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Sportpaleis: “We still have to reschedule more than a million tickets”

Belgium’s live industry has largely reopened thanks to the Covid Safe Ticket but it could be up to two years until it’s firing on all cylinders again, according to key venues.

This is partly down to the large numbers of ‘old’ tickets that still need to be rebooked – more than one million for the Sportpaleis Antwerp (cap. 23,001) alone – the Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting Organisation (vrt) reports.

“We still have to reschedule more than one million tickets,” Jan Van Esbroeck, CEO of Sportpaleis Group, told vrt. “People prefer to redeem those already paid tickets first before thinking about new events.”

Esbroeck nods to Bart Peeters’s rescheduled Deluxe concerts at the Group’s Lotto Arena (cap. 5,218) which were announced last week. “You can hardly buy tickets for those new dates because the majority of them have been in the hands of about 50,000 owners for almost two years,” he says.

“It may take another two years before everything falls into place again”

Mike Naert, general director of concert hall Het Depot in Leuven, still notices a lack of trust and even a certain degree of fear among the general public. He mainly blames the communication of the government: “They keep blowing hot and cold at the same time. Do the vaccinations work or not? Is the realm of freedom here or not? Too much confusion is still being sown.”

Many smaller venues also speak of slower or fewer ticket sales compared to before the pandemic. Gilles Ledure, director of Flagey in Ixelles immediately took into account about 30% fewer sales than before the pandemic when the autumn announcements were made: “It is not yet the rush that everyone expected this autumn. It may take another two years before everything falls into place again.”

Jérôme Giersé from Bozar in Brussels added: “The public also decides more last-minute than before corona. Ticket sales are much more difficult to estimate these days.”

 


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Brussels’ Centre for Fine Arts to close after fire

Brussels’ Centre for Fine Arts (cap. 2,100), also known as Bozar, has closed for at least a week after a fire broke out on the roof of the building yesterday afternoon (18 January).

Nearly 100 firefighters attended the scene after eyewitnesses reported large plumes of smoke coming from the roof of the multi-purpose venue at around 4:15 pm CET.

The blaze, which did not spread beyond the roof, was under control by around 9 pm local time. Two firefighters were injured during the process though no other casualties were reported as the building was closed at the time.

“Around midnight, most of the means deployed left the scene, but a fire engine remained on site all night to ensure a fire picket,” said the spokesman of the Brussels fire department, Walter Derieuw.

While the fire did not damage any major work in the Centre for Fine Arts, a complete review of the damage is yet to be undertaken. The cause of the fire remains unknown but investigations are expected to commence today.

 


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