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Ukraine biz: “No concerts until 2023, at best”

Executives from the Ukrainian live music business say that concerts – both international and domestic – will not take place until 2023 at the earliest.

International artists including Bring Me The Horizon, Imagine Dragons, Louis Tomlinson and Jethro Tull have already cancelled shows in Ukraine, in light of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its eastern European neighbour.

At the time of writing, major acts such as Iron Maiden, Billy Talent, Black Veil Brides, Pixies, Disclosure, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Roisin Murphy, King Krule, Elderbrook, The Neighbourhood and Pete Doherty still have Ukraine concerts planned, though local promoters are doubtful whether they’ll take place.

Ihor Samosud, COO at promoter Virus Music – which owns Ukraine’s largest ticket seller Concert.UA and Kyiv concert venue Bel Etage Music Hall (cap. 1,000) – says there were “hundreds” of international shows scheduled in the next two years but “everything is now cancelled or postponed until 2023 at best”.

“We were looking forward to Iron Maiden’s first visit to Ukraine (promoted by Virus Music) and the second visit of Imagine Dragons (for which Concert.UA is the exclusive ticket seller), who are a favourite in Ukraine,” Samosud tells IQ.

According to Samosud, the company is currently helping clients and promoters communicate with ticket buyers until money can be refunded for cancelled shows.

Continuing a trend that started in the pandemic, the firm is also enabling clients and promoters to offer ticket vouchers as an alternative to cash refunds.

Samosud says he hopes this will help soften the financial blow for promoters, who were already out of pocket due to the pandemic.

“All Ukrainian promoters already have large financial losses associated with cancellations,” he says. “And this process will continue for a long time. Even after the end of the war, we will need a lot of time to restore our industry.”

Sergii Maletskyi, general manager and talent buyer at Kyiv-based promoter H2D, also believes that shows in Ukraine will be cancelled or postponed until 2023 and that many announcements are yet to come.

“I’ve said to all management not to make cancellations public at this stage because it will cause panic and we don’t need it at the moment,” he told IQ yesterday. “I’ve asked them to give us a week or two to focus on our safety. After that, we will be ready to manage cancellations, postponements and everything else.”

The conflict will not just impact shows in venues, with a summer schedule of outdoor events on sale across the country. Atlas Weekend, the largest festival in Eastern Europe, is due to take place in July at Kyiv’s Expocenter with headliners Twenty One Pilots, Placebo and Alt-J.

While Upark, scheduled for June and July at Sky Family Park in Kyiv, had previously confirmed a raft of western acts including Pendulum, Sum 41, My Chemical Romance, Gorillaz, Deftones, Iggy Pop, Slipknot and Frank Carter.

Venues, however, have been quick to post messages on social media, announcing closure until further notice, as well as information for ticket holders.

Caribbean Club, in Kyiv, posted on Facebook: “Due to the military invasion in Ukraine, we temporarily suspend work. We hope to return to normal life as soon as possible and our warm meetings at the Caribbean Club.”

Bel Etage Music Hall, also in the capital, posted on Facebook: “War. All concerts and events are postponed until victory. The tickets are valid. Glory to Ukraine!”

Though stages in Ukraine have fallen quiet, a number of venues are devoting time and resources to the military.

Arena Lviv, a 34,000-capacity stadium in western Ukraine, has tasked its catering team with cooking food for the country’s troops and have already prepared and delivered more than 2,000 dinners.

The stadium has also opened a centre for migrants who have fled their homes and need assistance finding a temporary residence.

 


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