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PennFest joins growing list of UK fest cancellations

Pennfest is the latest UK festival to be called off, with organisers citing a “challenging economic climate”.

The Buckinghamshire-based event joins a growing list of UK festivals that will not take place in 2024 that includes Connect Music Festival, 110 Above Festival, NASS Festival, Leopollooza, Long Division, BluedotBarn On The Farm and Splendour.

Meanwhile, organisers of Norfolk’s Wild Fields are battling to reconfigure the planned three-day camping event into a two-day city-based gathering. A collaboration between ATC Group and the team behind Norwich-based multi-venue festival Wild Paths, the 10,000-cap Wild Fields was set for Raynham Estate in North Norfolk from 15-18 August.

Festival director Ben Street told IQ that the team are trying to salvage the festival and are awaiting licensing approval to move to a city park.

Pennfest was due to take place in the village of Penn between 19 and 21 July, with performances from the likes of Jess Glynne, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Paul Weller, The Coral, Professor Green and Richard Ashcroft.

In a post on the festival’s official website, organisers explained that “challenging trading conditions coupled with significantly increasing costs in a very challenging economic climate has made it impossible to deliver the event to the standard our customers have become accustomed to”.

“It is impossible to deliver the event to the standard our customers have become accustomed to”

They continued: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and the whole team is devastated by this after all their hard work over the past 12 years since the festival’s inception. It saddens us even further that unfortunately this situation does not only apply to us with a significant number of festivals like ours in the UK and internationally already cancelling or postponing their events for the same reasons.”

They ended by saying: “For us, it’s important to prioritise the wellbeing and the long-term sustainability of the festival and by regrouping in this way we can deliver on our commitment to further high-quality experiences in the future.”

Refunds will be available for ticketholders as well as the option to have tickets will roll over to the 2025 event. Plans for next year’s festival will be announced in the summer.

Last month, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) revealed that 21 UK festivals have now been cancelled, postponed or scrapped – with 100 at permanent risk without action.

In response, the UK trade body is repeating calls for a three-year reduction in VAT on festival tickets from 20% to 5%.

“If the UK wants to be a world leader in music, then the UK government needs to do as other countries across the world have done, and support the festival sector for a few years to make its recovery,” said AIF CEO John Rostron. “Lower VAT on tickets to 5% for three years, and we’ll prevent more festivals having to say enough is enough and goodbye.”

 


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Australian festival scene ‘in crisis’ as cancellations rise

At least six Australian festivals have been called off since the beginning of this year, in what some executives are calling a crisis.

Groovin The Moo, an annual festival that has booked acts including Billie Eilish, alt-J and Wolf Alice during its 19-year history, became the sector’s latest casualty earlier today.

“Ticket sales have not been sufficient to deliver a regional festival of this kind,” reads a statement from Groovin The Moo organisers.

“All tickets will be refunded automatically. Thank you to everybody who has supported the festival. We hope to be able to bring Groovin The Moo back to regional communities in the future.”

The festival had tapped Mura Masa, The Kooks, Melanie C, Mallrat and more for this year’s festival. It was set to begin in late April and run through until mid-May, hitting venues in Canberra, Bendigo, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast and Bunbury.

“Costs are up 40% across the board, and we’re just not able to raise ticket prices to the same level”

The news comes days after Groovin The Moo programmer Rich Moffat announced that he is stepping away from the music industry after 30 years.

Other festivals that have cancelled 2024 editions include Coastal Jam, Summerground, Vintage Vibes, Tent Pole: A Musical Jamboree and ValleyWays – all of which cited financial difficulties amid the cost-of-living crisis.

“Costs are up 40% across the board, and we’re just not able to raise ticket prices to the same level,” explains The Australian Festival Association’s (AFA) managing director Mitch Wilson. “So the economics of festivals are becoming more difficult in this environment. The margins were already so tight, and the substantial increase in costs has made them even tighter.

Gold Coast-based Apex Entertainment’s Andrew McManus asserted, “If we’re looking at five festivals closing within weeks of each other, and one just days out before gates opened, then obviously the festival scene is in a crisis.”

“At the end of the day, our government is not addressing the cost of living crisis. Until it does, the future is a little murky for the live sector except for recession-proof superstars.”

“The margins were already so tight, and the substantial increase in costs has made them even tighter”

Even promoters that are enjoying record-breaking attendances are concerned about how the festival cancellations will impact the market.

The Untitled Group, Australia’s biggest independent promoter, enjoyed its most successful New Year’s festival run with 150,000 tickets sold for Beyond The Valley, Wildlands and Sun Cycle.

However, Untitled co-founder and managing partner Michael Christidis admits to concerns over the “vulnerability” of smaller festivals.

“Seeing many of them cancel and postpone could impact market confidence in consumers tying up funds with new or smaller events,” he says.

“Particularly with the cost of living going up so much, it’s not as easy for patrons to continually make plans and invest in as many shows that are often several months out. This concern will simply see us introduce less new events and concepts, and focus on developing what is already working in market.”

“If we’re looking at five festivals closing within weeks of each other, obviously the festival scene is in a crisis”

This year’s cancellations follow a patchy 2023 season in which Bluesfest lost 30,000 punters, Splendour In The Grass failed to sell out, and Falls (multi-state), Dark Mofo (Tasmania) and Goomfest (Victoria) took a year off.

Several festivals last year called it quits for good, including Newtown Festival in Sydney after 40 years and Play On The Plains in Deniliquin. Victoria saw the end of Wangaratta Jazz & Blues, Music In The Vines and Goldfields Gothic.

In addition, the parent companies of Now & Again, Grass Is Greener and Lunar Electric, went into voluntary administration or put in liquidation.

Hoping to avoid the same level of catastrophe as last year, the AFA is urging the Commonwealth government to extend its Live Music Major Events Fund for another four years, for the Victorian government to open applications for its similar fund, and for NSW to provide more specifics about its $103 million commitment.

 


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Two major Polish festivals called off for 2023

Poland’s festival summer has rapidly diminished with the cancellations of two major events: Kraków Live and On Air.

“Festivalgoers, Kraków Live will have its beginning in a new formula and place next year. See you in summer 2024!” reads a statement posted on Kraków Live’s Facebook page, on 5 June.

Promoter Alter Art, which also organises Open’er and Orange Warsaw, last year announced that Kraków Live would move from its longtime home of the Polish Aviation Museum due to site changes, but added that the event would return in 2023. Ultimately, no details of the 2023 edition were given before it was pulled.

Kraków Live has taken place at the Polish Aviation Museum in Kraków since 2007 and was known as Coke Live Festival until 2013.

The two-day event has hosted stars such as Calvin Harris, Post Malone, Travis Scott, Lewis Capaldi and The Chemical Brothers, and typically attracts 60,000 people each year.

“Kraków Live will have its beginning in a new formula and place next year”

On Air, a new festival from Fest Festival promoter Follow the Step, was also cancelled this week on Wednesday (7 June).

“We made a decision to postpone our festival to next year,” reads a statement on On Air’s Facebook page. “The second edition will take place in September 2024,” the statement continues, adding that refunds or ticket exchanges will be offered to ticketholders.

On Air was due to return to the 70,000-capacity Bemowo airport in Warsaw between 8 and 9 September 2023, with the line-up yet to be announced.

Following last year’s debut, Follow the Step co-founder Maciej Korczak told IQ of the challenging but rewarding launch.

“Launching a new festival is never easy, especially in the post-pandemic times,” says Korczak. “The biggest challenge that we faced was that On Air took place at the very end of the festival season and a lot of fans already used their festival budget.

“Normally it wouldn’t be a problem as it’s actually a good time for organising a festival in the capital – people are coming back from holidays and students to the universities – but this year because of the high inflation and because of many festivals and events being moved to this summer due to the pandemic, it meant that tickets were harder to sell this year.”

IQ has contacted Follow the Step and Alter Art for comment on the cancellations.

 


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Chris Stapleton NY gig cancelled due to “hazardous” smog

A Chris Stapleton concert was called off due to “hazardous” air quality levels in New York caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires.

Broadway performances, sports games, Pride events and flights were also cancelled in recent days due to the polluting haze spreading across the US east coast.

Stapleton was due to perform for 17,000 people at St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview in Syracuse on Thursday (8 June) but late Wednesday, the American singer issued a statement postponing the outdoor concert.

“Due to the ongoing air conditions in the greater Syracuse area, tomorrow night’s show at @StJosephsAmp will be rescheduled. All previously purchased tickets for the original date will be honoured for the new date. We expect to have an update by mid-day June 9th.”

There had been a question mark over whether The Governors Ball NYC could take place this weekend in Flushing Meadows Corona Park but organisers assured ticketholders the outdoor event would go ahead.

There had been a question mark over whether The Governors Ball NYC could take place this weekend

“Skies are clearing in NYC and conditions are expected to be significantly improved by tomorrow,” reads a post on social media from The Governors Ball NYC. “Gates will be opening at 11:45 am as planned! See you there.”

Much of the smoke plaguing the region can be traced back to fires burning in Quebec, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. Nearly 150 fires are active in that province alone – some burning for weeks – with hundreds more alight across Canada.

Hundreds of firefighters from the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have been deployed to Canada, and more are on the way.

Poor air quality peaked in some major metro areas along the East Coast by late Wednesday or early Thursday. The former was by far the worst day on record in the United States for wildfire smoke since 2006, according to new research from Stanford University scientists.

The Canadian government says nearly 100 million people in the US and Canada are currently experiencing very poor air quality. Millions across North America are being advised to wear high-grade masks outdoors due to dangerous air pollution.

 


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Roger Waters takes legal action over axed gigs

Roger Waters is taking legal action over moves to cancel his upcoming concerts in Frankfurt and Munich.

The Pink Floyd co-founder was scheduled to perform in Germany at Barclays Arena in Hamburg (7 May), Cologne’s Lanxess Arena (9 May), Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin (17-18 May), Munich’s Olympiahalle (21 May) and Festhalle Frankfurt (28 May) as part of his This Is Not a Drill tour.

However, the dates have become shrouded in controversy, with the city of Frankfurt attempting to block Waters from performing over allegations of antisemitism. The site is also of historical significance as Jewish Telegraph Agency notes that the Festhalle was the site of the deportation of 3,000 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust, just after Kristallnacht.

A statement issued by Frankfurt City Council says: “The background to the cancellation is the persistent anti-Israel behaviour of the former Pink Floyd frontman, who is considered one of the most widely spread antisemites in the world.

“He repeatedly called for a cultural boycott of Israel and drew comparisons to the apartheid regime in South Africa, and put pressure on artists to cancel events in Israel.”

Munich City Council is also looking to ban the 79-year-old from performing in the city, alleging that he “keeps stirring up antisemitic resentment”, as well as “spreading conspiracy ideologies that relativise and justify Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine”.

“Mr Waters has instructed his lawyers to immediately take all necessary steps to overturn this unjustifiable decision”

However, through a statement issued by his management, Waters has hit back at the “unconstitutional” course of action, which he says is “without justification, and based upon the false accusation that Roger Waters is antisemitic, which he is not”.

“As a result of this unilateral, politically motivated action, Mr Waters has instructed his lawyers to immediately take all necessary steps to overturn this unjustifiable decision to ensure that his fundamental human right of freedom of speech is protected and that all of those who wish to see him perform, are free to do so in Frankfurt, Munich and in any other city in any other country,” reads the statement.

“Mr Waters believes that if this blatant attempt to silence him is left unchallenged it could have serious, far-reaching consequences for artists and activists all over the world.”

Last month, a cross-party group of politicians in Germany joined forces to demand the cancellation of Waters’ Cologne date due to his comments on the war in Ukraine. Two scheduled concerts by Waters at Tauron Arena in Krakow, Poland, were cancelled last year over the same issue.

Subsequently invited by Moscow to address the UN Security Council via video link last month, Waters used the platform to condemn Russia’s “illegal” invasion of Ukraine “in the strongest possible terms”, but repeated his claim that it “was not unprovoked, so I also condemn the provocateurs in the strongest possible terms”.

 


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Tamsin Embleton: ‘We need to reimagine the way we tour’

The last few months have seen an unprecedented number of artists pull the plug on tours, citing the detrimental impact of touring on mental health.

SantigoldArlo ParksShawn MendesSam Fender, Russ, Wet Leg and Disclosure are just a handful of artists who scrapped outings, with many referencing the gruelling reality of touring via public statements.

Tamsin Embleton, a psychotherapist and the director of Music Industry Therapists Collective (MITC), called the mental health crisis in the artist community “startlingly widespread” but says many mental health crises are preventable.

In advance of the publication of her new book, ‘Touring and Mental Health, The Music Industry Manual‘ (due 23 March 2023), Embleton shares tips for identifying and coping with the various psychological difficulties that can occur during or as a result of touring.

 


What’s leading the rise in the number of tour cancellations due to mental health?
As my fellow MITC therapist Jodi Milstein points out, burnouts, breakdowns and relapses have always happened on tour but we used to use euphemisms for it, like ‘exhaustion’. Researchers in the UK and the US have been waving the red flag about the vast number of artists who suffer psychological difficulties when working in the music business since the 1980s, but it’s taken the latest wave of research around six years ago headed up by a paper from Gross and Musgrave and Help Musicians to catalyse substantial change in the industry.

Attitudes have changed a lot since the 80s. We have a greater mental health literacy so there’s less need for euphemism. This is partly down to wider societal trends but also thanks to artists who have publicly disclosed their struggles in the press. This encourages others to reflect, identify problems and seek help. Teams need to be careful that they don’t view an artist’s mental health difficulties as their USP though. Discussing sensitive issues in the press can be distressing – if it happens too early in recovery it can set progress back. And, of course, once it’s out there, it’s out there, and might be probed for years to come. Artists need support in figuring out what they feel comfortable disclosing, what is just theirs and what should remain private.

Touring is intensively stressful from a biological, psychological and social perspective. Stress accumulates on the road – and as it does so it degrades mindset, morale, optimism, tolerance, immunity and every system in the body. It makes it hard to get restorative sleep, and so the cycle continues. Some artists are sent out on the road with schedules they aren’t physically and psychologically able to withstand. Chronic stress can create psychological and physical problems and can exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

For some touring professionals and artists who were grounded during the pandemic, their capacities have changed for better and worse. There might be more awareness of the hidden costs of touring in terms of mental, physical and relational health. The pandemic meant lost earnings and opportunities for many, and there are other issues (low streaming revenue, inflation, the weak pound etc), adding financial pressure and resulting in extra dates being added.

“Touring is a high-stress situation where environmental conditions expose you to rely on unhealthy coping strategies”

What kinds of mental health issues are touring artists prone to currently?
Depression, anxiety (general, performance, social, flight), addiction, dependency and substance misuse problems (alcohol and substance, sex, porn), stress and burnouts, mental health crises (psychosis, self-harm, etc), conflict and anger management difficulties, eating disorders… the list goes on. Touring is a high-stress situation where environmental conditions are changeable and challenging, and the touring lifestyle encourages you to rely on unhealthy coping strategies such as excessive alcohol drinking, indulgent food, smoking, illicit substances, sex etc.

What causes these issues – where are the pressure points?
Touring is stressful to mind, brain, body and relationships. Firstly it takes you away from the people and practices that usually keep you stable (maintaining relationships at home is hard when you are physically and psychologically in different places). You are constantly thrust into unfamiliar spaces like venues and hotels which can be a source of stress in itself. Then the pressure is ramped up – to meet the expectations of a wide number of people (audiences, teams, press, local crews etc). You’re always ‘on’ – expected to deliver to exceptionally high standards night after night, no matter what role you’re in – and that’s hard to maintain.

There are great soaring highs (when performances go well) swiftly followed by lows – a rollercoaster people are rarely adequately prepared for. It starts off as very exciting, but as Nile Rodgers said to me it can be gruelling. The stress levels make it hard to get good quality, restorative sleep and exhaustion add to the cumulative stress. It’s hard to switch off when you’re always gearing up for the next show, which makes it hard to be present and enjoy your surroundings. There’s very little privacy and solitude. Often people talk about loneliness on the road, which is about not feeling connected to people or understood.

“Record labels, managers, and promoters have a duty of care toward artist”

Who is responsible for an artist’s mental health?
The artist has personal responsibility towards their own health and their teams have a duty of care towards their health too. A duty of care is the legal duty of people in positions of trust, power or authority to exercise reasonable care toward those they manage or assume responsibility for. It protects the health, safety and welfare of clients and employees while they carry out their work duties. So, record labels, managers, and promoters have a duty of care toward artists (i.e. anyone who employs the artist to fulfil work, or those who are employed by the artist to make career decisions on their behalf). Artists also have a duty of care toward their touring parties and managers.

Are there more services that artists and crew can reach out to now?
Greater numbers of artists and music industry workers are recognising that they need support and reaching for help. We have many excellent services and charities in the UK serving the community – Help Musicians UK, Music Support, BAPAM, Music Industry Therapist Collective (MITC), Tonic Rider, and grants available from PRS for Music fund, Royal Society of Musicians, StageHand (run by PSA) and others. Majors like Sony, Warners and Universal are offering greater levels of support. There’s a huge number of passionate, highly skilled people working to change things for the better.

“I think all artists could benefit from mentorship and coaching”

How can touring be made sustainable for artists?
That’s a big question and not one that’s easy to answer succinctly! We do need to reimagine the way that people tour. It’s not one-size fits all – capacities vary. Some people are more vulnerable than others.

Some changes can be implemented for free with a little bit of effort like providing ‘dry’ (alcohol free) dressing rooms, signposting to specialist mental health services, local 12-step meetings, green spaces, sports facilities, and ring-fencing time so that they are able to meet with therapists, coaches or sponsors. Others, such as changing the schedule and having sensible routing, have cost implications and raise questions about who pays for the shortfall. There’s a chapter in [‘Touring and Mental Health, The Music Industry Manual’] that addresses this.

What kind of support should artists be provided with?
It depends on what they’re dealing with but it’s helpful to set off feeling prepared. Adequate rehearsal time helps people feel a sense of mastery over the repertoire (which in turn can reduce performance anxiety).

Depending on the individual they might need to visit their GP or psychiatrist for a medication review ahead of the tour. I think all artists could benefit from mentorship and coaching, whether that’s ADHD coaching, vocal or performance training or career coaching. Skills building through psychoeducation, developing an understanding of mind-body connections and finding healthy ways to relax such as self-hypnosis for performance anxiety, meditation and mindfulness etc is important too, which is why we have tried to cover as many bases as possible in the book with chapters on all of these topics.

Then there are a number of psychological therapies that can help people to intercept unhelpful thought patterns, or reflect on their self-perception, formative past experiences and relational dynamics. Artists need to understand the risks to mind and body (including RSI, vocal strain issues like nodules, hearing issues etc) and have the right equipment, such as custom-fitted ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones for those who struggle with sensory overload.

“We have to be flexible and anticipate life transitions that might cause stress or mean people need to adjust their way of working”

What do artist teams need to remember about artists and their mental health?
Even with the very best of intentions, over-functioning fosters dependency and reduces resilience and tolerance (think: helicopter parents). Try not to dismiss protests or expressions of suffering (verbally or musically) – it means something, so take it seriously. Educate yourself on the warning signs of poor mental health and illness. Think: prevention rather than cure or crisis response.

The industry is highly stressful, and the artists you work with will need to find ways to vent, blow off steam and make sense of it all. Encourage healthy behaviours and model self-care. Put in boundaries around communication and when some time is blocked off in the diary, don’t tempt the artist into working during their time off. It’s important they (and you) have some semblance of a life, and relationships outside of work. Social support is a vital source of stress relief throughout life, so we should try to help people stay connected to loved ones whilst out on the road.

Pre-order ‘Touring and Mental Health, The Music Industry Manual’ here. Contact David Stock for bulk buys: [email protected]

 


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Music events called off following Queen’s death

A number of music events have been cancelled or postponed as a mark of respect in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The UK’s longest-serving monarch passed away yesterday afternoon aged 96 at the royal residence in Balmoral, Scotland, following a 70-year reign, with the throne immediately passing to her eldest son, King Charles III.

A period of National Mourning has now started and will continue until the end of the day of the State Funeral – expected to be held in Westminster Abbey on Monday 19 September.

The Queen’s death was announced at 6.30pm, prompting that night’s Mercury Prize ceremony – held at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London – to be cancelled with guests already in the venue. Eleven of the 12 nominated acts nominated for album of the year, including Little Simz, Sam Fender and Self Esteem, had been due to perform at the event, which was set to be broadcast live on the BBC.

Elsewhere, Thursday evening’s Proms at the Royal Albert Hall was called off 30 minutes before it was due to start, and the BBC has announced Friday and Saturday’s closing concerts of the eight-week classical music series will no longer take place.

The public service broadcaster has also cancelled BBC Radio 2 Live in Leeds, which was scheduled to take place from 17-18 September with artists such as Robbie Williams, Nile Rodgers + Chic, Tears for Fears, Kaiser Chiefs and George Ezra.

The Cabinet Office says there is no obligation to cancel or postpone events… or close entertainment venues during the National Mourning period

Arcade Fire’s show at The O2 in London went ahead as planned, although a boxing event due to be held tomorrow night is now being rescheduled for October. The English Premier League and Football League have also postponed this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Despite the cancellations, the Cabinet Office says there is no obligation to cancel or postpone events and sporting fixtures, or close entertainment venues during the National Mourning period, with the decision left to the discretion of individual organisations.

“As a mark of respect, organisations might wish to consider cancelling or postponing events or closing venues on the day of the State Funeral,” states the official guidance. “They are under no obligation to do so and this is entirely at the discretion of individual organisations.

“If sporting fixtures or events are planned for the day of the State Funeral, organisations may want to adjust the event timings so they do not clash with the timings of the funeral service and associated processions. As a mark of respect, and in keeping with the tone of National Mourning, organisers may wish to hold a period of silence and/or play the National Anthem at the start of events or sporting fixtures, and players may wish to wear black armbands.”

Multiple live music organisations including UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Association of Event Organisers have paid tribute to the Queen in the wake of her passing along with venues such as Wembley Stadium, The O2, AO Arena Manchester and OVO Arena Wembley.

Rod Stewart, Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David and Mabel were among the artists to perform at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace in June.

 


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Moscow’s Park Live festival decimated by cancellations

Moscow’s Park Live festival has been called off following a raft of cancellations from international acts.

Placebo, My Chemical Romance, Slipknot, Biffy Clyro, Iggy Pop, Deftones, Royal Blood and The Killers have all pulled out of the festival in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With only a handful of acts left on the bill, the annual international music festival will no longer take place at Luzhniki Olympic Complex in June and July.

“Y’all already understood that Park Live festival won’t be happening this year,” reads a statement from the organisers, posted on Facebook. “The picture of current circumstances does not provide the opportunity to fit our [festival] into it for legal, logistic, or for simple human reasons.”

“The picture of current circumstances does not provide the opportunity to fit our [festival] into it”

Park Live was launched in 2013 by Moscow-headquartered promoter Melnitsa Concert Agency, with the aim of bringing international artists to Russia.

The promoter, which also has offices in Kyiv, Minsk and Tbilisi, is considered one of the leading live music organisers of international and domestic acts in the ex-USSR territory.

Alongside Park Live, the company’s stable of festivals includes UPark in Kyiv, Ukraine, which has also been called off due to the conflict.

As more events are called off in Russia, the country’s live music association is proposing a moratorium on ticket refunds to prevent “the collapse of the industry”.

Other acts that have cancelled performances in Russia include Green Day, Imagine Dragons, Louis Tomlinson, Yungblud, Franz Ferdinand, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Bring Me the Horizon.

 


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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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NZ faces ‘staggering’ number of event cancellations

A ‘staggering’ number of major events across New Zealand have been cancelled and more are expected, following the country’s recent move to red in the Covid traffic light system.

As of 11:59 pm on Sunday (23 January), indoor and outdoor events across the country are limited to 100 people and the use of vaccine passports is mandatory.

The new restrictions prompted a fresh wave of cancellations including music, food, and wine festivals, sports tournaments, arts events, and a wide array of summer festivities scheduled for February and March.

The latest casualties include the sold-out Splore festival, which would’ve taken place between 25–27 February at Tapapakanga Regional Park in Orere Point.

In a statement, the organisers said the country’s move to red “doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity”.

Organisers said the country’s move to red “doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity”

Elsewhere, The Others Way festival, which was scheduled for next Saturday (29 January) in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, has also been pulled.

Anthonie Tonnon, Carnivorous Plant Society and Coolies were scheduled to perform at the event, promoted by Flying Out, 95bFM and UTR Presents.

Other cancelled events include Auckland Pride Festival (1–27 February), New Zealand Fashion Week (7–12 February, Auckland), Great Kiwi Beer Festival (23 January, Christchurch), Warbirds over Wanaka (15–17 April) and the Bluff Oyster Festival (21 May).

Outfields music festival (Auckland), Rhythm and Vines (Gisborne) and Northern Bass (Northland) have already been postponed.

At the time of writing, no decision has been made on major upcoming festivals including Electric Avenue Music Festival, Urban Polo in Christchurch, South Island Wine and Food Festival.

Only cancelled events or postponed events with more than 5,000 vaccinated attendees can make use of the government insurance scheme, announced last year, which covers 90% of unrecoverable costs.

The move to red in the Covid traffic light system comes after a cluster of nine Omicron cases were recorded.

 


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