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No standing concerts in France until March 2021 – report

Amid a second wave of the coronavirus in Europe, French authorities are preparing to ban all standing concerts until 31 March 2021, according to local media.

It is an “open secret” that the government is preparing to outlaw all “horizontal concerts” (as opposed to vertical concerts – ie seated shows, where concertgoers’ seats are staggered vertically) until after the winter, when it is hoped a Covid-19 vaccine will be available, reports Les Jours.

The news would come as a particular blow to French festival businesses, which will be deep into preparations for their summer 2021 events (if not having started the festival build) by the time the proposed ban expires on 1 April.

It is hoped a Covid-19 vaccine will be available by April

According to France Festivals, more than 2,500 open-air events were cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions this summer.

Like many of its European neighbours, the French live business was showing signs of a return to normal in late summer, with health authorities even lifting the requirement for small events to socially distance patrons in August.

However, new restrictions were brought in earlier this month in light of rising coronavirus infections, and many cities, including Paris, are now subject to night-time curfews.

 


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Live absent from UK gov’s latest support scheme

The UK’s live music industry has found little comfort in the government’s latest support scheme, revealed today by chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The chancellor announced that the six-month Jobs Support Scheme, which is due to launch on 1 November and replace the furlough scheme, will be expanded to support businesses whose premises are legally required to shut for some period over winter as part of local or national restrictions.

Eligible businesses will receive cash grants up to £3,000 per month depending on rateable value and employees will receive two-thirds of their salary (or 67%), up to a maximum of £2,100 a month, from the government.

Under the scheme, employers will not be required to contribute to wages and will be asked to cover NICS and pension contributions only.

However, the live music industry – the vast majority of which remains shuttered due to restrictions, ranging from the six-month 10 pm curfew, to capacity restrictions with social distancing, to festivals simply not allowed to go ahead – has found no solace in the news

“The new scheme risks overlooking businesses who can technically open their doors but cannot trade economically”

Phil Bowdery, chair of Concert Promoters Association, says: “It seems like the chancellor has overlooked the plight of the tens of thousands of people in the live music industry who are currently unable to work due to Covid-related government restrictions. By focussing his criteria so narrowly on buildings which are allowed to open, the new scheme risks overlooking businesses who can technically open their doors but cannot trade economically due to the restrictions on gatherings in clubs, concert halls and arenas.

“Revenue in the live music industry will be down a catastrophic 80% in 2019 and over 70% of the employees in the industry are currently utilising the furlough scheme. If the government fails to ensure that all sectors that can’t work can access the new scheme, there will be tens of thousands of additional job losses coming before the end of the year.”

Greg Parmley, chair of the UK Live Music Group says: “The UK’s live music business remains one of the most viable industries in the UK, but is still unable to operate. Our entire workforce remains in jeopardy while venues, events and festivals are forced to remain shuttered. The chancellor’s most recent announcement gives no comfort to the skilled and talented workforce who face a desperate and bitter winter.”

“This is in no way reflective of the costs that are being incurred by businesses in our sector”

Michael Kill, CEO at Night Time Industries Association, says he tentatively welcomes the extension but believes the government’s financial support has not gone far enough to safeguard the sector.

“We will need further clarity on the details of the scheme and which businesses are eligible, given thousands of night-time economy businesses have been unable to open or operate for seven months now due to government restrictions. Most businesses and workers in the sector remain in desperation and despair, with no sector-specific or government understanding of the underlying issues the industry is facing or the financial implications of closures.”

“The introduction of the £3,000 monthly grant for businesses under local lockdown is insufficient and, for many, too little too late. This is in no way reflective of the costs that are being incurred by businesses in our sector and will do nothing to alleviate the significant financial burdens they are under.”

“Festivals, concerts and clubs, along with their support crews, cannot survive another winter with no income and no government scheme”

Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of Music Managers Forum says: “The plight of the UK’s live music business has been the focus of two parliamentary debates this week. With furlough ending in a few weeks time, our entire industry has desperately sought reassurance from the government that they understand how critical this situation is becoming, and what our country stands to lose if thousands upon thousands of viable jobs are not sufficiently supported and safeguarded.

“The chancellor has already had to backpedal once this week in a discussion about retraining, and following today’s announcement we need urgent clarification as to whether anyone in our sector will benefit from expansion to the Job Support Scheme. If there is no Plan B, then the impact will be catastrophic on the artists, freelance workers and small businesses on who British music depends.”

“We need urgent clarification as to whether anyone in our sector will benefit from expansion to the Job Support Scheme”

Andy Lenthall, GM of the Production Services Associations, says: “Once again, the technicians and technical suppliers to live events have been ignored. Thousands of individuals and businesses that rely on live events, still unable to work due to government restrictions and suffering catastrophic drops in revenues as a result will receive no support from the chancellor’s recent adjustments in support. All the pain, none of the gain.”

Steve Heap, general secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers says: “The chancellor’s new scheme appears to have failed the viable live music industry that was the first to close down. What is, effectively a furlough scheme extension aimed at businesses that have opened and now have to close again, completely misses out the businesses in the live music industry that have been closed for over six months. Festivals, concerts and clubs, along with their support crews, cannot survive another winter with no income and no government scheme to see them through until next spring.”

Businesses will only be eligible to claim the grant while they are subject to restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days. The scheme will begin on 1 November and will be available for six months, with a review in January.

 


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UK club owner to legally challenge gov’s 10pm curfew

Jeremy Joseph, the owner of London nightclub G-A-Y, has hired leading barristers from Kings Chambers and Simpson Miller Solicitors to challenge the government’s decision to implement a national curfew of 10 pm on hospitality premises.

The 10 pm curfew came into effect on 24 September and has reportedly caused a “catastrophic” drop in trade for businesses, believed to be solely due to the implementation of the new restrictions, according to a recent survey.

The pre-action protocol for judicial review saw the legal team, which is supported by G-A-Y’s longstanding legal and business affairs advisor and Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), write to the secretary of state, Matt Hancock at the department of health and social care with a formal challenge to the health protection which was amended to include the new curfew.

“The 10 pm curfew, which has now been in place for the last two weeks and has been detrimental to the hospitality sector including G-A-Y, makes absolutely no sense,” says Joseph.

“It does the opposite of protecting people by pushing them onto the street at the same time. They are going from being safe inside venues with staggered closing times to unsafe on overcrowded streets and overloaded public transport.

“This government has failed to show why the 10 pm curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation.

“This gov has failed to show why the curfew was put in place and has published no scientific evidence to substantiate its implementation”

“It seems to direct the blame for this action on the sector, consistently treating the night-time economy as a scapegoat when, in fact, we have years of operational experience of keeping customers safe, and have spent substantial time and effort making sure our venues are Covid secure.

“Enough is Enough. Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have to be made accountable and today we have instructed our legal team with the support of the NTIA to serve the government with a pre-action protocol for judicial review to challenge the decision to implement the national curfew of 10 pm on the hospitality sector.”

Dan Rosenberg, partner at Simpson Miller, said: “Our clients are well aware of the need to prioritise the health of the public and are supportive of any measures that help control the virus. Ultimately, their businesses in the long term depend upon the virus being brought under control.”

“However, while they have been supportive of other decisions made by government, including in relation to social distancing and other measures to protect the safety of their patrons, they fail to see the logic behind the arbitrary decision for all venues to close at 10 pm.”

The new restrictions affect businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants) – along with social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls.

Concert venues and theatres are permitted to stay open past the 10 pm curfew, though only if the performance has already started.

In addition, the new £10,000 fines for those who breach social distancing legislation will be extended from individuals to businesses.

 


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New restrictions on live entertainment in the UK

British prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a 10pm curfew on music venues as part of a swath of new restrictions intended to combat a second wave of Covid-19.

Johnson addressed the House of Commons this afternoon (22 September) following a briefing with scientific advisors yesterday. Among the newly announced restrictions, which come into force tomorrow (23 September), is a rule that businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants) – along with social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls – must close by 10pm.

IQ understands the government guidance will state that concert halls, theatres and cinemas may stay open beyond 10pm, but only if the performance started before the curfew. Additionally, venues may not serve alcohol past that time.

The new restrictions, which come as new UK coronavirus cases approach the 5,000 mark, dash industry hopes for a quick return to ‘stage five’ – ie non-socially distanced – shows, with the current ‘stage four’ guidelines, in force since August, set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Guidance will state that venues may stay open beyond 10pm, but only if the performance started before the curfew

In a live broadcast at 8pm this evening, the prime minister is expected to tell the nation that the measures could last up to six months.

Johnson also indicated there would be a halt on all planned ‘pilot’ events (such as the recent Palladium and Clapham Grand test shows) from 1 October, and an end to bar service in pubs and restaurants, which will now be table service only.

In addition, the new £10,000 fines for those who breach social distancing legislation will be extended from individuals to businesses.

While Johnson has insisted the new measures do not mark a return to lockdown (for instance, schools, colleges and universities remain open), the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, today urged the government to extend furlough and wage-support schemes to aid those left out of work – a key demand of the music industry backed #LetTheMusicPlay and #WeMakeEvents campaigns.

 


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Festival Republic withdraws appeal over Wireless licensing restrictions

Festival Republic has withdrawn an appeal lodged in November with Haringey Council regarding licensing restrictions for this year’s Wireless festival. The new restrictions demand reduced noise levels and a final night 9.30pm curfew for the festival, which has taken place in north London’s Finsbury Park since 2014.

The restrictions came into place following a campaign led by residents’ group Friends of Finsbury Park (FOFP) and supported by Hackney and Islington Councils. The campaigners cite antisocial behaviour and public disruption as motivations for their objection to the festival.

The festival promoters initially appealed the decision, stating that the earlier curfew and noise restrictions would “seriously damage” Wireless’s international reputation. The appeal argued: “Headline artists will be deterred from appearing and the enjoyment of the audience will be materially diminished.”

“Headline artists will be deterred from appearing and the enjoyment of the audience will be materially diminished”

However, Festival Republic this week withdrew the appeal at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court after reaching an agreement about sound levels with Haringey Council.

Despite the apparent compromise, campaigners remain displeased with the outcome. Martin Bell, a FOFP member calls the measures “a betrayal of those who call for tougher controls on the event.”

Festival Republic has been contacted for comment.

Wireless festival is the UK’s biggest urban music festival, last year welcoming almost 40,000 festivalgoers over three days of music from J Cole, Post Malone and Stormzy, among others.

A full copy of the Haringey Council licensing report can be read here.

 


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Hackney curfew: ‘marginalised communities will suffer most’

Campaigners protesting the controversial new Hackney curfew legislation have spoken about how the policy will potentially affect marginalised communities the most. Speaking at Friday’s protest (27 July), a number of protesters spoke to local media, saying LGBTQ, BME and women-friendly music venues are at the biggest risk of disappearance because of the new nightlife legislation.

Speaking to the Hackney Citizenprotest co-organiser Jo Alloway said: “Hackney is renowned for its diversity and its nightlife – it’s something people specifically come to Hackney for.

“Each venue is a hub of community, whether that’s LGBTQ nightlife, Caribbean nightlife – it’s a safe space where people can enjoy their own culture.”

As Johnny Dillon, another co-organiser of the protest, explains, the fear is that as ‘minority-friendly’ clubs and venues close, new ones won’t be able to open and replace them. Instead, corporate brands and chains will take their place, without thought for the cultural spaces being lost. Talking to NME, Dillon warned against places like Shoreditch turning into Leicester Square.

“We’re seeing pubs and clubs – for the LGBTQ community, and the BME community, and spaces for women – close all the time,” he says. “I think that is really being put at risk by the proposal that Hackney Council have just passed.”

“It’s the council and the licensing committee that have pushed this through.”

“Hackney is one of the few places where those still exist in number. If those spaces are to start to close, new ones aren’t going to open.”

After the news of the Hackney curfew broke, London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé came under fire for appearing not to fight against the plans. Many questioned what the role of Night Czar was for, if not to protest against potentially damaging legislation such as this.

In a statement released shortly after the initial backlash, before the protests took place, she explained her intention to get all parties involved around a table to talk out the problems with the new policies; she has demanded an urgent meeting with the mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville. In the statement, she does not address how the policy may affect the lives of residents from minority backgrounds.

“I’m sure there is a positive way forward,” it reads. “My role is to help get everyone to sit around the table, talking together, to represent the needs of the night-time economy in those conversations, and ultimately to find a solution that works for everyone.

“I’ve used this convening power on a number of different issues…and it really can work.”

Whilst many protesters agree the Night Czar has dropped the ball somewhat in her response to the curfew legislation, Dillon maintains it isn’t solely her that should be held responsible for the decision.

“It’s the council and the licensing committee that have pushed this through.”

 


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Hackney Council votes to impose midnight curfew on new venues

The London Borough of Hackney’s council has this week unanimously approved controversial licensing policies that impose a weekend midnight curfew on new venues in the area. The decision goes against the council’s own poll of residents, in which some 73% voted against the measures.

New venues that wish to get around the curfew and prolong their hours will need to be able to prove to authorities that doing so will not provoke antisocial behaviour. Critics of the policy have already commented on the difficulty of this task.

Councillor Emma Plouviez, part of the team that drafted the policy, has defended the council’s actions to Resident Advisor. She says: “The onus will be on new applicants to demonstrate they are responsible, understand the pressures on the area and that their business will not have a negative impact on the area if they want to open late.

“We will help and support them to do that.”

The decision goes against the council’s own poll of residents, in which some 73% voted against the measures.

Despite her defence, many media, residents and local venue owners are still unhappy with the decision. In particular, critics are calling out London’s night czar Amy Lamé, who along with Mayor Sadiq Khan, is said to have been discussing the move for the past year. Responding, the NME published a somewhat scathing article on the decline of London’s nightlife during Lamé’s tenure.

Defending her role, the night czar tweeted that licensing decisions were not her responsibility.

Beyond the midnight curfew, the Special Policy Area (SPA) in Shoreditch, which is already home to well known music venues the Old Blue Last and Village Underground, is set to expand. For many, this means new venues will find it difficult to open in the first place. The news has lead local campaign group We Love Hackney to label the new policies “some of the toughest restrictions on nightlife in Britain” and a “gift to big corporates.”

Since facing criticism, Lamé has announced she has requested an urgent meeting with the council to discuss the way forward for nightlife in the borough.

 


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