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Austria’s live sector unites for ‘Back to Live’ campaign

Behemoths from across Austria’s live entertainment industry are banding together for a campaign aimed at boosting the sector’s post-lockdown recovery.

The ‘Back to Live’ campaign kicked off today (8 July) with the launch of a portal that gives an overview of upcoming cultural and sporting events, alongside exclusive discounts and offers to entice fans.

The initiative, launched by the Austrian Event Industry Association (IGÖV) and CTS Eventim Austria’s oeticket, comes shortly after the country reopened at the beginning of July.

According to the organisers, the joint initiative is intended to benefit all industries connected to live entertainment including sport, culture, tourism, hospitality, events and music, and accelerate the return to “normal economic conditions”.

The alliance has already attracted more than 120 players including Arcadia Live, Arena Wien, Barracuda Music, Hoanzl Agentur, Leutgeb Entertainment, Live Nation, Masters of Dirt, Musikverein Graz, Posthof Linz, Scheibmaier & Schilling, Show Factory and Szene Wien, from the live music sector.

“With ‘Back to Live’ we convey confidence and joie de vivre after 15 months of almost no events. A flourishing event industry helps many industries, such as the badly suffering city hotel business, to make their comeback and support the artists,” says Ewald Tatar, president of IGÖV and MD at Barracuda Music.

“The campaign will invite everyone to take part so that we can actually make the comeback with our combined strengths”

Georg Hoanzl, IGÖV board member and founder of Hoanzl agency, adds: “The ‘Back to live’ campaign will invite everyone to take part so that we can actually make the comeback with our combined strengths. It is a joint effort that I am happy to support in order to offer the live acts a stage and a platform for the entire culture and event industry.”

Christoph Klingler, CEO at CTS Eventim Austria, says: “Today’s presentation of ‘Back to Live’ is the impetus for a major joint project aimed at the entire industry. We get a ball rolling so that we can get started together and support each other.

“After months of intensive negotiations with politicians to make the comeback possible, we are back with ‘good news’. The concert halls and sports stadiums are being filled again.”

The live sector has returned to business faster than expected after the Austrian government brought forward its date for mass gatherings to restart.

Since 1 July, all events have been permitted to go ahead at full capacity, including standing events, both indoor and outdoor.

Social distancing and masks are not be required, but event attendees still have to meet one of three rules to gain admission: they must be vaccinated; they must be able to provide a negative Covid test; or they must be able to prove that they have recovered from a Covid infection.


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Austria: Live biz blasts EU for blocking funding

A coalition of Austrian live entertainment businesses has warned that the European Union’s decision to deny it emergency aid could deliver a “fatal blow” to an already struggling sector.

The Austrian government had planned to provide the country’s ailing nightlife industry with a second so-called fixed-cost subsidy (Fixkostenzuschuss II) – a payment intended to support companies with little or no business throughout autumn/winter 2020. However, the plan is not popular with Brussels, which has reportedly asked for detailed information about the subsidy, which would primarily benefit entertainment and tourism businesses.

According to Vindobona, the European Commission – whose approval is necessary for the state aid – takes issue with both the size of the package (‘phase one’ was worth €8 billion) and its duration, until 2021.

The EU’s objection to the bail-out has taken Austrian politicians by surprise, with finance minister Gernot Blümel quoted as saying: “It is bizarre that Austria has to prove that this economic catastrophe really exists.”

“If the EU says this is not a catastrophe, I no longer understand the world”

Representatives of the Austrian Event Industry Association (Interessengemeinschaft Österreichische Veranstaltungswirtschaft, IGOEV), which was formed earlier this year, are similarly bewildered, with an angry Christoph Klingler, the CEO of CTS Eventim Austria, exclaiming: “Apparently, Brussels is prepared to accept an Austria without culture and events while it concerns itself with the technical details.”

“The culture and events industry is on the ground,” adds Ewald Tatar, head of leading promoter Barracuda Music. “If the EU says that this is not a catastrophe, then I no longer understand the world.”

“The consequences” of blocking the phase-two subsidy “will be dramatic: Masses of bankruptcies, ruined livelihoods and an entire industry, with all its employees and service providers, having to start again from scratch,” says Matthias Rotermund of Live Nation Austria. “The entertainment industry will take years to get back on its feet.”

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week announced the tightening of coronavirus restrictions amid an increase in daily cases of Covid-19, including limiting mass gatherings to 1,500 people. The country previously had one of the most liberal attitudes towards live events in Europe, allowing up to 10,000 people in stadia with social distancing.

 


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