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German biz calls for clarity on Covid winter plan

Germany’s events business is calling for clarity on the government’s Covid containment plans for the autumn and winter period.

The Event Management Forum (EMF), which includes the BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry) and venue association LiveKomm (LiveMusikKommission), has welcomed recommendations drawn up in preparation for potential developments with the pandemic.

According to Die Welt, plans reportedly under discussion include considerations for masks to be made compulsory in all indoor public spaces during the winter months.

However, the EMF expresses frustration at the authorities’ continued reluctance to engage directly with the industry, and the lack of aid measures planned for the sector should a worse-case scenario emerge in the coming months, leading to the re-introduction of social distancing measures and capacity restrictions at concerts.

“Organisers don’t plan tours overnight and must therefore be able to anticipate the feasibility of their events in order to avoid damage,” says Axel Ballreich, chair of LiveKomm.

“Ticket sales for cultural events are already going extremely poorly because the audience first wants to wait and see whether events”

Having previously reported weak advance sales for shows planned for autumn 2022 and spring 2023 due to low consumer confidence, BDKV president Jens Michow reiterates the market is still plagued by uncertainty.

“Ticket sales for cultural events are already going extremely poorly because the audience first wants to wait and see whether events are taking place reliably,” says Michow. “Added to that, many fear the risk of infection or have changed their leisure behaviour due to the crisis.

“Also, the price increases that have taken place in all areas and the uncertainty as to what effects the war in Ukraine in the coming months will have is causing German people to limit their spending on leisure time.”

 


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German live industry blasts WHO’s monkeypox claim

Germany’s Event Management Forum has accused the World Health Organisation (WHO) of scaremongering over claims that summer festivals could be super-spreader events for Monkeypox.

The WHO warned earlier this week that Europe is at the epicentre of the “largest and most geographically widespread monkeypox outbreak ever reported” outside western and central Africa.

The virus spreads can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person, with Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, saying reports to date indicated the current outbreak is being spread “largely through sexual activity”.

“Over the coming months, many of the dozens of festivals and large parties planned provide further contexts where amplification may occur,” he added. “But they also provide powerful opportunities to engage with young, sexually active and globally mobile persons to raise awareness and strengthen individual and community protection.”

“Many people are still afraid of becoming infected with coronavirus at events. This fear is fuelled by the WHO statement without any solid basis”

But the statement has been met with an angry response from the EMF – the umbrella group bringing together the BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry), venue association LiveKomm, independent suppliers’ organisation ISDV, pro-AV group VPLT and the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC).

The organisation has blasted the WHO’s claim as “irresponsible fear-mongering”, amid concerns it could impact the organisation’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Under difficult conditions, the event industry is trying to be able to hold events again reasonably economically after a two-year forced break,” says the EMF. “They suffer considerably from the fact that many people are still afraid of becoming infected with the coronavirus at events. This fear is fuelled by the WHO statement without any solid basis.

“According to the RKI [public health institute] and Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach and many other experts, the disease is difficult to transmit from person to person,” it says. “The virus is therefore in no way comparable to the risk of infection from the coronavirus.”

“People don’t only come together closely at major events and festivals”

The EMF notes that just 33 cases of monkeypox have been detected so far in Germany.

“People don’t only come together closely at major events and festivals, but also in the outdoor pool, in the fitness centre, on public transport, on the plane and in many other places,” adds EVVC MD Timo Feuerbach. “To warn of an increased risk of infection at festivals from ‘sexually active people’ is completely inappropriate.”

Live music promoters in Germany have previously reported sluggish ticket sales despite the lifting of Covid restrictions. BDKV president Jens Michow said last month that advance sales for shows planned for autumn 2022 and spring 2023 were weak, exacerbated by staffing shortages and an oversupply of events.

 


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Germany’s live biz says Freedom Day ‘not in sight’

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) has warned of the challenges still facing the live music sector despite parliament voting to scrap most Covid restrictions.

Last month, the country confirmed a gradual approach to reopening, amid falling infection numbers. Limits on major outdoor events were raised from 10,000 to 25,000 (or 75% capacity) on 4 March, and clubs were allowed to reopen, with full capacity shows permitted from this Sunday’s much-trumpeted “Freedom Day”.

Though cases have since surged to record levels, with 297,845 new coronavirus cases and 226 deaths reported over the last 24 hours according to the Robert Koch Institute, lawmakers backed an amendment to the Infection Protection Act, which removes the need to wear face masks in most public settings.

“We can’t continue to put the entire country under a shield in order to protect a small group of people who are unwilling to get vaccinated,” said health minister Karl Lauterbach. “The balance is being shifted.”

However, the EMF, which includes live music bodies BDKV and LiveKomm, has raised concerns that, due to high case numbers, several federal states have announced they plan to maintain Covid restrictions even after the transition period ends on 2 April, and have the power to impose “hot-spot regulations” to deal with future outbreaks.

“The patchwork of measures is thus growing,” it says. “In addition, the regulations are limited until 23 September 2022 and dealing with a further wave in autumn is completely open.”

“The uncertainty remains as to what will happen in autumn”

Marcus Pohl, chair of the ISDV, the trade body for the event industry’s independent service providers, says the plans lack long-term perspective.

“If no further changes are made to the version of the present draft law to amend the Infection Protection Act, a return to normality is not in sight,” he says.

“Even if events will be possible in many places in the coming months and, for example, the clubs can govern at short notice, the uncertainty remains as to what will happen in autumn,” says LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich, who is calling on the government to name a specific point of contact to restart a dialogue with the sector.

The organisation is also proposing the implementation of a nationwide, tiered process to protect against infection going forward.

“In the first step, an FFP2 mask requirement may be sufficient,” it says. “In a second stage, it must be possible that only 2G or 2G plus visitors, for example, are allowed access to the event. In the next step, a restriction to 3G and a seat plus mask in the aisles can represent the next higher measure without capping capacity.

“Only when the infection has exceeded a hospitalisation rate to be defined should a distance requirement be imposed. In this case, however, an economic aid must be granted for all types of events. In addition, there needs to be a clear, nationwide regulation on the required vaccination status for participants and guests of events arriving from abroad.”

“Events with capacity restrictions have not been economical in the past two years and will not be able to be so in the future either,” reiterates BDKV president Prof Jens Michow reiterated . “You cannot generate 100% costs with an income possibility of 75%.”

 


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OVG boycotts Russia, trade bodies condemn attacks

Global sports and entertainment giant Oak View Group (OVG) has announced it is boycotting Russia amid widespread outrage over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UN estimates that more than 500,000 refugees have fled from Ukraine into neighbouring countries. Over 100 people, including children, are said to have been killed as heavy fighting continues in major cities.

OVG’s Climate Pledge Arena lit up Seattle Center in the colours of the Ukrainian flag in a gesture of support for #StandWithUkraine.

“In light of the tragic conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, Oak View Group has pledged to not do business in or with Russia, nor will we serve Russian brands in any of our venues on a global basis, effective immediately,” says a company statement. “We stand with the people of Ukraine, we condemn the actions of Russia, and we hope our stance inspires others in our industry to take action where they can.”

A number of European live music trade bodies have also spoken out in condemnation of Russia’s actions.

“We are shocked by this military invasion and will do everything we can to show our solidarity with the Ukranian people”

Germany’s Event Management Forum, which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, denounced the “illegal and barbaric attacks on Ukraine by Vladimir Putin and his regime, which violates international law”.

“We are shocked by this military invasion and will do everything we can to show our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to support them in their fight against this injustice,” says BDKV Pascal Funke.

The body is currently working on organising a benefit concert for Ukraine, the proceeds of which will be donated to the International Aid Fund for Culture and Education.

“By performing this task, we hope to be able to make a small contribution to the return of peace and freedom to the people of both Ukraine and Russia,” says Jens Michow, executive president of the BDKV.

Slovakia’s biggest festival Pohoda (Peace) held a concert yesterday (27 February) to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Featuring more than 20 artists, the ‘Concert for Ukraine’ took place in Bratislava’s Main Square.

“Sadly, in 2022, we still need to deal with tyranny, oppression and other types of aggression to democracy and freedom”

Pan-European festival association Yourope has expressed solidarity “with those who suffer from and disagree with this terrible aggression”.

“We have always strived to achieve the best together because we are convinced that only cooperation and exchange makes us stronger,” it says. “A healthy and vivid society depends on awareness and tolerance for all cultures, genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, colours and origins. We all should be the ambassadors of hope, respect and peaceful dialogue every day to make the world a better place for every single individual and for all of us.”

Why Portugal added: “There’s no room for aggression in every corner of the world. Sadly, in 2022, we still need to deal with tyranny, oppression and other types of aggression to democracy and freedom. In a world where borders should be diminished, it makes no sense to observe such an attack that Russia is undertaking towards Ukraine.

“We, within this community, must be focused on progression towards a much brighter future – not only in the creative and music industries but the entire ecosystem that surrounds us. We fully condemn these actions. In any circumstance, especially as we’re yet recovering from the economical effects of Covid-19, we can’t accept what’s happening.

“The Portuguese Music Export Office (Why Portugal) demonstrate full solidarity and support to our fellow colleagues from Ukraine: musicians, labels, the Music Export Ukraine, and the overall music industry in the country. Actions should be louder than a thousand words, so that’s why we’re completely open to supporting all Ukrainian musicians based in Portugal at the moment.”

 


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German live business demands end to restrictions

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) is pleading for the government to follow the lead of other European nations and drop all Covid restrictions.

At the start of February, Denmark became the first country in the EU to announce it was ending all coronavirus measures and no longer classifying Covid-19 as a socially dangerous disease. Sweden will followed suit from tomorrow (9 February) and Finland will relax curbs from next week.

England’s Plan B measures, which included a mandate for facemasks and vaccine passports (or a negative LFT) at concerts, were also dropped in January and other UK markets have been rolling back restrictions.

However, Germany currently only allows up to 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events, and up to 4,000 participants in indoor spaces. Masks must be worn, and proof of vaccination or recovery, as well as a booster shot or negative test status (depending on the state) will also be required. Events that do not qualify as national major events with over 2,000 spectators still fall under state-specific rules.

“The corona rules are being relaxed not only in most of the neighbouring European countries, but also in the federal states,” says Prof Jens Michow, president of live music association BDKV. “The mask requirement has been abolished and distance rules no longer exist. It is high time that this finally happened across the country without restrictions.”

“The fact that there is still no binding exit strategy that enables organisers to plan reliably is no longer acceptable”

The BDKV is part of the EMF alliance, which consists of five major organisations including fellow live music trade body LiveKomm.

“We have respected and fully implemented all containment measures since the beginning of the pandemic,” adds Michow. “However, the fact that there is still no binding exit strategy that enables organisers to plan reliably is no longer acceptable. We call on the federal government to take appropriate decisions immediately.”

Axel Ballreich, first chairman of Livekomm, adds that the industry is no longer alone in calling for measures to be axed.

“An increasing number of doctors and politicians are also calling for an end to the containment measures,” he says. “Limiting indoor events to 1,000 and open air events to 10,000 people is really no longer comprehensible.”

The German events business has welcomed a mooted extension to the short-term work allowance – which provides partial compensation for loss of earnings due to the pandemic – from late March until the end of June, but warns that is not enough for the industry.

“Despite considerable aid, the industry is increasingly bleeding out economically. Aid is being reclaimed, deferred taxes are already being made due by the tax authorities, although the situation in the industry has actually deteriorated in the meantime,” adds Marcus Pohl, first chairman of the interest group of independent service providers in the event industry (ISDV). “We must be allowed to work without restrictions again, otherwise we will lose an important branch of the economy that was still one of the top markets in the world in 2019. There must finally be a functioning restart for us too.”

 

 


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German events biz warns of staffing exodus

The German events business has warned the industry faces a fresh round of layoffs without an extension to the short-term work allowance.

The allowance has provided partial compensation for loss of earnings due to the pandemic, but has only been extended to 31 March by the federal government, with employers able to claim just 50% reimbursement of social security contributions.

Trade bodies including the Event Management Forum (EMF), which comprises five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, say the move would lead to a further exodus of skilled workers, making it “impossible” to restart the business.

“Companies are no longer able to finance salaries on their own”

“Our industry is economically hardest hit by the containment measures,” says Marcus Pohl, first chairman of independent events trade body ISDV. “Due to the now agreed term until the end of March, the last employees who have remained loyal to the industry will have to be terminated.

“Due to the lack of any possibility of generating income and the resulting decline in sales of more than 80%, companies are no longer able to finance salaries on their own.”

With no sign of a reopening date, the industry remains dependent on government aid measures. The EMF presented a series of demands to government last month, amid concerns no major tours will be able to take place in the first half of 2022.

“The further extension of the short-time allowance and the assumption of 100% of the social costs incurred during short-time work is currently the most urgently requested measure by all companies,” adds BDKV president Jens Michow.

Germany’s €2.5 billion event cancellation fund has ‘hardly been used’ so far, according to a report published last week. The government-backed insurance pot, announced in December 2020, was introduced to enable event organisers to plan for Q3 and Q4 2021 without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.

However, the report notes it is expected “that the number and volume of applications will increase significantly in the coming weeks and months because events are being avoided or increasingly cancelled in the current pandemic situation”.

 


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German event alliance pleads for government talks

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) is urging the government to meet with music industry representatives before imposing new restrictions on the industry as the country battles a fourth wave of Covid.

Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel called Germany’s current coronavirus situation “dramatic”, with a range of fresh measures to combat the surge due to be proposed tomorrow (18 November).

The EMF alliance, which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, is pleading for “proportionality” with regards to the new regulations, arguing that live events have been unfairly singled out in the past.

“In view of the current development of the corona pandemic, companies in the event industry are facing the same dilemma as last year,” the organisation says in a statement. “The Event Management Forum therefore calls on the managing government, those involved in the coalition negotiations and, above all, the federal states to maintain proportionality when issuing new regulations and to meet immediately with the representatives of the industry to discuss the necessary measures.”

By the end of 2021, the loss in sales will add up to at least €8.5bn

A total of 67% of German citizens are fully vaccinated – lower than the average for Western Europe, and new Covid infections have risen by a third in the last week, according to the latest data.

Prior to the latest outbreak, German event leaders had called for all remaining Covid restrictions to be lifted by a 1 December “Freedom Day” at the latest.

BDKV chief Jens Michow says the most recent market study by the Federal Association of the Event Industry showed around €5 billion was generated by the live events industry alone in 2017 from the sale of over 113 million tickets. Michow lays bare the stark financial impact of the pandemic on the business.

“In the 20 months of actual lockdown, the loss of sales for concert, tour and festival organisers alone was around €3.5 billion by the end of last year,” he says. “By the end of 2021, the loss in sales will add up to at least €8.5bn.

“In addition, there are the significant effects on cities and municipalities, for example, through music tourism and the loss of income of the large number of self-employed people who are dependent on the event business.

“The loss of sales of business events such as trade fairs, conferences and business events even amount to around €81bn.”


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Hamburg venues allowed to ban unvaccinated fans

Promoters and venues in Hamburg can soon ban unvaccinated people from attending events, in order to do away with social distancing and increase capacity limits.

Germany on Monday (23 August) moved to a uniform Covid health pass system which allows entry to many public spaces only to people who’ve been vaccinated (geimpft), have recovered from Covid (gensesen) or have been tested against Covid (getestet) – otherwise known as the 3G model.

But on Tuesday (24 August), the Hamburg senate announced that, from Saturday 28 August, it will introduce a ‘2G-option model’ for event organisers and business owners in the federal state.

This means they can allow entry exclusively to people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid within the last six months. The employees of the cultural institutions also have to be vaccinated at 2G events.

Organisers who implement the 2G model will be allowed to increase the number of attendees to 1,300 for indoor events and 2,000 for outdoor.

In addition, organisers and attendees of 2G events will not need to adhere to certain Covid regulations such as social distancing. However, masks will remain compulsory in all indoor settings.

Organisers who implement the 2G model will be allowed to increase the number of attendees to 1,300 indoorand 2,000 outdoor

The senate says operators will face fines of up to €20,000 if they do not check for proof of vaccination or recovery (or a negative test if it’s a 3G event), in conjunction with photo ID.

Organisers can also opt for the 3G model but if they do, they will have to follow previous Covid restrictions, such as capacity restrictions.

The 2G or 3G option is aimed at music venues, theatres, cinemas, trade fair operators, restaurants, hotels, swimming pools and fitness studios, among other businesses.

Organisers of sporting events with visitors, public festivals or educational courses should also be able to exclude unvaccinated people if they want to, says the Hamburg senate.

The only exceptions to the 2G rule will apply to children and young people. All under-18s will be allowed to attend 2G events without full vaccination for a grace period.

“Restrictions must be proportionate and may only apply for as long as they are necessary to combat the pandemic”

For 12 to 18-year-olds, who have been urged to get vaccinated, the transitional period will expire in six weeks. For children under 12, for whom no vaccine has been approved, it will continue to apply.

A spokesperson for the Hamburg senate says there are no exceptions for people who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons because they “are generally at high risk of infection and should avoid crowds”.

Hamburg’s first mayor, Peter Tschentscher, says: “Restrictions must be proportionate and may only apply for as long as they are necessary to combat the pandemic.”

However, the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) argues that the 2G model alone is not a “viable solution” as the industry cannot afford to “do without almost half of its clientele”.

The association has proposed a variation of the model – ‘2G+PCR’ – which would also allow entry to those who show a negative PCR test – a more reliable, but expensive and time-consuming, option than rapid testing.

BDKV is now urging the government to implement its suggested model in order to do away with capacity restrictions nationwide.

 


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Germany finally launches €2.5bn fund for culture

The federal cabinet of the German government has finally launched a fund of €2.5 billion dedicated to supporting cultural events. Details of the fund, first announced last December, were spelt out during a joint press conference held yesterday (26 May) by Olaf Scholz, minister of finance, and Monika Grütters, minister of state for culture and media.

Divided in two supporting strands, the special fund should enable concerts, theatre performances, cinema shows and other cultural events to start up again. At €1.9bn, the biggest tranche is dedicated to compensating financial losses for live events held under capacity in order to meet Covid-19 restrictions. A further €600 million is allocated for an insurance fund to cover losses incurred by the cancellation of events and shows which are called off due to the pandemic.

Scholz, in his position as minister of finance, is the main originator of the fund. Politically this is a notable move, as the development of such a tailor-made measure would usually be the responsibility of either the state ministry for culture or the ministry of economic affairs.

In fact, political manoeuvring behind the scenes is one of the reasons why it took so long for the fund to be officially launched. Finally, after the intervention of the Federal Chancellery, it is Monika Grütters who now takes the lead on a steering committee for the fund. The administration and financial handling of the fund has been transferred towards the culture ministries of the German states.

While the main terms and conditions of the core elements of the fund are already defined and agreed, there are some minor details still under development.

From September onwards, promoters of events with more than 2,000 visitors are able to access the insurance element of the special fund

The biggest chunk is dedicated to providing economic aid for promoters in the cultural sector. This tool is expected to be launched from July onwards and last until the end of the year. Starting first with events up to a capacity of 500 people, promoters can apply to receive compensation for unsold tickets when the number of attendees is reduced by at least 20% due to pandemic restrictions. For each ticket sold, the organisers receive the same ticket price again as a subsidy.

From the beginning of August, promoters of events up to 2,000 people are also eligible to benefit from the fund. In the case of very strict hygiene requirements and a limit on the number of participants up to 25% of maximum capacity, the subsidy may increase to the amount of twice the ticket revenue. However, the subsidy is limited to €100,000 per event.

From September onwards, promoters of events with more than 2,000 visitors are able to access the insurance element of the special fund. In the case of a cancellation, a reduction in the number of participants, or a postponement of the show due to the pandemic, the cancellation fund will cover a maximum of 80% of the cancellation costs incurred. The maximum amount of compensation is €8m per event.

Promoters are asked to register their events upfront on a central online portal, which will be created operated by official sources in Hamburg. A central help desk for information and consultation will be located in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Closely involved in previous consultations regarding the development of the fund have been, among others, Dr Carsten Brosda, senator for culture in Hamburg; Wolfgang Schmidt, state secretary in the ministry of finance; Alexander Schulz, managing director of Reeperbahn Festival; and Stephan Thanscheidt, CEO of FKP Scorpio and board member of the German promoters’ association, BDKV.

 


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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German associations react to gov’s vaccine promise

The German event industry is calling for an autumn restart following chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise of a Covid-19 vaccine for all residents by 21 September 2021.

The Event Management Forum, which unites Germany’s five events industry associations, has written an open letter to the federal chancellor to ask for a full return to live events on the same date.

“If events after 21 September are made dependent on attendees showing a vaccination certificate, it is not clear to the Forum what should stop a 100% opening of German venues from 21 September,” the letter reads.

“It is not clear to the Forum what should stop a 100% opening of German venues from 21 September”

“Most organisers have relocated their events for the third time since March 2020, which are already on sale for the autumn of this year. If these events could again only be carried out with social distancing rules and thus only uneconomically, the companies will not survive even with the various generous offers of help.”

The Forum reminds the chancellor that she was presented with its Manifest Restart proposal at the beginning of February, ‘under which a gradual and safe reopening of events should be possible before 21 September’.

September is also when Germany’s delayed €2.5 billion event cancellation scheme is due to start, though IQ understands that the industry is pessimistic about the commencement in the midst of September elections.

 


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