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Belgium enjoys first festival weekend back

Hundreds of thousands of music fans attended festivals across Belgium in the last few days, marking the country’s first big festival weekend since restrictions were relaxed.

Paradise City, Alcatraz, Leuven Air and Jazz Middelheim were among the events to take advantage of the Belgium federal government’s Covid Safe Ticket (CST) to do away with social distancing, masks, and the previous 5,000-capacity limit.

The CTS launched last Friday (13 August) for outdoor events of over 1,500 people to certify that all attendees are either fully vaccinated or have returned a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 48 hours. The certification will apply to indoor events from 1 September.

Dance festival Paradise City, which took place between 13–15 at Ribaucourt Castle in Perk, Steenokkerzeel, welcomed a total of 25,500 festivalgoers for its three-day extravaganza.

Those attending who weren’t fully vaccinated could take a rapid test at the festival’s test centre for the cost of €15. It was reported that, of the 3,300 tests taken at the festival, a total of six people tested positive – all of whom were sent home.

There were no infections among the campers which is “proof that government protocols work,” says Paradise City co-founder, Gilles De Decker. “This offers hope for the entire event sector.”

“”After a long period of uncertainty, we were finally back to doing what we are passionate about”

Alcatraz also took place over the weekend, welcoming 12,000 fans per day to Sports Campus Lange Munte in Kortrijk for performances from the likes of Epica, Kreator and Jinjer.

The hard rock and metal festival chose to offer PCR tests onsite rather than rapid tests, which were free of charge for those who hadn’t used up all of their government-funded PCR tests or €56 for those who had.

“After a long period of uncertainty, we were finally back to doing what we are passionate about: creating a gathering that encompasses all facets of the metal genre for our precious inmates to enjoy,” say the organisers.

“Because of the challenging nature of organising this year’s edition, we were even more compelled to make sure Alcatraz Festival 2021 would be absolutely impeccable! We confronted every hurdle head-on and succeeded in organising a safe, but thrilling festival thanks to you metalheads.”

Leuven Air and Jazz Middelheim, which also took place last weekend, did not build their own test villages as it was “too expensive,” according to the organisers. “We should have passed on the costs to our audience,” they added.

The implementation of the CST comes too late for major international festivals including Pukkelpop, Rock Werchter and Tomorrowland, which have already been called off.

 


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Spanish venues host silent concerts in protest

More than 125 Spanish venues hosted silent performances last night as part of ‘The Last Concert’ (#ElÚltimoConcierto), a campaign which was launched to demonstrate the severity of the situation facing music spaces if further support is not provided.

Apolo Hall in Barcelona and Madrid’s Café La Palma were among the iconic Spanish venues that livestreamed ‘performances’ with the message: “Yes … you are listening well. If urgent measures are not applied, the concert halls will remain silent”.

 

Artists including Amaia, Louise Sansom, Joan Colomo, Núria Graham, David Carabén, La Casa Azul, Miqui Puig, Ferran Palau, Suu, Egosex, Maria Arnal and El Petit de Cal Eril took part, silently expressed their impotence for the absence of live music or wielded signage that read ‘culture does not stop’ and ‘no more taxes’.

‘The Last Concert’ campaign initially launched with venues posting photos on social networks with the year of the venue’s foundation and the year 2020 with a question mark to demonstrate their struggle to survive beyond 2020.

According to the campaign group, 25,000 concerts in Spain will have been cancelled this year, causing a total loss of €120 million for concert halls. These spaces employ almost five thousand direct workers, whose jobs are at risk. Most Spanish venues have reportedly been shuttered for eight months and have received no financial income and/or are waiting to receive public aid and opening permits.

The initiative’s manifesto says “the action of all administrations is urgent” to save venues. “At its three levels, the state, the autonomous communities, and the city councils must listen to the shock measures that are proposed to reduce monthly expenses, commit to allocating financial aid for 2021 to compensate for the losses suffered so far, and guarantee the continuity of this basic and essential sector, such as the concert hall circuit.”

According to the Catalan government’s draft plan, cinemas, theatres, auditoriums and concert halls are expected to open on 23 November with 50% capacity and a maximum of 600 people. So far, the only cultural spaces that have been permitted to open are museums and exhibition halls at 33% of the capacity.

 


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Spanish venues prepare for ‘The Last Concert’

Music venues across Spain 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.

Next Wednesday (18 November), over 90 venues including Barcelona’s Apolo Hall and Madrid’s Café La Palma will come together and livestream performances from a host of artists, yet to be announced, for free from 8 pm.

The event is part of a wider campaign called #ElÚltimoConcierto (The Last Concert) which saw iconic Spanish venues post photos on social networks with the hashtag, as well as its year of foundation and the year 2020 with a question mark to suggest that the crisis may mean the closure of these spaces.

“We unite to celebrate what could be the last concert if the administration does not take the necessary economic and political measures to avoid the disappearance of this network of cultural facilities that are essential for the development of artists and cultural life of our territory,” the manifesto reads.

“As one of the sectors most affected by the crisis, with most spaces not yet able to open their doors, we need attention proportional to our degree of affectation if we want to avoid the impoverishment and cultural desertification of our territory, which unfortunately would be irreversible.”

“We unite to celebrate what could be the last concert if the gov does not take the necessary economic and political measures”

According to the campaign group, 25,000 concerts in Spain will have been cancelled this year, causing a total loss of €120 million for concert halls. These spaces employ almost five thousand direct workers, whose jobs are at risk.

At least 15 music venues have permanently closed already, according to AP Musicales.

Last week, prime minister Pedro Sánchez and his cabinet declared a six-month state of emergency, set to remain in force until 9 May, 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.

 


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