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Dutch live industry furious about indoor capacity limit

Key figures from the Netherlands’ live sector say the new 75%-capacity limit for indoor standing events is “unsubstantiated, arbitrary and extremely harmful”.

The measure was announced yesterday (14 September) by the Dutch government as part of a wider rollback of restrictions, planned for 25 September.

The live industry, which recently galvanised more than 150,000 residents to protest restrictions on live entertainment, has hit back at the government for delaying a full reopening.

“As a sector, we have really done everything we can to influence decision-making and provide substantiation to be fully open. But imaging apparently outweighs facts,” says Jolanda Jansen, spokesperson on behalf of the Alliance of Event Builders.

Riemer Rijpkema, spokesperson on behalf of the EventPlatform adds: “We are surprised and disappointed about the choices made by the cabinet. From all the studies of the Fieldlab Events programme and now also from the countless examples from the countries around us, it is clear that events can open safely at full capacity. The 75% limit is unsubstantiated, arbitrary and extremely harmful.”

Indoor events, clubs and venues will also be required to close between 00:00 and 06:00 CET.

The Dutch government today (15 September) has attempted to soften the blow by announcing a €15 million fund to compensate promoters and venues for lost revenue from indoor standing shows.

Ruben Brouwer, director at Mojo, calls the compensation “a blanket for the bleeding”

However, Ruben Brouwer, director at Mojo, calls the compensation “a blanket for the bleeding”.

“Why is 75% good and safe, and 100% not? They don’t explain that. Then you have a bag of money here to make up for the shortages. I think every organiser has to decide what to do next: am I going to organise it or should I cancel it? This is too little, too late.”

Also from 25 September, social distancing will be completely abolished and capacity limits will not apply to outdoor events.

However, the corona pass will be a condition of entry for everyone aged 13 and over who wants to visit an event, festival, theatre, cinema or catering facility.

Attendees at multi-day events will be required to show their corona pass every 24 hours.

The news comes too late for many major festivals such as Lowlands, Mysteryland, DGTL, Down the Rabbit Hole, Awakenings and Paaspop, which were called off earlier this year.

Amsterdam Music Festival, the Netherlands’ largest indoor music festival, was cancelled yesterday (15 September).

 


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Dutch festival organisers dealt another big blow

Only small, one-day festivals will be permitted to take place in the Netherlands this summer, the Dutch government has announced.

From 14 August, events with a maximum of 750 attendees can take place provided they meet a series of restrictions.

Attendees must be fully vaccinated, recovered from infection within the past six months, or present a negative test from Testing for Access. Visitors are also asked to take a test five days after the event. The events are not allowed closed festival tents.

Multi-day festivals with overnight stays are not allowed until at least 1 September, after the government last week extended the ban.

Events that cannot meet the aforementioned restrictions will not be covered by the government’s guarantee fund.

In addition to the measures for the event sector, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte also announced that those who get the Janssen jab will not be considered fully vaccinated until four weeks after, rather than two.

“[The government’s decision is] a bitter pill for the industry that has been closed for so long”

The Alliance of Event Builders (Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers) has reacted to the news: “Unfortunately, we conclude that the government is once again imposing a major restriction on the events today. As a result, the event industry is again faced with serious disappointment.

“After the multi-day festivals with camping last week, many one-day festivals and multi-day festivals without camping are now also deleted from the summer calendar. A hard decision and of course another big blow, a very sad observation and bitter pill for the industry that has been closed for so long.

“We will soon resume talks [with the government] for the period after 1 September. With the further increase in vaccination coverage and the insights from the Fieldlab Events studies, the Alliance is committed to a responsible, full opening of the planned events.”

Initially, the government was due to give a decision on one-day events without overnight stays on 13 August but the date was brought forward at the request of the events sector.

It’s like that the summary proceedings that promoter ID&T filed against the government also played a role in bringing the decision forward.

The event organiser – which has been forced to cancel events including Mysteryland – and 44 industry peers have filed a lawsuit against the government because they believed a decision on 13 August would be too late. The preliminary relief proceedings have been temporarily adjourned pending today’s decision.

The lawyer representing ID&T and co-claimants has contacted the state lawyer to request the Outbreak Management Team’s advice and the substantiation of the decision. ID&T will consider these documents and decide within two days whether the summary proceedings will be continued.

 


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Dutch gov delivers death knell for summer festivals

Dutch festivals such as Lowlands, Down the Rabbit Hole and Mysteryland, will not be permitted to take place this summer after the government extended its ban on multi-day events until September.

The ban on non-seated public events and multi-day festivals with more than 1,000 attendees came into effect on 10 July and was set to remain until 14 August, when the government would decide whether festivals after that date could go ahead.

However, the cabinet has sealed the fate of the summer season sooner than expected, ruling out multi-day festivals until at least 1 September due to uncertainties surrounding the Delta variant of Covid.

Following the news, Mojo-promoted event A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise (aka Lowlands), which would have taken place between 20–22 August, has been called off for a second consecutive year.

“This is a very bitter pill because the developments surrounding corona have clearly gone in the right direction in recent months,” says Mojo. “Based on that, we started the preparations for Lowlands full of enthusiasm and all artists, suppliers and especially you were ready for a fantastic weekend in the polder. While this is a major setback, we understand and respect [the government’s] decision.”

“This is a very bitter pill because the developments surrounding corona have clearly gone in the right direction”

All Lowlands ticket buyers will automatically receive a refund for tickets purchased in 2020 and 2021. The next edition of the festival is set for 19–21 August 2022.

The organisers thanked the government for setting up the €385 million insurance fund, which they say would guarantee the survival of the sector, as well as Lowlands itself.

Mojo has also been forced to cancel Down the Rabbit Hole, which had already moved from July to the weekend of 27–29 August for a one-off visit to the Biddinghuizen (home of Lowlands).

“No matter how big that setback is, we respect that decision and are happy with the life preservation buoy in the form of a guarantee fund that allows us to support artists, suppliers, caterers, and all the other thousands of hands that make Down The Rabbit Hole,” says Mojo.

All ticket buyers will automatically receive a refund for tickets purchased in 2020 and 2021. Down the Rabbit Hole will return to its usual home of Groene Huvels in Beuningen between 1–3 July 2022.

“No matter how big that setback is, we respect that decision and are happy with the guarantee fund – a life preservation buoy”

Mysteryland (cap. 60,000), the Netherlands’ oldest and most famous electronic music festival, will also forego 2021 due to the extension of the ban.

This year’s sold-out edition was due to take place between 27–29 August in Haarlemmermeerse Bos in north Amsterdam.

The festival’s promoter ID&T, along with a raft of Dutch event organisers, recently initiated summary proceedings against the government over the initial ban on multi-day festivals.

“We understand that this isn’t the news you were hoping for, and it breaks our heart to share it with you,” ID&T wrote.

“During the last months, our whole team has been pushing the limit, working day and night to create what would’ve been the most magical weekend of the year, while also complying with the changing regulations set by the Dutch government. With only a month to go till a sold-out Mysteryland would’ve taken place, all stages and shows were ready for our festival adventure, but unfortunately, it seems it wasn’t meant to be this year.”

“Unfortunately, the Alliance jointly with the government had to conclude that [multi-day festivals] are an unfeasible scenario”

Elsewhere, the Alliance of Event Builders says that it understands the cabinet decision: “Over the past few weeks, we have had intensive consultations with the government about the conditions under which multi-day camping festivals such as Lowlands and Mysteryland can continue.

“Unfortunately, the Alliance jointly with the government had to conclude that we have now been overtaken by reality and that this has become an unfeasible scenario. The quality and responsible festival experience for visitors, employees and artists cannot be sufficiently guaranteed.”

Organisers of one-day festivals will have to wait until August before the government decides whether or not they can continue with their event. The same applies to other one-day events without overnight stays.

The government’s tightening of restrictions comes in spite of Fieldlab’s findings from three months’ worth of pilot events in the Netherlands show that the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home.

Fieldlab is an initiative of the Dutch government and several trade bodies, including the Alliance of Event Builders.

 


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Netherlands mulls cancellation fund for concerts

The Dutch government is considering introducing a German-style fund to reimburse organisers whose events are cancelled by coronavirus restrictions.

Following lobbying by the Alliance of Event Builders (Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers), an umbrella group whose members include promoters’ association VVEM and festival/venues body VNPF, calls for a cancellation fund have reached the corridors of power in the Netherlands, with minister of culture Ingrid van Engelshoven said to be close to making a decision on the way forward for live events.

In December, Germany became the latest European country to set up a cancellation fund, worth €2.5 billion, to de-risk the organising of live events while Covid-19 (and associated restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement) is still a threat.

Austria, meanwhile, set up a €300 million fund of its own in October, while pressure is growing in the UK for a similar government-backed insurance fund.

“We are happy to make it a happy new year, but we need a guarantee fund from the government”

A spokesperson for van Engelshoven (pictured) tells the VPRO the minister will announce whether her department is backing a ‘guarantee fund’ by early February at the latest.

Jolanda Jansen, a spokesperson for the alliance, comments: “I am looking enthusiastically at the 2021 events schedule, with major international crowd-pullers, such as the Eurovision Song Contest and [the delayed] Euro 2020, set to really put the Netherlands on the map,” says alliance spokesperson Jolanda Jansen. “In addition, we have a rich festival culture with around 1,200 festivals, from small to large, throughout the country, and we know a large number of clubs and theatres.

“Almost everyone in our industry is eager and ready to get back to work. We are happy to make it a happy new year, but we need commitments and a guarantee fund, on the German model, from the government to continue.”

 


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