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Belgium PM: Indoor events could return in autumn

Large indoor events should be able to take place in Belgium this September, provided residents are “motivated” to get vaccinated, according to prime minister Alexander De Croo.

Belgium’s vaccination campaign has been relatively successful so far, with almost 70% of the total population having received one jab and more than 50% receiving two doses, according to Our World in Data.

“It remains a bit uncertain, but if you look at how fast our vaccination rollout is going, then by the beginning of September, those who should be fully vaccinated will be and so far, there is no reason to believe that the protection would not be good, so in autumn, those kinds of concerts and events where you are standing close to other people should be possible,” De Croo told Studio Brussels.

The statement follows the announcement that Pukkelpop – the last remaining major international music festival in Belgium following the cancellation last month of Tomorrowland – will not take place again this year.

“Multi-day festivals are more difficult, especially if you have a young audience [who] have not yet been fully vaccinated”

The cancellation was a result of new government regulations that would have required the festival to almost triple its on-site testing capacity with less than a month to go until gates open.

“Multi-day festivals are more difficult, especially if you have a young audience. Many 16-year-olds, for example, have not yet been fully vaccinated,” De Croo said.

The full reopening of Belgium’s live music sector will be facilitated by the Covid Safe Ticket (CTS), which was announced last week.

The domestic health pass, which will certify the Covid-19 status of attendees to major entertainment and sports events, will apply to outdoor events from 13 August and indoor events from 1 September.

The CTS eliminates the need for social distancing, promoters must implement a crowd management plan, as well as ensuring adequate ventilation (in the case of indoor shows) which is measured by a CO2 meter, according to the Belgian government.

 


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“Our heart bleeds”: Belgian government axes Pukkelpop 2021

There will be no Pukkelpop this year after all, the festival announced today, as a result of new government regulations that would have required it to almost triple its on-site testing capacity with less than a month to go until gates open.

Pukkelpop – the last remaining major international music festival in Belgium following the cancellation last month of Tomorrowland – has been told by the Belgian federal government it may not proceed this year its current form, according to a statement from organisers. The 66,000-cap. festival would have taken place near Hasselt between 19 and 22 August with artists including Liam Gallagher, Editors, Future, Anne-Marie and Marshmello.

Amid ongoing uncertainty over the political situation, the festival suspended ticket sales and halted its build yesterday before confirming its cancellation this afternoon (23 July).

“The current framework has made it impossible for us to organise Pukkelpop,” say organisers. “The additional demands in terms of testing would require us to almost triple the testing capacity at and in the run-up to the festival.”

The festival has initially planned for a daily Covid-19 testing capacity of 7,000. However, recent changes in the minimum time for festivalgoers to take rapid antigen (lateral-flow) and PCR tests ahead of the event, announced by the Belgian government on Monday, have finally rendered Pukkelpop 2021 unfeasible, the statement continues.

“The government finds itself in an unenviable position and so do we,” it explains. “Originally a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of arrival was enough but on Monday this was reduced to 48 hours. In addition, a negative antigen test was no longer sufficient for fans to be admitted to the festival. Since Thursday antigen testing is allowed again, but the initial validity of 48 hours has been reduced to 24 hours.

“For a multi-day mass event with such a young audience, daily testing is simply not feasible”

“Initially we planned for a capacity of up to 7,000 tests per day at the Pukkelpop site but the 24/48 hour limit for the validity of, respectively, a rapid antigen test or a PCR test means that we would have to triple this capacity. To put things into perspective: this is 21 times the capacity of the Park Spoor Noord testing village in Antwerp at the height of its activities. The 24/48 hour limit effectively means tripling the number of tests, but there is no way we could guarantee the government we can organise this under safe circumstances. This is simple [maths] and a healthy dose of common sense.”

Organisers say the limited vaccine take-up among its young-skewing audience meant 80% of festivalgoers would have had to take a test on site.

“Despite the best efforts of [Belgium’s] vaccination task force and the many vaccination centres in the province of Limburg and beyond, we are forced to conclude that the vaccination rate within our target demographic is not as we had hoped,” they explain. “Almost eight in ten of our young audience would have to submit to testing. For a multi-day mass event with such a young audience, many of which haven’t had the opportunity to get vaccinated, daily testing of so many youngsters is simply not feasible.

“Pukkelpop mainly targets youngsters. They are the DNA of Pukkelpop, our core audience. Their happiness, but also their safety, is one of our number one concerns.

“We deeply regret the fact that the authorities made this decision just one month before the start of the festival but the Covid measures were always going to be subject to the latest developments. As a result, Pukkelpop 2021 can no longer take place as planned.”

“Our heart bleeds, especially for all those youngsters who were so looking forward to Pukkelpop this year,” they add. “More than anything we were rooting for them, but in the end a favourable outcome wasn’t on the cards.”

 


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Music industry rallies for Europe flood victims

Benefit concerts in Germany and Belgium are helping to raise money for those affected by the catastrophic flooding which has swept across continental Europe this month.

At press time, at least 217 people have lost their lives in the floods, which began on 12 July, including 177 in Germany, 37 in Belgium and one person each in Italy, Austria and Romania. A further 155 Germans and six Belgians are still missing, while hundreds of thousands of people were left without power by the flash floods, which have stunned the scientific community.

In Germany, which has bore the brunt of the flooding, a benefit show, Wir halten zusammen! (We Stick Together!), air on public broadcaster ARD tonight (23 July), with a host of the country’s biggest domestic stars playing for free to raise funds for flooding victims.

Sarah Connor, Herbert Grönemeyer, Max Giesinger, Peter Maffay, Roland Kaiser, die Prinzen, Max Mutzke, Jeanette Biedermann and Yvonne Catterfeld will perform at the concert, which is being produced by Oberkirch-based Kimmig Entertainment and forms part of a wider benefit day broadcast on ARD.

“It is everyone’s business to help, especially those of us in the cultural sector”

In Belgium, in addition to a national day of mourning held on 21 July, promoters and artists are stepping up to help those affected by the floods, which were described by Belgian minister of home affairs Annelies Verlinden as “one of the greatest natural disasters our country has ever known.”

Niels Destadsbader – known to non-Belgian IQ readers for his work with Covid-19 relief organisation Lights for Live – donated the proceeds of his show at Ghelamco Arena (20,000-cap.) in Ghent on Tuesday 20 July to the Belgian Red Cross, while popular Francophone festival Francofolies de Spa, which is this year called Belgofolies de Spa, has added an extra day in solidarity with flood victims.

The special concert, Belgofolies aux côtés des sinistrés (Belgofolies with the Disaster Victims), will be held on Monday 26 July and feature performances from Belgian artists including Delta, Plastic Bertrand, Glauque, Antoine Armedan, CélénaSophia, Pierres and Eddy Ape, with all money going to the victims.

Charles Gardier, festival director of Francofolies/Belgofolies, tells RTBF radio: “We know that we will be able to make this evening a great moment of solidarity to come to the aid of the victims. We said to ourselves that it was also our role to act. Faced with such a crisis, it is thanks to this beautiful act of solidarity that we will be able to get out of it. It is everyone’s business [to help], and especially those of us in the cultural sector.”

 


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Belgium introduces Covid Safe Ticket

The Belgian federal government has launched its Covid Safe Ticket, a domestic health pass which will certify the Covid-19 status of attendees to major entertainment and sports events.

The Covid Safe Ticket (CTS) may be used for events of over 1,500 people to certify that all attendees are either fully vaccinated or have returned a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 48 hours. The pass, originally planned to be introduced on 1 July, will apply to outdoor events from 13 August and indoor events from 1 September.

While the ‘safe ticket’ eliminates the need for social distancing, promoters must implement a crowd management plan, as well as ensuring adequate ventilation (in the case of indoor shows) which is measured by a CO2 meter, according to the Belgian government.

Covid Safe Tickets are not mandatory – event organisers are free to put on shows without it – but non-safe ticketed events must comply with social distancing regulations and ensure all guests wear a mask, according to Flemish prime minister Jan Jambon.

“The CST works in the same way as the EU Digital Covid Certificate. Both certificates use QR codes that appear on your smartphone”

Explaining how the CST works, Barbara Van Den Haute, of Digital Flanders, says: “The CST works in the same way as the EU Digital Covid Certificate. Both certificates use QR codes that appear on your smartphone via the CovidSafeBE app.

“The CST will colour red if your negative PCR test is older than 48 hours if you are checked entering an event, while at the airport the same code will colour green allowing you to travel.”

Unlike France’s pass sanitaire, the Covid Safe Ticket is specifically for live events and cannot be used for entry to shopping centres, care centres, bars, restaurants or other hospitality establishments, the Brussels Times reports.

The Belgian grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps has already confirmed it will use the CST for its 2021 event (27–29 August); festivals and Belgium’s other remaining large summer events are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

 


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Tomorrowland 2021 officially cancelled

In a major blow to the Belgian festival season, there will be no Tomorrowland in 2021, organisers have confirmed.

Despite a last-minute plea from the prime minister of Flanders, the mayors of the towns of Boom and Rumst, where the 70,000-capacity festival has taken place since 2005, are unmoved in their decision not to grant Tomorrowland a permit to go ahead, citing concerns about the safety of local residents.

Although the Belgian government has cleared 75,000-capacity festivals from 13 August 2021, Tomorrowland – which was scheduled for 27–29 August and 3–5 September – confirmed earlier this week that mayors Jeroen Baert (Boom) and Jurgen Callaerts (Rumst) had decreed the event, the world’s largest dance music festival, would not be allowed to go ahead this summer.

A delegation of Flemish and Belgian government ministers headed by Flanders’ minister-president, Jan Jambon, met with Baert and Callaerts on Monday but the pair reiterated their previous decision. “It was a constructive conversation, but our position on the matter does not change,” they say in a joint statement.

According to local media, the ministers had attempted to convince the mayors to issue the permit by saying there would be fewer non-Belgians at Tomorrowland than usual, as well as offering help from the federal and Flemish governments to manage the flow of people and provide rapid Covid-19 testing of guests. But Baert and Callaerts stuck to their guns.

“We cannot reconsider our decision regarding the requested permit”

“After our announcement, we were contacted by Flemish minister of the interior and society Bart Somers, Flemish [minister-president and] minister of culture Jan Jambon and federal minister of the interior Annelies Verlinden to clarify our decision,” reads a press release issued by Baert. “Of course we were happy to discuss this in an open dialogue and it was a very constructive conversation with the three excellencies. We understand, of course, all the economic interests at stake and especially the eagerness with which everyone wants a festival summer back, but the responsibility to ensure public peace, safety and health rests with us as mayors. In view of the current circumstances known to us, we cannot reconsider our decision and our position regarding the requested permit.”

In light of the mayors’ decision, the festival has been forced to throw in the towel, leaving Pukkelpop (19–22 August) as the last remaining major music festival in Flanders in 2021.

“It is with a heavy heart our organisation must announce that the 16th edition of Tomorrowland Belgium cannot take place in 2021,” reads a statement from the Tomorrowland team, which warned earlier this week that a cancellation would have a huge impact on the festival’s thousands of employees, freelancers and suppliers.

“The entire team fought till the end and did everything in their powers to write a new chapter in the history of Tomorrowland. Our dream was to welcome the People of Tomorrow, who we’ve been missing for too long, to celebrate life to the fullest. But unfortunately, the local government has not given the permit to organise Tomorrowland.”

“The main stage was finished … 140 people were working full time to make the festival”

While Somers said this morning (24 June) that Tomorrowland would not have to pay back in full the €1.8 million aid it received from the Flemish government earlier this year, the cancellation still leaves the festival in financial trouble, according to a spokesperson.

“[It] is a lot of money and we are very happy with the support, but it is a drop in the ocean,” Debby Wilmsen tells the Brussels Times, adding that the festival has already cancelled orders worth €50m.

“We were starting up already,” she explains. “The main stage was finished, we had to pay the advances for ordering materials, the delivery of the wristbands had been ordered, 140 people were working full time to make the festival, artists were booked… Organising a festival like Tomorrowland costs a lot of money, and a lot of things have to be paid in advance.”

The second edition of Tomorrowland: Around the World, a virtual festival with Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero, Charlotte de Witte and other international DJs, will take place on 16 and 17 July. Over 1m people bought tickets for last year’s Around the World event.

 


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Tomorrowland 2021 in doubt as mayor pulls the plug

The 2021 edition of Tomorrowland hangs in the balance after local authorities decreed the dance music festival would not be allowed to go ahead, despite the Belgian government having cleared 75,000-capacity festivals from 13 August.

In an update to fans on Friday, the festival explained that the mayor of Boom – the town near Antwerp where Tomorrowland has taken place since 2005 – is of the opinion that events of more than 400 people are illegal until ministers publish details of the decree permitting large open-air events, first announced earlier this month. As a result, the local authority has “decided that the 16th edition of Tomorrowland cannot take place in 2021”, reads the Tomorrowland announcement.

The shock announcement hit the festival team “very hard, like a sledgehammer”, they say in a Dutch-language statement, and would have a devastating impact on the thousands of employees, freelancers and suppliers of the 70,000-capacity festival.

“We are very surprised and puzzled by these contradictory messages from our governments,” continues the statement. “In the next few days we will explore all possible options and try to obtain some clarity for our visitors and suppliers.”

Jeroen Baert, the mayor of Boom, says in a press release that “although the epidemiological situation is improving, the organisation of large events would still entail too high risks”, noting that neighbouring countries still have “stricter conditions” on festivals.

At a regional level, politicians in Flanders are pushing hard for the ban to be overturned, with Flemish deputy prime minister Bart Somers saying he intends to meet with the mayors of Boom and nearby Rumst to find a way forward for the festival – though the decision ultimately rests with local councillors.

“If Pukkelpop can go ahead, I am convinced that we can also organise Tomorrowland”

“Of course it falls under the powers and local autonomy of our cities and municipalities to decide for themselves whether certain events can take place on their territory, but the Flemish government has campaigned for festivals to be possible again this summer,” says Somers.

“This sector has suffered greatly from the coronavirus crisis and we have supported them with financial resources to help them get through it, but from 13 August it should be possible to organise larger festivals again. If Pukkelpop can go ahead, I am convinced that we can also organise Tomorrowland.”

Tomorrowland is scheduled across two weekends on 27–29 August and 3–5 September. Pukkelpop (66,000-cap.), which takes place from 19 to 22 August, is still very much still on, with organisers releasing the following statement: “In regard of the news about Tomorrowland, we would like to reassure our festivalgoers. The safety protocols and legal structures will become clear in the coming weeks. A special task force under government guidance is overseeing preparations for August.

“Pukkelpop and the city of Hasselt have been close partners for years, so it goes without saying that we are in continuous dialogue to make the festival a safe environment.”

Along with Serbia’s Exit Festival and a handful of UK events, the Flemish festivals are some of the only major music festivals to be going ahead in Europe this summer. Tomorrowland has been sold out since 2020, while Pukkelpop has sold 70% of its four-day passes, with only Belgians currently able to buy tickets. The international sale starts on 1 July.

 


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International test events underline concert safety

As businesses and individuals in the UK come to terms with the government’s decision to delay the sector’s reopening by a further four weeks, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that concerts, festivals and other live events held under controlled conditions do not contribute to an increase in transmission of Covid-19.

Data gathered from test events across various European countries is building a picture that if every member of the audience is tested prior to a show, and only those who return a negative test are admitted, the chances of them being infected with Covid-19 during the show are extremely slim.

Crucially, despite the pilot shows listed below using different audience configurations, all of them tested participants before and after the event, and all were hailed as successful both by organisers and by the scientists who monitored the health aspects.

Examining the published evidence of different test events around Europe makes for fascinating reading, albeit with very similar results…

Belgium
Zero positive cases of Covid-19 were detected seven days after test events in Spa and Namur, neither among the participants nor the control group, the company in charge of testing at the shows, DNAlytics, announced in May.

Those events were the first of six pilot experiments organised in the cultural sector by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. “In the case of Spa, they establish quantitatively that the organisation of an indoor concert can be envisaged with safety, according to an audience size of 50% of the hall’s capacity and by applying the barrier gestures that have become familiar to us,” says Thibault Helleputte, CEO of DNAlytics.

“In the case of Namur [an outdoor event], the results show that, provided some basic health rules are followed, attendance at a show is not associated with a measurable increase in coronavirus contamination.”

“Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection”

Germany
A scientific study in Germany of the movement of airborne particles in an indoor environment showed a negligible risk of infection in properly ventilated concert venues.

The test, using a robot, at Dortmund’s 1,500-seat Konzerthaus, was carried out over three days in November by the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute of Goslar and particle measurement company Parte Q, with the backing of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency. It followed August’s Restart-19 study (using human participants) by the University Hospital of Halle, which concluded that, with adequate ventilation, live events posed a “low to very low” risk of person-to-person transmission.

“Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection,” says Dr Raphael von Hoensbroech, director of Konzerthaus Dortmund. “The past few months have shown that politics needs a scientifically sound basis for decision-making. With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theatres may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”

The Konzerthaus Dortmund study followed the first pilot show, the similarly successful Restart-19 in Leipzig, in August 2020, which provided the template for subsequent events internationally.

In Barcelona, the indoor concert setting did not increase the coronavirus risk

Spain
Festivals per la Cultura Segura, the organiser of a Barcelona pilot concert in March, also reported that the event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed at the show, which had 5,000 attendees.

Having analysed the data, doctors from the show’s medical partners concluded that the indoor concert setting did not increase the coronavirus risk – with concertgoers exhibiting a lower incidence of Covid-19 than the general population in Barcelona at the time.

While the use of a medical-grade FFP2 mask was mandatory, there was no social distancing among fans, who were separated into three areas, once the show got underway.

Of the 4,592 concert attendees who gave consent for the doctors to analyse Covid-19 tests taken after the event, six tested positive for Covid-19 within 14 days of the Barcelona show (and additional analysis suggests that four of the cases originated outside the concert). Those six represented a cumulative incidence of 130.7 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 inhabitants, far lower than the 259.5 cases/100,000 people in the city’s population at the time.

Three months’ worth of pilots in the Netherlands proved the risk of infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home

Netherlands
Perhaps most compelling are the findings from three months’ worth of pilot events in the Netherlands which proved that the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home.

Organiser Fieldlab Evenementen included a series of events in its programme, including the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam which was attended by 3,500 fans, but also business conferences, festivals, arena shows, an awards ceremony and outdoor sports events in a range of formats and capacities.

According to Fieldlab’s data, 100%-capacity events are possible under the Netherlands’ lower two risk levels (caution and concern), with a reduction in capacity necessary for levels three and four (serious and severe, respectively).

Fieldlab’s Dimitri Bonthuis says, “Provided you take the right measures, the risk of getting infected at a Fieldlab event is the same as at home.”

Just 15 positive cases of Covid-19 – equivalent to 0.026% of attendees – were recorded among 58,000 people at UK pilots

United Kingdom
British culture secretary Oliver Dowden described recent UK pilot shows as “a real success”, noting that just 15 positive cases of Covid-19 – equivalent to 0.026% of attendees – were recorded among 58,000 people during recent pilot events.

On the back of those figures, Dowden said he was “very hopeful” the full reopening of venues, theatres and clubs without social distancing would take place on the target date of 21 June, though this didn’t come to pass.

While the ERP has yet to be released, Dowden has confirmed there were no positive cases from the Brit Awards, which took place with an audience of 4,000 at the O2 in London last month.

There were two positive Covid-19 tests from the ERP’s Sefton Park Pilot, in Liverpool, which involved 5,000 fans, while nine cases were detected among the 6,000 clubbers who attended two dance events, also in Liverpool.

Zero cases were reported from a football match at Wembley, but four infections were detected at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which hosted 17 days of the World Snooker Championship.

No social distancing was in place at any of the ERP events, which used lateral-flow tests to check attendees for the coronavirus prior to entry.

 


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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Belgium OKs 75,000-cap. open-air festivals

In what will be welcome news to Belgium’s remaining late-summer festivals, the country’s federal government has announced that large-scale events of up to 75,000 people may take place from 13 August.

In a press conference on Friday (4 June) afternoon, Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke confirmed that mass events held in the open air, such as festivals like Pukkelpop (66,000-cap.), would be permitted from that date, providing attendees can present a ‘Covid safety ticket’ (proof of full vaccination) or a negative Covid-19 before entry.

The federal announcement follows the publication of the Flemish reopening roadmap – the so-called ‘Freedom Plan’, which advised that large events should be able to go ahead from the end of July – last month.

Speaking during the federal government’s press conference, Vandenbroucke suggested festival organisers could also offer their own on-site rapid antigen facilities, reports the Brussels Times.

In addition to Pukkelpop, large events which are now cleared to go ahead include another mega-festival, dance music event Tomorrowland (70,000-cap.), and the Formula 1 Belgian grand prix in Spa-Francorchamps. Both festivals have yet to announce a 2021 line-up.

“We look forward to organising a festival at the end of August”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Tomorrowland, which is scheduled for 27–29 August and 3–5 September, says: “We are very happy to receive this news, but we will wait for the conditions and rules before we will communicate about the organisation of the festival. We are very positive, and we look forward to organising a festival at the end of August.”

Pukkelpop (19–22 August) is aiming for “full capacity, 66,000 people a day,” organiser Chokri Mahassine tells radio station Studio Brussel, adding that the festival will be “without social distancing and without masks.” “You will be able to walk around and hug each other,” he says.

In a statement, Mahassine says the lifting of restrictions comes after months of lobbying by the industry. “These past few months our sector has made a deliberate choice to engage in constructive cooperation behind the scenes, and we would like to continue in the same vein, with expertise and equal input on all sides,” he comments.

“The safety of our visitors, artists, crew and local residents remains our top priority. Everything else will follow from there. Now it’s full speed ahead to a wonderful new edition of Pukkelpop.”

13 August ushers in the second-to-last stage of Belgium’s easing of lockdown, with the final restrictions planned to be lifted from 1 September.

As IQ reported last week, festival season is also on in Austria, with full-capacity events allowed to resume from 1 July.

 


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Sportpaleis Group given the go-ahead for pop-up arena

Belgian live entertainment giant Sportpaleis Group has been given the green light to open its pop-up arena in the coastal area of Middelkerke this July.

Sportpaleis Group initially revealed plans to build and operate the temporary venue – dubbed Proximus Pop-Up Arena – in the summer of last year.

The venue has now been permitted to open on 2 July, in line with the Flemish government’s roadmap (the Freedom Plan) which stipulates that outdoor events can take place with 5,000, provided attendees wear a mask and adhere to social distancing.

Initially, the arena will open to 2,500 attendees but the capacity will be increased in August when the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor events is bumped up to 10,000.

“The entire team behind our arenas and theatres is ready to get started with great enthusiasm”

As previously reported in IQ, the infrastructure of the venue will combine aspects of a festival setting – such as tents and open-air spaces – with the comfort of permanent areas with weather-resistant, grandstand seats.

So far, the artists announced to play the Proximus Pop-Up Arena include Gers Pardoel, Cleymans & Van Geel, André Hazes, The Schlager Festival Summer Edition, Mama’s Jasje, Soulsister, Natalia and Axelle Red.

A regular feature of the programming will be the Thursday night concert series ‘A Symphonic Evening with’, which will see the 20-piece Antwerp Philharmonic Orchestra accompany a number of artists.

The temporary venue will remain in Middelkerke until the end of August. Tickets are already on sale here.

“The entire team behind our arenas and theatres is ready to get started with great enthusiasm,” says Jan Van Esbroeck, CEO of the Sportpaleis Group. “We will be able to use all our expertise to offer visitors a wonderful concert experience.”

 


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Belgium test events deemed a success

Results from Belgium’s first-ever cultural test events, which took place at the Royal Flemish Theatre (KVS) and concluded in early May, have been deemed a success.

The two-week test series took place in KVS’s 500-capacity room with 50–250 attendees and examined how the air quality in the room was impacted by the presence of an audience.

The results, which have been published this week, show that the air quality in a half-filled theatre remains unchanged and therefore all spectators can safely attend a performance.

According to the calculations of KVS and its partners, the air quality in a fully occupied hall would not be affected either and therefore there is ‘no objective reason for capacity restrictions at seated events in well-ventilated rooms’.

Now, Belgium’s live sector is asking for a re-evaluation of the proposed reopening on 9 June so that seated events are permitted to take place at full capacity.

“This outcome is a boost for the entire cultural sector”

Artistic director, Michael De Cock, says: “KVS can look back on the test week with satisfaction. Not only was it particularly moving to be able to be in a theatre again – the reactions from the audience were overwhelming – the results that KVS can present today are also encouraging and strengthen our belief that culture can be organised safely. More culture creates more humanity. Something that our society needs today more than ever. ”

Business director, Merlijn Erbuer, says: “This outcome is a boost for the entire cultural sector: what applies at KVS applies in every theatre with an equivalent ventilation system. The KVS is therefore asking for a reevaluation of the proposed reopening, so that from 9 June full houses are admitted for performing arts with a passive, seated audience.

“Test events, however, we have to get rid of as soon as possible, because they are prohibitively expensive and annoying for our audience. You also don’t get tested before getting on the tram or walking into a shopping street.”

Similar live music experiments have also taken place in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the UK. See an extensive list here.

 


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