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ARA publishes analysis of European test events

The Arena Resilience Alliance, the purpose-driven initiative created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), has published a report analysing findings from more than 20 test events hosted at 12 of its partner arenas across Europe.

ARA partner arenas that have hosted test events and experimental studies include AccorHotels Arena Paris, Ahoy Arena Rotterdam, Avia Solutions Group Arena Vilnius, Barclaycard Arena Hamburg, Mercedes-Benz Arena Berlin and Palau Sant Jordi Barcelona.

Quarterback Immobilien Arena Leipzig, Rockhal Luxembourg (2 venues), Saku Suurhall Tallinn, The O2 London, and Ziggo Dome Amsterdam are also affiliated with the ARA and have hosted experiments.

The new report aims to share the experience and insights gathered from those test events – which took place with between 100 and 5,000 participants – in order to provide a framework for the return to live events in Europe.

According to the ARA’s analysis, the total amount of visitors admitted at each event varied from under 5% of normal maximum capacity to over 30%.

The highest capacity events were held at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris which sold 5,000 tickets representing 33% of total capacity and the Palau San Jordi in Barcelona which also hosted 5,000 people which represented 28% of capacity.

“Building confidence amongst all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important”

The report also notes the varying approaches to safety and preventative measures:

In terms of infrastructure development, arena ventilation and air filtering were found to be the highest priority for all participating venues, with 92% actively monitoring ventilation performance and 8% operating specific air filtration systems.

When it came to customer experience delivery, 100% of venues provided detailed pre-event customer guidance communications and ensured all the onsite staff were given adequate training to be able to deliver the new protocols. Almost 60% of venues offered food and beverage services and 42% operated contactless payment processes.

The report emphasises that, at the time of publication, there are “no recorded clusters of infection from those who attended the test events and there is no published evidence that these events contributed to the spread of the virus”.

It concludes: “From the evidence available to date, it appears that with the correct implementation of safety measures, in particular pre-event Covid testing and the use of the EU Digital Certificate, it is possible to host safe indoor live events.”

“We were pleased to share these findings, with a view to building towards a model that can be scaled”

“Arenas sit at the hub of the live events ecosystem playing a vital role in bringing together all the major stakeholders and playing a crucial role in communities across Europe,” says John Langford, president of European Arenas Association. “Over the past year, ARA has been promoting important dialogue around why we need unified conditions that will allow music, culture and sports to return to arenas and enable arenas to reopen.”

Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal in Luxembourg, EAA board member and co-founder of ARA, added: “After almost a year and a half without live events, experiments like our Because Music Matters showcase and other test events that have been taking place across Europe, are an important and positive step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our back to business strategies.

“Building confidence amongst all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important. We were pleased to share these findings, with a view to building towards a model that can be scaled as the industry continues to work towards the safe and sustainable return of live events.”

Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust, owners of The SSE Arena, Belfast, EAA Member and co-founder of ARA, commented: “As the advocacy platform for European arenas, the ARA has developed a manifesto, which will be an important tool as we prepare for a return to live events, whilst working to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities and the sustainability of our industry.

“This report publishing the findings of the recent test events provides a further tool to help industry and key EU decision-makers come together and discuss the regional and national frameworks that will help us get back to business.”

See an extensive list of the test events and experimental studies that aim to show a scientific path back to live here.

 


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ARA launches manifesto for safe return of live

The EAA’s Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA) has launched its manifesto outlining the next steps required for the safe return of live events across Europe.

The ARA, a special-purpose initiative created by members of the European Arenas Association, unveiled the four-point action plan at its second virtual conference, A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg, which took place yesterday afternoon (18 February).

The manifesto, entitled Rationale for a Resilient Return, centres on four core concepts:

“As the advocacy platform for European arenas, the ARA’s manifesto will be an important tool as we prepare for a return to live events while working to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities and the sustainability of our industry,” says Robert Fitzpatrick, ARA co-founder and CEO of the Odyssey Trust, which owns the SSE Arena Belfast (an EAA member).

“The ARA’s manifesto will be an important tool as we prepare for a return to live events”

The second A Game of Two Halves conference followed the live music experiment organised by the Rockhal arena in Luxembourg last week, which saw a series of five live shows take place between 10 and 14 February as part of the Because Music Matters showcase.

Audiences were limited in capacity to 100 people each night, with allocated seats set up around a central stage to ensure a certain level of proximity to the stage while ensuring social distancing controls were in place throughout the venue. Attendees had to wear masks at all times inside the venue, and every participant and audience member was tested before and after each show.

Other safety precautions included contactless audience security screening and access control and guidance inside the venue. Full results from the experiment are expected in around two weeks.

A short behind-the-scenes video from the Rockhal test concerts were screened as part of the conference, following an introductory keynote from Sam Tanson, Luxembourg’s minister of culture.

Speaking at the conference, Tanson praised the efforts of Rockhal and Luxembourg’s health authority, saying she felt these tests were “very important” and showed the potential for live events to return with the “appropriate measures” in place.

Olivier Toth, EAA board member, ARA co-founder and CEO of Rockhal, says: “After almost a year without live events, experiments like our Because Music Matters showcase and other test events that have been taking place across Europe are an important and positive step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our back-to-business strategies, building confidence among all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important.

“We were pleased to share initial feedback from the experiment at the ARA conference and we look forward to reviewing the findings fully, with a view to building towards a model that can be scaled as the industry continues to work towards the safe and sustainable return of live events.”

A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg is available to watch again via the EAA YouTube Channel and Facebook page.

 


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ARA set to reveal manifesto for Europe’s return to live

The Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), the purpose-driven initiative created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), is set to launch a manifesto detailing the essential next steps for a safe return to live music and sport across Europe.

The action plan will be revealed during the industry body’s second conference, ‘A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg‘ in association with IQ, which will be streamed live on Thursday 18 February at 1 pm GMT on the EAA’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The free virtual event will feature contributions from a range of speakers including John Langford (AEG Europe COO and EAA president), Sam Tanson (minister of culture for Luxembourg) and Alex Jäger, (sport director at Champions Hockey League).

The free virtual event will feature contributions from speakers including John Langford, Sam Tanson and Alex Jäger

A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg will also feature a keynote speech and presentation by Sam Tanson, minister of culture for Luxembourg, featuring behind the scenes footage and in-depth analysis from a series of test concerts taking place in Luxembourg at Rockhal arena’s club venue.

Alongside the Rockhal test events presentation and ARA manifesto launch, the event will also feature two panel discussions titled ‘Ready to Rock and Play’ and ‘Working out Way Back To You’ which will explore what support the live events sector needs from policymakers on both a national and EU level to enable long-term resilience and future growth.

Opening addresses will be delivered by Rita Brasil de Brito (chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Portuguese presidency of the council of the EU and Viviane Hoffmann (deputy director general at the European Commission Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture).

ARA’s first virtual conference, A Game of Two Halves, which streamed in December 2020 is available to watch online here.

 


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ARA conference to analyse Rockhal test concerts

The Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), a newly formed purpose group created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), has announced part two of its virtual conference, A Game of Two Halves, in association with IQ.

A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg will hear key representatives from EU institutions, national governments, and live event sectors explore how large capacity venues across Europe are preparing for a safe reopening, particularly using test concerts.

The conference will reflect on a series of test concerts taking place in Luxembourg at Rockhal arena’s club venue between 10–14 February.

Taking place under the banner of ‘Because Music Matters’, each event in the five-night series will be limited to 100 people – all of whom will be required to take a Covid-19 test prior to the event and again seven days later, wear a mask throughout the event, and socially distance inside.

The series is hosted in conjunction with the national health inspection authority.

Behind the scenes content and insights from the Rockhal test concerts will be screened as part of the conference, offering an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned and next steps and helping to frame the discussion around what still needs to be done.

“[The Rockhal tests] are an important step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our strategies”

The event will also explore what support the live events sector needs from policymakers on both a national and EU level to enable long-term resilience and future growth.

Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal in Luxembourg and co-founder of the ARA says: “Building on the success of our first #AGameofTwoHalves webinar in December, we are proud to return with a second event that will explore how we are working towards the safe return of live music and sport. Our Because Music Matters showcase at Rockhal is an important step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our back to business strategies. I look forward to sharing our experience and insights from these events.”

Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust, owners of The SSE Arena, Belfast and co-founder of the ARA added: “As the advocacy platform for European arenas, the ARA is proud to provide an opportunity for the industry to come together with key EU decision-makers to prepare for a return to live events, whilst working to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities and the sustainability of our industry, which will be central to the economic and societal recovery of countries across Europe.

“Together, we can build regional and national frameworks, with international collaboration that will help us get back to business.”

The free online event will be streamed live on Thursday 18 February via the EAA YouTube channel and Facebook page.

ARA’s first virtual conference in December 2020 is available to watch online here.

 


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ARA conference: “Arenas are the workhorses of the biz”

Industry pros from music, sport and the EU yesterday came together for a virtual conference organised by Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), a newly formed purpose group created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), in association with IQ.

The conference, titled A Game of Two Halves, opened a dialogue about the need for a pan-European strategy for the return of live music and sports events indoors.

The live music session invited speakers MEP, Monica Semedo; Herman Schueremans, CEO, Live Nation, Belgium; Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal, Luxembourg and Jason Danter, production manager/director for artists including Madonna, Lady Gaga and Iron Maiden.

The panel’s central focus was the role of arenas in the industry’s ecosystem, which heard speakers explain why it is important to keep the venues open.

Danter says that from a touring point of view, arena shows are what bands often strive to achieve at the peak of their careers.

“There’s a huge difference in the number of arena bands versus the number of stadium bands. Not every band can sell the number of tickets to play stadiums but many will play arenas,” he says.

“If arenas are not a spoke in the wheel, they’re the hub… a very important part of the touring world”

He goes on to emphasise the importance of arenas as a major employer in the music industry, as well as a substantial revenue source.

“Arenas have a huge amount of shows with a huge capacity of people coming through it. The shows demand a level of production and a budget which means we get to employ more people, and we get to give contracts to more companies. Essentially, arenas workhorse of the touring world. If arenas are not a spoke in the wheel, they’re the hub… a very important part of the touring world,” he concludes.

Rockhal CEO, Toth, ran with the analogy, adding that if arenas close for good, it’ll have a knock-on effect for the industry: “The different stakeholders in our industry are the spokes to that hub, helping it operate as a full wheel. If you take out that hub, obviously the spokes are not of any good use. It’s not about getting arenas back to business tomorrow or next week but it’s about starting to plan because we need six months–nine months to get started again.”

Speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on the live music industry, Live Nation Belgium CEO Schueremans, says: “We were in shock. A cultural industry that didn’t exist 45–50 years ago, that started from nothing and created a lot of jobs and VAT was going to be destroyed. As a live industry, we were not internationally well organised, even though we organise tours all over the world.”

“We need harmonised and co-ordinated Covid measures within the EU in order to have clarification”

MEP Semedo followed that point, emphasising the importance of pan-European co-ordination with the restart of European and international touring.

“We need harmonised and co-ordinated Covid measures within the EU in order to have clarification on whether artists and people can cross borders and whether they need to quarantine or not. There needs to be a one-stop-shop with conditions for artists, arenas and events, reducing the bureaucratic burden. It’s important that all actors in this cultural and creative industry work together,” she said, wrapping up the session.

Closing the event, Gordon Masson, editor of IQ Magazine, hosted a discussion with ARA co-founders: Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal in Luxembourg; Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust; the owners of The SSE Arena, Belfast; and Adrian Doyle, Board Member, EAA.

The event also featured addresses from a range of speakers including John Langford, EAA president; Tamas Szucs, director for culture and creativity at the European Commission and a keynote speech by Sam Tanson, minister of culture, Luxembourg.

Commenting after the event, Langford said: “Arenas play a crucial role in communities right across Europe. This event has opened important dialogue around why we need unified conditions that will allow music, culture and sports to return to arenas and enable arenas to reopen. We would like to thank our speakers for their valued contribution and for all of our industry colleagues for joining us. With continued discussion and collaboration, we will create a framework that will help us to rebuild these important industries.”

 


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EAA announces Arena Resilience Alliance conference

The Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), a special purpose group created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), will host a free virtual conference in December exploring the urgent need for the development of a pan-European strategy for the return to live events.

The conference, titled A Game of Two Halves, will take place on 8 December and focus on why ‘getting fit for purpose’ will be essential to bringing live music and sports events back to arenas and large-capacity venues across Europe, according to the association.

“This event will open important dialogue around why we need unified conditions that will allow music, culture and sports to return to arenas and arenas to re-open their doors for fans of live events,” comments John Langford, president of the EAA.

The virtual conference will address the essential role of arenas as the central hub of the live event ecosystem across Europe, and as key partners to those who organise, promote, play and perform, says the EAA. According to the newly formed ARA, venue closures this year have resulted in the loss of more than 35,000 indoor live events, representing over 113 million lost ticket sales.

Through the event, the ARA hopes to open dialogue with ministers, MEPs and European commissioners with the aim of developing a regulatory framework for the mandatory requirements and measures that enable venues to re-open and facilitate the return of live touring. “A single framework will facilitate business continuity, provide job security and protect the wellbeing of all citizens, employees, freelancers, third-party contractors, players, performers visitors and fans,” the EAA says.

A Game of Two Halves speakers will include Sam Tanson, minister of culture, Luxembourg; MEPs Tomasz Frankowski and Monica Semedo; Tamas Szucs, director of the European Commission’s directorate-general for education, youth, sport and culture; Jason Danter, production manager/director for artists such as Madonna, Lady Gaga and Iron Maiden; Adrian Doyle, board member, European Arenas Association; Ole Hertel, GM, Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin; Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust Company (owner of the SSE Arena, Belfast); Luca Scafati, director, business operations, Euroleague; Herman Schueremans, CEO, Live Nation Belgium; Szymon Szemberg, CEO, European Hockey Clubs Alliance; and Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal, Luxembourg.

“We are at a pivotal moment in terms of the planning needed to protect and rebuild the live events ecosystem across Europe”

The first session, focussing on sport, will be a discussion around ‘Aligning product and place: delivering a new fan experience.’ Following a short break, the focus will turn to live music and will explore ‘why a pan-European approach is crucial for live music’s return.’

Closing the event, Gordon Masson, editor of IQ Magazine, will host a fireside-style discussion with ARA co-founders, Oliver Toth and Robert Fitzpatrick.

“We are at a pivotal moment in terms of the planning needed to protect and rebuild the live events ecosystem across Europe,” explains Toth. “Through this special event, the ARA hopes to open important dialogue between the industry and key EU decision-makers to ensure we move forward with a single framework to facilitate the safe return of live events.”

Robert Fitzpatrick adds: “Arenas are central to the cultural fabric of countries throughout Europe and are a key player in the national and regional tourism ecosystem. Without them, event promoters, artists, indoor sports teams and a host of third-party service contractors are at risk of going out of business. The importance of wellbeing for all venue staff and stakeholders cannot be underestimated; our industry is on the precipice of a major mental health crisis.”

The ARA’s A Game of Two Halves virtual conference takes place on Tuesday 8 December 2020, from 14.00–16.30 CET (13.00–15.30 GMT), and is free to attend. The conference, hosted in collaboration with the European Arenas Association and IQ Magazine, will stream live on the EAA YouTube channel.

 


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