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Road to recovery: A timeline of pilot projects

In August 2020, Germany paved the way for live music pilot projects with Restart-19, an experiment which saw thousands of volunteers to take part in a concert at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig with singer Tim Bendzko.

Since then, similar experiments have popped up across the globe. From Spain to Singapore, test events with as few as 50 participants and as many as 5,000 have taken place to prove to authorities (and the world) that when it comes to safety and security, the live music industry knows what it’s doing.

Below is a timeline of the pilot projects that have taken place since late summer 2020 – all of which have proved, in one way or another, that the live entertainment sector can reopen safely under certain measures – as well as the tests that are on the horizon in 2021.

August 2020

Restart-19
When: 22 August 2020
Where: Quarterback Immobilien Arena, Leipzig, Germany
Who: University Medical Center of Halle
What they said: “[T]he contacts that do occur at an event do not involve all participants. Therefore, events could take place under specific conditions during a pandemic.”
Participants: 1,500

November 2020

Konzerthaus Dortmund (study)
When: 2–3, 20 November 2020
Where: Konzerthaus Dortmund, Germany
Who: Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute Goslar, ParteQ
What they said: “Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection. […] With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theatres may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”

December 2020

Primacov
When: 12 December 2020
Where: Apolo, Barcelona, Spain
Who: Primavera Sound, Germans Trias Hospital, the Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation
What they said: “A live music concert, staged with a series of security measures that included a negative antigen test for Sars- CoV-2 done on the same day, was not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections.”
Participants: 1,047

Philharmonie de Paris (study)
When: 16 December 2020
Where: Philharmonie de Paris, France
Who: Dassault Systèmes
What they said: “The combination of face masks with a fresh-air supply built into every seat gives the indoor Philharmonie a similar profile to that of an outdoor space, with a very limited risk of spread from one side [of the venue] to the other.”

Back to Live (SG)
When: 18–19 December 2020 Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay, Singapore
Who: AEG Presents, Collective Minds
What they said: “[T]he outcome of such pilots will be critical to our ongoing efforts to allow events of a larger scale to resume in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Participants: 500

February 2021

Because Music Matters
When: 10–14 February
Where: Rockhal, Luxembourg
Who: Rockhal
What they said: “Building confidence among all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important.”
Participants: 100 per night

Back to Live (NL)
When: 15, 20, 21, 28 February & 6, 7, 20, 21 March 2021
Where: The Netherlands
Who: Fieldlab Evenementen
What they said: “We can now show that we can organise events in a very safe way. […] We hope this can lead to a tailor- made reopening of venues.”
Participants: Varies between events

March 2021

Love of Lesbian
When: 27 March 2021
Where: Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona
Who: Festivals per la Cultura Segura
What they said: The event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed.
Participants: 5,000

The Berlin Philharmonic
When: 20 March 2021
Where: Chamber Music Hall, Berlin
Who: Pilotprojekt, Berlin department of culture
What they said: ‘Zero infections among the 1,000 people who attended the show is further proof that events can be organised safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.’
Participants: 680

April 2021

Jonathan theatre performance
When: 26 April–9 May 2021
Where: Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS), Belgium
Who: KVS and Belgium’s Ministry of Culture
What they said: “An important observation is that the CO2 value and the relative humidity have barely increased. We saw the figure increase from 500 ppm to 600 ppm, while the maximum permitted value is 1200 ppm. This is of course only a first indication.”
Participants: 50–250

May 2021

Events Research Programme
When: April/May 2021
Where: Sefton Park and Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool, Brit Awards in London, The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and more
Who: Festival Republic, Circus, BPI, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and more
What they said: “These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing. We will be guided by the science and medical experts but will work flat out to make that happen.”
Participants: 300–21,000

TBC 2021

Denmark Trials
When: TBC 2021
Where: Denmark
Who: Dansk Live, Divisionsforeningen
What they said: “This should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many great concert experiences across the country in 2021.”

Paris test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Accor Arena, Paris
Who: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Culture, St Louis Hospital, Prodiss
Participants: 5,000

Marseille test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Dôme, Marseille
Who: The city of Marseille, Inserm, Béatrice Desgranges (Marsatac, SMA)
Participants: 1,000

 


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German tests show you ‘can’t write off the summer yet’

The artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic has shared preliminary findings from the orchestra’s recent pilot concert, saying the zero infections among the 1,000 people who attended the show is further proof that events can be organised safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The 20 March performance, part of a series of planned test concerts which have now been cut short by a new lockdown in Berlin, welcomed fans who could provide a negative Covid-19 test to the 1,180-seat Chamber Music Hall for a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No 2.

According to the Philharmoniker’s Andrea Zietzschmann, shows such as those in Berlin are helping to create “a perspective that we can find a creative, constructive and responsible approach to being able to organise cultur[al events] again during the pandemic.” The city’s pilot project is “not only of great importance for Berlin, but also for the entire cultural landscape,” she adds.

Dr Florian Kainzinge, who oversaw the rapid testing ahead of the concert, has revealed that it cost €23,000 to test the 680 people who were tested at the Chamber Music Hall, plus 200 staff. According to the Tagesspiegel, this would add around €20 to the cost of tickets at venues of a similar size.

Other findings include that it took an average of 12 minutes between testing and producing the result (all negative in the case of 20 March concert), and that the no-show rate, at 43, was also much lower when compared to a normal concert.

“The pilot project can create a perspective that we can find a creative, constructive and responsible approach to being able to organise culture again”

Only two people were turned away, for forgetting to bring their proof of having a negative Covid-19 test.

Marko Hegner from Goodlive says the results so far should be transferable to events of all kinds, “so we shouldn’t write off the event summer yet.”

The initial findings come as Berlin presses pause on its cultural Pilotprojekt, which also includes events in other events in concert halls, theatres and nightclubs, due to the worsening coronavirus situation in Germany.

Michael Müller, the mayor of Berlin, says the controlled test events will be continued at a later date. “It is absolutely clear that the pilot projects that we have planned for culture, sport and gastronomy can no longer be implemented [at present],” he explains.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has been critical of the approach taken by local governments which are focusing on mass testing as opposed to stay-at-home orders or lockdowns.

“I really don’t know now whether testing and [allowing people to] wander, as they say in Berlin, is the right answer to what’s going on at the moment,” she said earlier this week.

 


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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