft plan, cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and concert halls are expected to open on 23 November with 50% capacity and a maximum of 600 people. So far, the only cultural spaces that have been permitted to open are museums and exhibition halls at 33% of the capacity.

 


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Suncorp Stadium sets record attendance

Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane has set a record for the highest attendance since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March.

The 52,500-capacity stadium welcomed 49,155 fans to last night’s State of Origin rugby finale between Queensland and New South Wales, eclipsing the 46,000 figure for last month’s Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between New Zealand and Australia at Auckland’s Eden Park.

The open-air stadium was permitted to operate at full capacity after Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk lifted the 75% capacity restriction the day before (17 November).

Palaszczuk also announced that seated and ticketed indoor events like concerts are permitted to increase patron numbers from 50% to 100% and outdoor events can host up to 1,500 people. Social distancing has increased to one person per two square metres.

Suncorp Stadium will also host a date of the first stadium tour announced since the outbreak of Covid-19.

“GNR’s 2021 Australia and New Zealand tour is the light at the end of the bleak tunnel we’ve all negotiated this year”

Guns N’ Roses (GNR) will embark on a stadium tour of Australia and New Zealand in November 2021, stopping off at the Brisbane stadium as well as ANZ Stadium (cap. 83,500) in Syndey, Optus Stadium (60,000) in Perth and more.

Paul Dainty, president and CEO of TEG Dainty, which is promoting the tour says: “As the first stadium tour announcement since the advent of Covid-19 and border closures pressed pause on touring, it’s fair to say our appetite for live music performances by international megastars has peaked and in GNR we trust!

“GNR’s 2021 Australia and New Zealand tour is the light at the end of the bleak tunnel we’ve all negotiated this year. All aboard the Nightrain to Paradise City for what promises to be a heaving celebration of the unbreakable human spirit!”

Australia is also set to host its first arena shows since the shutdown of the concert business in March, organised by TEG, Live Nation and the government of New South Wales (NSW).

The Greatest Southern Nights shows will play to more than 12,000 fans at Qudos Bank Arena (21,000-cap.) over two nights in a seated, ‘Covid-safe’ setting on 28 November and 5 December.

 


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