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EAA appoints Rockhal’s Olivier Toth as president

The European Arenas Association (EAA) has named Olivier Toth, CEO Rockhal Luxembourg, as president.

Toth succeeds AEG Europe’s John Langford who is stepping down after completing his two-year tenure.

“I can think of no better person to lead the EAA,” says outgoing president, Langford.

“Since joining the association, Olivier has been working tirelessly on behalf of the members to deliver the association’s goal of strengthening ties with the European Union and boosting the advocacy impact of the EAA at EU level.”

Toth, an EAA board member, is a co-founder of the EAA EU Subgroup which morphed into the Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA) during the Covid-19 pandemic to open dialogue with EU governing bodies.

“I am confident that the EAA and the ARA will work towards building a stronger and more unified European live sector”

“I am honoured to be appointed as the EAA’s next president and look forward to further developing and delivering the EAA’s realigned objectives and to continue to work closely with the EU on arena-related topics,” says Toth.

“Through the ARA, we have seen how arenas play a vital role as the hub of the live events ecosystem and how necessary it is to have a collective voice for our industry. I think we can all agree the world we are returning to is not the same one we left behind and I am confident that the EAA and its ARA subgroup will work towards building a stronger and more unified European live events sector.”

The EAA’s membership comprises 34 arenas in 20 European countries, including the 6,500-capacity Rockhal, based in Esch-sur-Alzette.

According to the association, which was founded in 1991, its member arenas host over 2,900 annual events attracting a total audience of 19 million people.

 


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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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Prepare for lift-off: IQ 97 marks the launch of ILMC 33

IQ 97, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

In March’s edition, IQ Magazine editor, Gordon Masson, assembles industry heavyweights including Sam Kirby Yoh (co-head of music, UTA), Toby Leighton-Pope (co-CEO of AEG Presents in the UK) and John Reid (Live Nation’s president of concerts in Europe) for an industry health check, 12 months into pandemic restrictions.

Elsewhere, with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) set to launch this Wednesday, readers and delegates can prepare for liftoff by previewing some of the products and services developers will be presenting (see ILMC Tech Spotlight), and earmarking the ones-to-watch at this year’s agency talent showcases (see Showcasing Talent).

Also in this issue, IQ hands the megaphone to Sybil Bell (Independent Venue Week), Mark Bennett (MBA Live) and Tone Østerdal (Norway’s Live Music Association) for comment pieces on what live is like from where they’re standing.

IQ hands the megaphone to Sybil Bell (IVW), Mark Bennett (MBA Live) and Tone Østerdal (Norway’s Live Association)

IQs top newshound Jon Chapple sniffs out what livestreaming pioneers are doing to prepare for post-Covid life (see Streaming’s Bright Future), while the Arena Resilience Alliance reveals its comprehensive manifesto for the safe return of live events.

And Rob Challice (Paradigm), John Giddings (Solo, Isle of Wight), Harvey Goldsmith and other industry pros reveal the most surprising person they met at a gig or added to a guest list in Your Shout.

All that is in addition to all the regular content you’ve come to expect from your monthly IQ Magazine, including news analysis and new agency signings, the majority of which will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

Whet your appetite with the preview below, but if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now and receive IQ 97 in full.

 


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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: “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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