Spain rolls out €3 million subsidy for venue operators
The Catalan government yesterday (26 August) announced a new subsidy of €3 million for venue operators in the region.
The fund will help operators mitigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 restrictions implemented during the first half of 2021.
This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators.
In the new round of funding, the maximum limit of aid that operators can receive is increased to €350,000.
In order to be eligible, venue operators must prove a minimum expenditure of €4,000, as well as programming that includes at least 24 paid concerts between 14 March 2019 and 14 March 2020.
This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators
Grants will vary depending on the capacity of the venue:
- Rooms with a capacity of up to 400 people: 70% of the declared expense.
- Rooms with a capacity between 401 and 1,500 people: 75% of the declared expense.
- Rooms with a capacity of more than 1,500 people: 80% of the declared expense.
The Catalan government has also announced an €800,000 subsidy for the programming of live music events.
The funding, which applies to festivals, concert series and venue operators, can be used for all projects developed from 1 June 2020 that have ended between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.
Festivals and concert series must have included a minimum of four concerts in Catalonia in order to be eligible. Venue operators must have hosted a minimum of 20 concerts with paid admission in order to apply. Applicants may receive up to €45,000.
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Results from Spain’s festival study published
The Catalan government says it has gleaned “valuable information” about how major events could take place in the future from a study of three festivals that took place in early July.
The three festivals – Cruïlla, Vida and Canet Rock – went ahead using recommendations from the Love of Lesbian test concert which they co-organised along with Primavera Sound (which organised the Primacov test), Sónar and Festival de Jazz de Barcelona.
All three festivals took place without social distancing and with attendees wearing mandatory FFP2 masks. Entry to the festivals was dependent on a negative result from a Covid-19 rapid test.
Despite finding a high number of infections among concertgoers, the department of culture says its study will prove highly beneficial when it comes to improving protocols and security measures for festivals.
The department’s study found that 2,279 attendees of the festivals contracted Covid-19 – 76% more than the cases recorded in a control group.
The department’s study found that 2,279 attendees of the festivals contracted Covid-19
The nearly 50,000 people who attended the events were compared to a control group with the same breakdown of age, sex, residence and immunity during the days the events took place.
The study found that 466 attendees of Vida, 956 of Canet Rock and 857 of Cruïlla tested positive for the coronavirus in the two weeks following the concerts.
In the control group, the number of cases detected on the same dates of the events was 197, 525 and 571, respectively.
The study expected that a maximum of 1,437 infections would be recorded after the festivals, but this was exceeded by 842, bringing the total number of cases to 2,279.
The government says a small percentage of the festivalgoers – 271 people – attended one of the events despite testing positive for the coronavirus beforehand, though it’s unclear how they were admitted.
The department also pointed out that previous pilots took place when there was a “much less transmissible variant” of Covid
The secretary of public health, Carmen Cabezas, defended the number of infections, explaining that in early July – and in a context of 8,000 cases a day – the festivals “were just one more factor among all those that occurred at that moment”.
In early July, Catalonia was grappling with the fifth coronavirus wave and contagion rates were already at high-risk levels.
The department also pointed out that previous pilots took place when there was a “much less transmissible variant” of Covid.
Currently, in Catalonia, concerts are allowed to take place with up to 1,000 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors or indoor spaces with enhanced ventilation, access control and prior seat allocation.
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Catalonia welcomes back three major festivals
Catalonia has hosted a triple whammy of festivals in the past fortnight, which will help determine the blueprint for how major events could take place in Spain going forward.
Cruïlla, Vida and Canet Rock took inspiration from 27 March’s Love of Lesbian test concert at the Palau Sant Jordi arena which they helped to organise, along with Primavera Sound (which organised the Primacov test), Sónar and Festival de Jazz de Barcelona.
In line with the recommendations from the test concert, all three festivals took place without social distancing and with attendees wearing mandatory FFP2 masks. Entry to the festivals was dependent on a negative result from a Covid-19 rapid test.
The festivals worked with the same medical partners behind the Love of Lesbian concert – the Germans Trias Hospital and Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation – and gained the approval of Catalonia’s Ministries of Health, Culture and Home Affairs.
Vida festival kicked off the week’s festivities with a three-day event in Vilanova de la Geltrú between 1–3 July that attracted a total of 27,200 attendees.
Typically, 30–40% of Vida’s line-up is international artists but this year the festival opted for an entirely domestic bill, with headline performances from Vetusta Morla, Nathy Peluso and Love of Lesbian.
“I believe that Barcelona is once again the centre of the world in terms of organising events and live music”
Catalonia’s festival frenzy continued with Canet Rock on 3 July, held from 6 pm to nearly 6 am, with an audience of 22,200 people.
The Canet de Mar-based festival also opted for a domestic-only line-up, featuring Doctor Prats, Oques Grasses, and Itaca Band.
Cruïlla rounded off the week with more than 50,000 attendees at the Parc del Fórum (also home to Primavera Barcelona).
The three-dayer took place between 8–10 July and was the only festival that opted for an international bill which including the Irish indie band Two Door Cinema Club.
“We have the feeling of total success, we can feel proud and happy, and we can get our chest out. I believe that Barcelona is once again the centre of the world in terms of organising events and live music,” says Jordi Herreula, Cruïlla.
“[Rapid Covid-19 screening] could become a solution that can be extended to the rest of society, however, the model is subject to improvements that we will outline in collaboration with the scientific community.”
Barcelona: Sixth night of protests over jailed rapper
Barcelona has endured a sixth consecutive night of street protests, following the jailing of Catalan rapper, Pablo Hasél.
Hasél was arrested last Tuesday night (16 February) following a 24-hour stand-off in a university with dozens of supporters to avoid a prison sentence.
The artist, who is known for his radical leftist views, was sentenced to nine months in prison in 2018 under a security law known in Spain as the “gag law” for insulting the Spanish monarchy and praising terrorist violence in his music and on his Twitter account.
— Miki (@miquelpascual_) February 20, 2021
The rapper’s imprisonment has set off a major debate about free speech in Spain and sparked ongoing protests in Barcelona.
Last night, protestors in dark clothes marched through the city centre to the National Police headquarters and threw objects including rocks, bottles, rubbish and firecrackers at officers.
According to the police, around a thousand protesters took part in last night’s protest and seven arrests were made.
Sisena nit. pic.twitter.com/lM9BlsF28a
— Jordi Borràs (@jordiborras) February 21, 2021
More than 200 artists have signed a petition against his jail term and calling for the ‘gag law’ to be changed.
Government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said that in response to the Hasel case, the government had “expressed its willingness to provide a much more secure framework for freedom of expression” and that the reform was in its early stages.
Catalonia permits 500-cap. concerts
After eight months of closure, Catalonian venues are now permitted to reopen at 50% capacity with a maximum of 500 patrons.
The reopening comes as the autonomous community enters phase one of a rollback of restrictions, “despite living at a time of very high epidemiological risk”.
The curfew from 10 pm till 6 am will remain in place, though the Catalan Federation of Associations of Restoration and Musical Activities has asked the government to extend it to 1 am on weekends and at least until 2 am on New Year’s Eve.
The federation has also asked that the government reconsiders the restrictions for discos and nightclubs, which are still not permitted to reopen.
Catalonia’s plan for the reopening of activities includes four phases. If the infection rate allows, phase two will take effect from 7 December, phase three from 21 December and phase four from 4 January.
Discos and nightclubs are still not permitted to reopen
Phase two will permit concert halls to operate at 70% capacity but still with a maximum of 500 patrons – a restriction which will not change until after phase four.
Carmen Zapata, manager at The Association of Concert Halls of Catalonia (ASACC), told Catalan news agency ACN that the measure is “on the right track” and will have a positive “psychological” effect for dozens of venues that have been closed for many months.
However, according to Zapata, after surveying its 85 associates, the rooms that they plan to open from this Monday do not exceed 50%. In Barcelona, he has specified, they will only open between 18 and 20.
Earlier this month the Catalonian government announced its first support package for the culture sector, totalling €8.4 million, to benefit companies, performers and live event technicians.
The package contains two lines of subsidies; the first will offer compensation for the operating costs of companies and cultural organisations affected by the pandemic and the second will compensate Catalonian artists who were hired for concerts or festivals, inside or outside the autonomous community, but ultimately could not perform due to cancellations.
Catalonia rolls out €8.4m aid package for culture sector
The Catalonian government has announced its first support package for the culture sector, totalling €8.4 million, to benefit companies, performers and live event technicians.
The package contains two lines of subsidies; the first will offer compensation for the operating costs of companies and cultural organisations affected by the pandemic.
While the second will compensate Catalonian artists who were hired for concerts or festivals, inside or outside the autonomous community, but ultimately could not perform due to cancellations.
The maximum amount of the grant is established based on 40% of the fee for each cancelled concert or show that was planned within the framework of a music festival.
The government has also established a €3.6m aid for professionals and technicians in the live events sector who have been affected by the crisis and “could not benefit from the general coverage of the unemployment system due to the peculiarities of their profession, characterized especially by intermittence”.
Those who have had an income of up to €18,555 between January and September will be eligible for a €750 grant until 31 January.
“The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government”
The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government,” says prime minister Pedro Sánchez. “We expand the protection of your workers with new measures that will help alleviate the serious consequences of Covid-19. We will continue to defend culture, now more necessary than ever.”
The news comes after months of campaigning, which saw the Spanish production sector take to the streets for national and global #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests, as well as benefit events such as Live Nation Spain’s ‘Crew Nation Presents…’ which raised more than €150,000 for touring crew and staff.
Elsewhere in Spain’s live music sector, struggling venues are preparing for a livestream event dubbed ‘The Last Concert?’ to highlight the severity of the situation facing the country’s cultural facilities, due to ‘lack of action and political will’ from the government.
At least 15 music venues have permanently closed already, according to AP Musicales.
Spain is currently operating under a six-month state of emergency, declared last week by the government, which is set to remain in force until 9 May 2021 with periodic reviews.
The decree will allow Spain’s regional governments to order an overnight curfew to run from 11 pm to 6 am, or to begin and finish an hour earlier or later.
Promoters including Live Nation Spain, Doctor Music, Madness Live and Producciones Animadas have commented on the new wave of measures for IQ.
Spain: Catalonia increases concert hall capacities
Following the “red alert” protests which took place across Spain last week, the capacity of cultural spaces in Catalonia has been increased to 70% but will be capped at 1,000 visitors.
The increase from the 50% capacity limit, imposed in the wake of the pandemic, was approved yesterday by the Civil Protection Plan of Catalonia (Procicat).
The news measures will affect Barcelona and 15 municipalities in its metropolitan area, which include venues such as the Gran Teatre del Liceu (2,292), the Auditori ( 2,200), and the Palau de la Música (1,970) – all of which will be impinged by the 1,000-cap limit.
“The maximum number of [guests] leaves us the same as we were”
“That maximum number of spectators leaves us the same as we were. If we cannot put more than 1,000 people in the Liceu, we will stay close to that 50% that we already had,” Valentí Oviedo, general director of the Gran Teatre told El Periodico.
Robert Brufau, head of the Auditori, told El Periodico: “Subscribers have already been warned that it would be difficult to keep the seats that were historically reserved in Room 1. In Room 2, with 586 seats, a greater number of spectators will now be able to enter.”
Last week, some 16,000 live entertainment professionals took to the streets of Spain as part of the increasingly international #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest movement.
Prominent buildings and venues in 28 cities were illuminated red to raise awareness of the state’s perceived lack of support for the sector during the coronavirus crisis.
Outdoor events in Barcelona avoid renewed ban
Festival organisers, concert promoters and venue operators in Barcelona have managed to overturn new regulations that would have forced all events and venues to close down again amid an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Due to a recent spike in cases, Catalonian health minister Alba Vergés urged residents on Friday (18 July) to stay at home for the next 15 days and only go out to buy food, go to work or for health reasons. The government also announced that cinemas, theatres and nightclubs would once again be forced to close, with gatherings of over ten people banned.
The reintroduction of more stringent measures in the metropolitan area of Barcelona and in the province of Lleida follows previous stay-at-home orders that affected around 400,000 Catalans earlier this month.
In response to the announcement, representatives from Barcelona festivals including Festival Cruïlla, Festival Pedralbes and Grec Festival, as well as the the association of Catalan venues (Asociación de Salas de Conciertos de Cataluña – Assac), took to social media using the hashtag #CulturaEsSegura (Culture is safe) to protest the re-closing of venues and festivals throughout the region.
“95% of Asacc venues have been closed since March, with no programming scheduled due to the uncertainty of reopening dates. The few that have opened have done so with minimal capacities for musical performances,” reads a post on the Asacc Twitter page.
“We cannot place the responsibility of new outbreaks on venues and not keep track of street gatherings, raves, private parties and beach bars. Enough stigmatising of clubs, music and culture!
“Venues are not the origin of new outbreaks.”
Following the complaints, Catalan civil protection society Procicat (El Pla territorial de protecció civil de Catalunya) posted new guidelines, approving the carrying out of cultural events in “exceptional circumstances”.
“Venues are not the origin of new outbreaks”
According to the guidance, events in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia are still permitted to go ahead provided they are in remote areas; take place outdoors; have previously been assessed and approved by Procicat; maintain social distancing; implement track and tracing systems; and take extra hygiene precautions.
It is also noted that organisers must be willing “to make maximum capacity requirements more flexible, if the health authorities require more restricted conditions.”
The exceptions allow for the Cruïlla XXS shows, over 200 open-air events organised by the Cruïlla Festival team, to go ahead this month, along with performances by Van Morrison, Diana Navarro and Paco Ibanez, as part of Fes Pedralbes. Barcelona’s Grec Festival is also taking place, with a programme of dance, theatre and music.
The Sala Barcelona concert series, which is taking place in the grounds of the Montjuïc Castle, has also been given the green light to host performances over the coming weeks. Upcoming concerts at the venue include DJs Ikram Bouloum and Santa Marts, pop band Los Retrovisores, folk group River Omelet and film score composer Niño de Elche.
However, the new restrictions saw the team at Barcelona festival Primavera Sound cancel the next two weeks of its Nits del Fórum series due to “the uncertainty provoked by contradictory recommendations and restrictions”.
“Despite complying with all the required safety requirements, despite being a concert series lauded by the authorities and despite the warm welcome received from fans over the past few weeks, Nits del Fórum has decided to take a break,” reads a Primavera Sound statement.
Organisers state they have voluntarily suspended activity until 31 July, in anticipation of “a clearer and more definite framework of limitations and recommendations for all”.
All affected concerts will be reprogrammed for new dates.
Elsewhere in Spain, outdoor events with up to 800 people are permitted, with concert series promoted by Live Nation and the Music Republic, as well as shows at the Wizink Center and Ifema exhibition centre taking place over the coming weeks.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Venues closed as major cities go back into lockdown
Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has become the latest major live entertainment market to be put back into lockdown amid a surge in new coronavirus cases.
The re-imposition of lockdown restrictions for six weeks – which will see Melburnians permitted to leave their houses only for work, education, exercise or to buy essential supplies – follows a spike in Covid-19 infections in the state of Victoria, which as of 13.30 local time today (8 July) had recorded some 147 new cases over the past 24 hours.
The abrupt halt to Melbourne’s gradual reopening will come as a blow to nightlife businesses in the city. Speaking to the ABC, Guy Lawson, who owns Melbourne’s Napier Hotel, says he hopes the hotel survives the second shutdown but fears “a lot” of venues will not.
“The second round of lockdown will put on a huge amount of pressure for the industry. Once we are able to reopen, it will no doubt be under restrictions again for some time,” Adam Betts, co-owner of the city’s Bonny Bar, tells alcohol trade title the Shout.
“Needless to say, revenue will be right down when we reopen for many months,” he adds, “and the economy will be in a recession. With reduced revenue, we will also have an increase in costs as a double blow.”
In Spain, local lockdowns are in place in Catalonia and Galicia
The second lockdown in Melbourne follows similar restrictions aimed at containing a second wave of Covid-19 infections elsewhere in the world.
In Spain, local lockdowns in Catalonia and, more recently, Galicia are proving similarly difficult for venue operators; in Catalonia, in north-eastern Spain, around 400,000 people are subject to stay-at-home orders, while in the north-western region of Galicia gatherings are once more restricted to ten people, in a local lockdown that affects an area of 70,000 people. Capacity at bars and restaurants is also limited to 50%.
Federal Germany has also seen several areas, including the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf in North Rhine-Westphalia, locked down after a spike in transmissions, with the English city of Leicester similarly currently subject to a local lockdown.
While music venues have yet to reopen in the UK, English bars, pubs and restaurants were permitted to reopen from Saturday 4 July. This, however, was not the case in Leicester, where residents face fines of up to £3,200 for repeatedly breaching stay-at-home orders.
As in Gütersloh, there is resentment in Leicester – home to around 330,000 people – that the rest of the country is being allowed to open up while their city is left behind. “It shows they have neglected Leicester,” resident Dhansukh Rana tells the Market Correspondent.
According to Leicester’s Curve Theatre, the 902-seat performing arts venue is losing £25,000 a day as a result of lockdown restrictions.
In China, customers may not spend any longer than two hours inside any one venue
Several US states, meanwhile, have been reintroducing restrictions as the country heads towards three million confirmed Covid-19 cases. A recent survey by the newly formed National Independent Venue Association found 90% of its members say, in the absence of government support, they will be forced to close permanently if the lockdown lasts six months or longer.
In contrast, China – where the coronavirus outbreak began in late 2019 – has “largely return[ed] to normalcy: restaurants, hotels and bars are open, and domestic travel has been loosened up so business people are able to travel around China now,” according to hospitality expert Ian Ford. The most recent local lockdown in China ended on Saturday (4 July), with residents of areas of Beijing judged “low risk” once again allowed to travel around the country without having to be first tested for Covid-19.
However, according to the Chinese ministry of culture and tourism’s most recent reopening guidelines for indoor venues (including theatres, clubs and karaoke venues), that return to normality comes with several stipulations, including a two-hour time limit for customers.
According to the consumer protection section of the new guidelines, translated by Caixin, customers may not spend any longer than two hours inside any one indoor venue.
Additional restrictions include limiting entertainment venues to 50% of their normal capacity, while theatres are restricted to 30% and must leave at least one seat empty between every two people (ie ‘chequerboard seating’).
According to Caixin, the release of the guidelines on 22 June sparked heated debate among Chinese netizens: Some social media users argued that the two-hour time limit may actually backfire by speeding up the flow of customers, while others questioned how such a time limit could be strictly enforced.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Updated: Live industry reacts to Catalan leaders’ arrests
The team behind Barcelona festival Primavera Sound is among those to have released a statement in support of “the free exercise of democracy”, following the arrest of nine leaders of the 2017 Catalan independence movement.
“In the face of the guilty verdict from the Spanish Supreme Court against the Catalan politicians and activists, Primavera Sound manifests its unconditional support to the free exercise of democracy and of dialogue to reach an understanding to resolve political conflicts,” reads the statement from the Primavera team, which also runs events in Portugal and Los Angeles.
“The criminalisation of peaceful movements and civil demonstrations sets a dangerous precedent for everybody.”
The statement follows yesterday’s (14 October) sentencing of nine politicians and activists to 9 – 13 years in prison for “sedition” and “misuse of public funds”. A further three defendants were found guilty of “disobedience” and released on bail.
The individuals on trial organised the Catalan independence referendum in 2017 and declared independence of Catalonia, a semi-autonomous region in northeast Spain, from the rest of the country. The referendum and ruling were later declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
“From the team of people that make up Primavera Sound,” continues the statement, “we want to show our empathy and support to all those condemned and to their families at this time. And, as always, we call for debate and serene, civil and peaceful expression.”
The organisers of Festival Cruilla, which also takes place at Primavera Sound home Parc del Forum, shared an image with the Catalan words: La presó no es la solució – imprisonment is not a solution, in English.
“The criminalisation of peaceful movements and civil demonstrations sets a dangerous precedent for everybody”
The Catalan association of agents, promoters and managers (Associació de Representants, Promotors i Mànagers de Catalunya) has also spoken out against the arrests.
“As a representative body of the live music sector, the ARC Association expresses its rejection of the Supreme Court’s condemning sentence against the Catalan social and political leaders,” reads a statement on the association’s Twitter page.
Catalan venues and cultural centres have also showed their solidarity with the jailed leaders, with the Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture, La Nau Bòstik and Sala Flyhard among those to close their doors in protest.
Barcelona opera house el Gran Teatre del Liceu issued a statement to saying, “we defend political dialogue as the only pathway for the urgent resolution of this conflict.” Programming is continuing as normal as the opera house, which serves as “an open space for freedom of expression”.
Another figure of the classical music scene, the Catalan choral society (Orfeó Català), weighed in to say that the sentencing “worsens the situation in the country and leaves the conflict further from being resolved”.
A whole host of Catalan artists have also expressed support for the leaders, including pop group El Amics de les Arts, folk band Els Catarres, reggae group Oques Grasses, guitarist Mazoni and singers Sílvia Pérez Cruz, Núria Graham, Cesk Freixas and Gerard Quintana.