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Outdoor events in Barcelona avoid renewed ban

Festival organisers, concert promoters and venue operators in Barcelona have managed to overturn new regulations that would have forced all events and venues to close down again amid an increase in Covid-19 cases.

Due to a recent spike in cases, Catalonian health minister Alba Vergés urged residents on Friday (18 July) to stay at home for the next 15 days and only go out to buy food, go to work or for health reasons. The government also announced that cinemas, theatres and nightclubs would once again be forced to close, with gatherings of over ten people banned.

The reintroduction of more stringent measures in the metropolitan area of Barcelona and in the province of Lleida follows previous stay-at-home orders that affected around 400,000 Catalans earlier this month.

In response to the announcement, representatives from Barcelona festivals including Festival Cruïlla, Festival Pedralbes and Grec Festival, as well as the the association of Catalan venues (Asociación de Salas de Conciertos de Cataluña – Assac), took to social media using the hashtag #CulturaEsSegura (Culture is safe) to protest the re-closing of venues and festivals throughout the region.

“95% of Asacc venues have been closed since March, with no programming scheduled due to the uncertainty of reopening dates. The few that have opened have done so with minimal capacities for musical performances,” reads a post on the Asacc Twitter page.

“We cannot place the responsibility of new outbreaks on venues and not keep track of street gatherings, raves, private parties and beach bars. Enough stigmatising of clubs, music and culture!

“Venues are not the origin of new outbreaks.”

Following the complaints, Catalan civil protection society Procicat (El Pla territorial de protecció civil de Catalunya) posted new guidelines, approving the carrying out of cultural events in “exceptional circumstances”.

“Venues are not the origin of new outbreaks”

According to the guidance, events in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia are still permitted to go ahead provided they are in remote areas; take place outdoors; have previously been assessed and approved by Procicat; maintain social distancing; implement track and tracing systems; and take extra hygiene precautions.

It is also noted that organisers must be willing “to make maximum capacity requirements more flexible, if the health authorities require more restricted conditions.”

The exceptions allow for the Cruïlla XXS shows, over 200 open-air events organised by the Cruïlla Festival team, to go ahead this month, along with performances by Van Morrison, Diana Navarro and Paco Ibanez, as part of Fes Pedralbes. Barcelona’s Grec Festival is also taking place, with a programme of dance, theatre and music.

The Sala Barcelona concert series, which is taking place in the grounds of the Montjuïc Castle, has also been given the green light to host performances over the coming weeks. Upcoming concerts at the venue include DJs Ikram Bouloum and Santa Marts, pop band Los Retrovisores, folk group River Omelet and film score composer Niño de Elche.

However, the new restrictions saw the team at Barcelona festival Primavera Sound cancel the next two weeks of its Nits del Fórum series due to “the uncertainty provoked by contradictory recommendations and restrictions”.

“Despite complying with all the required safety requirements, despite being a concert series lauded by the authorities and despite the warm welcome received from fans over the past few weeks, Nits del Fórum has decided to take a break,” reads a Primavera Sound statement.

Organisers state they have voluntarily suspended activity until 31 July, in anticipation of “a clearer and more definite framework of limitations and recommendations for all”.

All affected concerts will be reprogrammed for new dates.

Elsewhere in Spain, outdoor events with up to 800 people are permitted, with concert series promoted by Live Nation and the Music Republic, as well as shows at the Wizink Center and Ifema exhibition centre taking place over the coming weeks.


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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Experts warn GMVs need support as German gov steps up

Grassroots venues lobbyists came together in the latest IQ Focus panel to discuss the government aid the sector desperately needs and why social distancing can never work.

Available to watch back now on the IQ website, as well as on Facebook and YouTube, the session featured Ticktemaster’s Sarah Slater in conversation with the Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd, the National Independent Venue Association’s Rev. Moose, LiveKomm’s Karsten Schölermann, Dachstock’s Kathy Flück and Lluís Torrents of Catalonian venue association Asacc.

Schölermann proved the envy of the panel – and those watching – upon revealing that the German government has dedicated €50 million to help grassroots music venues (GMVs) – enough money to prop up the sector for a year, part of a wider €150m live music support package.

“From our point of view, the german government has done well,” said Schölermann. “Now we just need to figure out how to use that money to reopen after such an intense set back.”

Davyd, who has so far raised over £1.5m (€1.7m) with MVT’s Save Our Venues campaign says this kind of sector-specific support is what GMVs in the UK need. MVT has calculated that sector has received £35m (€39m) so far from general government support packages, but has so far lost £48m.

“Now we just need to figure out how to use that money to reopen after such an intense set back”

“We need to get to a point where the government can deal with sectors specifically,” said Davyd.

For Torrents, the government’s underappreciation of live music as a cultural force is the main obstacle, whereas Flück also appeared dissatisfied with the Swiss government’s support, saying the “responsibility is very much on [event] organisers” to figure out how to survive the crisis and reopen safely.

In the United States, the grassroots sector had no representative body until very recently. “In a time of crisis, it was obvious that there was no one fighting on indie venues behalf,” said Moose, who co-founded the US National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) in April.

Starting the conversation around small venues has been easy, but urgent action still needs to be taken in the US, said Moose.

“If we can’t get the assistance to get through this period, the market is going to shift in a significant way.”

Venues reopening under social distancing measures was ruled out by the panellists, with Davyd saying that, in the UK, only 2 to 3% of venues could open under the two metre distancing rules, “and they would be hemorrhaging money doing so”.

“If we can’t get the assistance to get through this period, the market is going to shift in a significant way”

Torrents, who is the co-director of Barcelona venue Razzmatazz agrees that any form of social distancing is a “temporary and exceptional situation”.

“In the long term, we will recover the true normal. [Going to venues] should be a social activity, we cannot apply social distancing measures to this,” said Torrents, pointing out the oxymoronic nature of the very phrase “social distancing”.

“We should resist until we can open with a minimum of 60 to 70% capacity, but never less.”

Schölermann discussed alternatives way for venues to reopen such as putting on matinee shows, with multiple, short concerts being played throughout a day and, potentially, venues being open for 24 hours to make up numbers.

Venues will have to use space better, he said, suggesting the reappropriation of outdoor spaces such as car parks for staging shows.

“We can and will find out how to survive.”

“We should resist until we can open with a minimum of 60 to 70% capacity, but never less”

For Davyd, a kind of on-the-door testing system would allow GMVs to open at full capacity, with the knowledge that no-one at the show had the virus.

“If I was in government, that’s what I’d be focused on – testing.”

In times of crisis, there are some positives to draw. Moose noted that those who “are typically somewhat adversarial are now working towards the same goals”, with the result that the whole industry is now more prepared to address its problems.

Davyd added that the importance of the sector has really come to light for all in recent months.

“Maybe this is an opportunity to shake things up and reimagine how we respect the value of GMVs in society and also within government.”

The next IQ Focus session, The Agency Business 3.0, is taking place on Thursday 11 June at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, with panellists Angus Baskerville (13 Artists), Jules de Lattre (UTA), Maria May (CAA) and Tom Schroeder (Paradigm).

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.


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Stronger together

Live DMA now covers 17 live music associations in 13 countries, representing more than 2,500 music venues and festivals. Based on exchange of experience and best practice, the network is an arena for members to meet and derive support from each other in order to share a vision of the music sector, and to affirm their social and cultural role in society. This collaborative network enables members to utilise our activities, highlighting their own experience and best practices, building skills and participating in Live DMA’s strategic decisions. They also meet informally to create new collaborations, separate from Live DMA’s co-ordination. This assures us that Live DMA, as an international co-operation project, is successful.

One of Live DMA’s primary achievements was the 2012 implementation of the Survey, which enabled members to share data about music venues’ activities, employment and finances. This essential project supports to define us; as the members own the production of data, we have built a relationship of trust with them. Live DMA provides a survey co-ordinator who helps each referent by gathering data and presenting the results all around Europe.

From 2013 to 2015, during the network’s Musication and Lighthouses projects, bookers, managers and communication officers asked how they could engage audiences; connect music and education; build a qualitative programme; and develop new business models. In 2016 and 2017, Live DMA co-organised the International Congress for Concert Venues with its members ACCES and ASACC during Primavera Pro in Barcelona. Among the topics discussed were city development, nightlife, relationships with neighbours, youth audiences, sound-level regulation, sustainable development, and amateur status. Live DMA was then able to identify and present the main challenges for the live music sector in Europe.

In June 2017, the Creative Europe programme officially recognised Live DMA as a network and granted it development funding. Under the heading Live Style Europe (LSE), we aim to empower music venues and festivals to adapt more easily to the evolution of the live music sector.

Our first working group session, on music venues’ value to local authorities, took place in Berlin during the nightlife conference Stadt Nach Acht, and the second session on audience engagement took place place in Rennes, France, during the Rencontres Transmusicales festival in December.

In 2018, Live DMA will launch an online resource platform, including a pool of expertise and a blog of best practices

To reduce gaps and fragmentation, LSE provides equal resources and tools for the live sector to develop in terms of regulation and legislation. In 2018, Live DMA will launch an online resource platform, including a pool of expertise and a blog of best practices.

In several European countries, especially in eastern and southern Europe, music venues and festivals have no support associations. LSE aims to structure the live music sector in these countries with the expertise of other Live DMA members.

Finally, Live DMA is proud to present the first European edition of Open Club Day. On 3 February, 2018, live music venues all over Europe opened their doors to an audience that might not be familiar with live music activities. Open Club Day aims to demonstrate to people living in the vicinity of a venue, and policy makers, the reality of the work involved in running a live music venue. By highlighting the daily activities undertaken by music venues, Open Club Day offers the right circumstances for a constructive exchange that can help to clear up negative stereotypes that are so often cultivated around music venues and nightlife. The activities undertaken by live music venues go way beyond live music programming. Just 17% of Live DMA member venues exclusively devote their activities to live music programming; 56% also engage in social and educational activities; and 47% provide equipment and rehearsal space for musicians. The live music sector contributes significantly to society by giving everybody the opportunity to take part in a collective adventure. In 2015, over 81,000 people shared their passion for music by their voluntary engagement in music venues. By joining forces, co-operative projects such as Open Club Day can have a real impact on the recognition of music venues as significant contributors to culture.

According to Isabelle von Walterskirchen, co-president of Live DMA, “Getting… insight into the complexity of providing live music in a grassroots venue is truly surprising to the outsider. Feeling the professionalism and passion of the crew is highly touching. Opening the venue to parents, neighbours, and nightlife critics helps change prejudicial thinking into a relationship of respect and trust. It supports the realisation of the cultural, social and economical value of live music venues.”


Audrey Guerre is head of coordination for Live DMA.