Dansk Live chair Lars Månsson Sloth steps down
Dansk Live is on the lookout for a new chair following the resignation of longtime board member Lars Månsson Sloth.
Sloth, who has also stepped down from his position at music organisation Gimle, joined the board at the Danish trade body in 2012 and has served as chair since 2018.
“Lars has been of great importance to the association’s development in recent years, and his routine and his friendly and calm disposition will be missed,” it says a statement.
“Lars was a great support to the secretariat’s work”
Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at Dansk Live, credits Sloth for his crisis management work during the pandemic.
“The dialogue between the board and the secretariat of Dansk Live is very close, and my collaboration has been particularly close with Lars,” says Marcher. “Lars has helped to move Dansk Live as an association – both organisationally and politically.
“Lars was a great support to the secretariat’s work, not least during the corona crisis, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him many times for the cooperation”
Deputy chair Søren Eskildsen will take over temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.
Danish festivals report strong resurgence
Ticket sales for many festivals in Denmark this summer are on a par with pre-Covid levels, according to promoters.
Events including Roskilde Festival, Smukfest and Copenhell are already sold out, with a number of others reporting near sell-outs.
Dansk Live adds that ticket sales are also booming at Northside and Tinderbox, with both on course to break their previous records.
“In terms of sales, both festivals are going great,” says Pernille Høll, head of marketing at Down the Drain, which runs the two festivals. “Northside gets its second or best year in history. Tinderbox gets its best.”
“It is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music”
Elsewhere, Jelling Music Festival is also on track for an impressive comeback.
“We can clearly see that people are really looking forward to getting on the grass again,” says co-founder and manager Lars Charlie Mortensen. “We see this clearly in ticket sales. People buy all kinds of tickets at the moment – both day tickets and for the whole festival, and we expect to get a full house.”
Dansk Live’s head of secretariat Esben Marcher is delighted with how the market is rebounding.
“We can only interpret the high sales figures as meaning that the audience still loves live music,” he says. “After some hard years for all live organisers, it is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music.”
“It is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved”
While Nibe Festival manager Peter Møller Madsen reports similarly strong sales, he observes that teenagers have been slower to buy tickets than in the pre-pandemic era – a trend he attributes to the two-year break.
“They have not inherited the tradition,” he says. “However, we believe that they will probably come, so we are very confident.”
Marcher adds: “Although overall ticket sales at the Danish festivals are doing well, it is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved. We have been without the great festival experiences for two years, and thus there are two new vintages who have not yet been to a festival, and thus may not be so eager to get tickets. However, that trend will hopefully improve over time.”
Dansk Live survey highlights Covid talent drain
A new report by Dansk Live highlights the exodus of backstage talent from the concert industry as a result of the pandemic.
The Danish trade association surveyed the country’s concert and festival organisers during February and March 2022, with 17.2% reporting they have fewer employees today than in 2019.
Dansk Live says a large number of roles have not been re-occupied since the business returned from the coronavirus shutdown, emphasising there is still work to be done to return the domestic sector to full-strength.
The findings are in line with a trend seen across the international live music industry, with a UNESCO study showing that 10 million jobs had been lost across the international cultural industry during Covid-19.
“The consequences of the pandemic are long-lasting”
“Unfortunately, the survey confirms the trend we have also seen with our international colleagues, namely that there are fewer employees in the live industry now than before corona,” says Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at Dansk Live. “The consequences of the pandemic are long-lasting, and this decline is unfortunately a good example of this.”
Marcher, who has also warned of low confidence among organisers and suppliers and says it will take time for the “natural caution” to disappear, is echoing UNESCO’s calls for political support to aid the industry’s restart.
“It emphasises that there is still a need for the political side to focus on restarting the music and culture sector, so that, among other things, the live industry can get back on its feet after the corona,” he says.
Denmark: ‘Reopening is not a silver bullet’
Denmark’s live association Dansk Live says that the live industry continues to be challenged despite reopening.
On 5 February, Denmark became the first country in the EU to lift all coronavirus measures but Dansk Live warns that concert organisers are still facing major challenges.
“Although the majority of the country’s organisers have survived the crisis, the challenges are clear in many places,” says head of secretariat Esben Marcher.
“Not only has the audience not yet fully returned to the concerts. Many places are challenged on the crucial voluntary commitment, and also the prices of things like materials which are sky-high.”
“These organisers are now in a situation where there is no room for manoeuvre to make the necessary investments”
He continues: “The crisis has been both deep and long and despite compensation schemes and various pools, many have had to dig deep into savings, take out loans, etc. These organisers are now in a situation where there is no room for manoeuvre to make the necessary investments in organisation and facilities. At worst, it could hit them hard in the time to come.”
Marcher also warns of low confidence among organisers and suppliers and says it will take time for the “natural caution” to disappear.
“Internally in the industry, the crisis has left deep traces,” he says. “The dialogue between organisers and suppliers of all kinds takes place in many places in clear memory of the time we have been through. Confidence that the planned will be implemented must be rebuilt, and there is a natural caution that will probably only disappear when we have completed festivals and more concerts again.”
The head of secretariat is now proposing that the government create a new recovery pool for organisers who have been hit particularly hard by the crisis.
Denmark to lift all restrictions on 1 February
Denmark has announced plans to lift all remaining coronavirus limits on 1 February.
The country will no longer categorise Covid-19 as a “socially critical” illness, despite a recent surge in infections, wrote health minister Magnus Heunicke in a letter to the Danish parliament’s epidemiology committee.
The move, which will allow concerts and other events to go ahead without capacity restrictions, has been hailed as “unbelievably positive” by trade association Dansk Live.
“It’s unbelievably positive,” head of secretariat Esben Marcher tells Ekstra Bladet. “This means that the venues can once again do standing concerts. So now it is approaching that you can do things as you usually do. And we are of course happy about that.”
“There will be a focus on how we can revive volunteering after almost three years with corona”
However, Marcher stresses the sector will require financial assistance to help its get back on its feet and help fund courses for volunteers, with many venues and festivals dependent on volunteering to survive. The issue was raised during the
Speaking ahead of last weekend’s members forum, Kamilla Roed, head of volunteers and operations at Copenhell heavy metal festival, said: “There will of course be a focus on how we can revive volunteering after almost three years with corona. Whether it is a venue or a festival, there have been shutdowns and major changes. We need to share good experiences and ideas with each other so we all get back to our full potential.”
The news comes a day after several European markets eased restrictions. The Dutch government announced the conditional reopening of the cultural sector and the Norwegian government also rolled back restrictions and increased capacity limits for events, while Northern Ireland also announced a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions
Danish promoters call for clarity on restrictions
Concert organisers in Denmark are calling for clarity over Covid measures, with current restrictions due to expire on 16 January.
In a bid to combat the spike in omicron cases, music venues and other indoor cultural institutions were ordered to close their doors on 19 December.
Despite the Danish parliament quickly reopening compensation schemes for event organisers, smaller venues and artists, the sector is growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of guidance from the authorities about what happens next.
Esben Marcher, head of secretariat at national live music association Dansk Live, says clarification is crucial for venues and promoters going forward.
In many places, the drop in ticket sales has been quite marked
“Unfortunately, organisers have been in a similar situation in the past, and we know that preparation is crucial in the dialogue with guests, suppliers and performing artists,” he says.
“We hope and believe that we will return to normal after the current restrictions, but everyone should have the opportunity to prepare for what happens if the infection situation does not allow a phasing out of the restrictions.”
Marcher suggests the continued uncertainty was having a detrimental effect on ticket sales.
“Several venues have found that the public is reluctant to buy tickets for concerts that are set to take place on the other side of the restrictions,” he notes. “The picture is very different across the country, but in many places the drop in ticket sales has been quite marked. And it only gets worse with the current situation.
“Overall, this calls for the need for a recovery effort to be taken very seriously from a political point of view.”
Denmark’s music industry lost over 3 billion krone (€403m) in revenue in 2020 according to a new report commissioned by Dansk Live and the Danish Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Denmark drops all Covid-19 restrictions for live music
Denmark’s live industry is on the road to recovery after the government yesterday (1 September) dropped all remaining Covid-19 restrictions.
The requirements that have now lapsed include Corona pass requirements for indoor cultural and sporting events with more than 500 standing spectators, and for outdoor cultural and sporting events with more than 2,000 seated spectators. Social distancing has also been scrapped.
Corona passes will be required to gain entry to nightclubs until 10 September, after which point the government will no longer categorise Covid-19 as a “socially critical disease” or legally impose any Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is gratifying that restrictions are a thing of the past for the country’s concert organisers,” says Esben Marcher of Dansk Live – Denmark’s live music association.
“Now that corona is no longer considered a socially critical disease, we are facing a time of great reconstruction work. The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure and this is where our focus will be in the coming time.”
“The organisers must find a foothold after almost two years of complete or partial closure”
Minister for culture, Ane Halsboe Jørgensen, adds: “I am simply so happy that the cultural and sports life today can more or less say goodbye to the corona. For a long time, great demands have been made on culture to keep track of the pandemic.
“It has been necessary, but I am very pleased that we can now seriously begin a new chapter with a hopefully really good autumn for our cultural life.”
Denmark is the EU’s third-most vaccinated country, according to Our World in Data, with 71% of the population having received two shots.
The country was one of Europe’s first to impose a partial lockdown in March 2020 and one of the earliest to begin reopening, launching its Corona pass on 21 April this year.
Since that date, Dnanish restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, sports stadiums and hairdressing salons have been open for anyone who can prove that they are fully vaccinated, have a negative test result less than 72 hours old or contracted Covid within the past two to 12 weeks.
Danish gov unveils DKK 500m safety net for events
The Danish government has announced a DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net for festivals and major events, allowing organisers to plan for this summer without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.
The safety net will cover organisers of recurring events with at least 350 participants (such as music festivals, super league matches, conferences and markets), as well as events that were planned before 6 March 2020, but will not include new events created during the pandemic.
The scheme is a ‘continuation and simplification’ of the existing organiser scheme and will cover eligible events between 1 May and 30 September 2021 in the event that the Covid-19 situation results in the cancellation, postponement or significant changes to an event.
The full agreement, which must be approved by the European Commission, includes a ‘compensation ladder’ which provides organisers with an estimation of what they can expect to receive in compensation and deliver on to suppliers.
“Festival organisers can continue to plan with peace of mind”
In addition to the safety net, the agreement also includes an emergency pool of DKK 30m for bankruptcy-threatened large charitable music festivals, which each year distribute their profits to charitable causes.
“We all hope for a summer where the infection situation allows us to gather for festivals again,” says minister for culture, Joy Mogensen. “Until then, the festival organisers can continue to plan soundly with peace of mind. With the agreement, we ensure that festivals will be compensated if they have to cancel due to restrictions.”
Esben Marcher, head of Denmark’s live music association, Dansk Live, says: “It is positive that there is now a financial safety net for the festivals, so that the organisers can complete the preparation of this summer’s festivals. We will, of course, follow the implementation of the agreement closely. However, we still need clarification on whether there will be restrictions this summer, and which scenarios we must plan based on.”
Last week, Denmark’s ‘restart team’ submitted a catalogue of recommendations on the reopening of the cultural and sports sectors to the ministry of culture for government approval.
Denmark is the latest market to announce an event cancellation fund, taking note from Germany’s €2.5bn pot, Austria’s €300m ‘protective umbrella’, the Netherlands’ €300m fund, Belgium’s €60m festival cancellation pot and Norway’s €34m festival safety net.
European markets seek clarity on festival season
Major European festival markets are urgently seeking clarity on the viability of this year’s summer season in a race against the clock.
In Switzerland, promoters’ association SMPA has released a statement, co-signed by 26 of the country’s festivals, calling for clarity on the conditions under which Swiss festivals can be held regularly and at full capacity without social distancing.
The appeal also relays three key requirements for the restart of Swiss festivals: a transparent strategy and uniform conditions for holding events safely, a continual review of measures to ensure they are proportionate to the risks posed, and an event cancellation fund that covers 100% of losses.
“2021 is not 2020, the statement reads. “There are better treatment options, testing options are constantly evolving, and vaccinations are ongoing. In combination with the expected lower case numbers in the summer months, this creates a different starting position for the summer of 2021. The task now is to find a strategy for summer 2021.”
“2021 is not 2020. There are better treatment options, testing options are constantly evolving, and vaccinations are ongoing”
The statement has been co-signed by festivals including OpenAir St Gallen (cap. 30,000), which is part of the majority CTS Eventim-owned wepromote, SummerDays (12,000), and Seaside Festival (10,000) – all of which were cancelled last year after the Swiss government outlawed live events until the end of summer 2020.
In Denmark, festival organisers have been given a glimmer of hope after the government announced the spring arrival of a vaccine passport, but are still seeking the security needed in order to plan for the summer.
Acting minister of finance, Morten Bødskov, announced in a press conference on Wednesday (3 February) that digital Coronavirus passports will be ready for use in three to four months but will initially apply only to travel.
According to Bødskov, whether the digital passport can be used to go to a concert or a festival is a political discussion that will be decided by the infection situation.
The Danish live industry is cautiously optimistic about the news and have called for a roadmap for reopening to allow organisers to plan for the summer.
“[The vaccine passport] can be crucial in ensuring that we can quickly reopen venues and hold festivals this summer”
“The corona passport is an important tool that can be crucial in reopening the live industry,” says Esben Marcher, head of Dansk Live. “It is positive that a digital corona passport is now being established. It can be crucial in ensuring that we can quickly reopen venues and hold festivals when the summer comes.”
“Time is, of course, a significant challenge right now, and in organiser optics, three to four months is a very long time. The infection is currently fairly under control and the vaccine plan is being rolled out. Therefore, it should now be time to reconsider the plan for reopening. It will allow the country’s many organisers to plan for the future. ”
Danish festivals organisers say the ongoing uncertainty about whether the festival summer is to go ahead is keeping them in a stalemate situation.
“There are quite a few deals we do not close so as not to commit too much financially. Otherwise, we can have problems if the health authorities believe that we can not hold the festival,” Nicklas Lundorf, Langelandsfestival told Berlingske.
Lundorf revealed that the organisers are still planning to hold the festival until told otherwise.
“When are we going to throw ourselves in at the last minute and close the agreements that are crucial?”
“It’s something we go and discuss internally. When do we have a cut-off date? When are we going to throw ourselves in at the last minute and close the agreements that are crucial in order to get the festival off the ground?” he says.
Vaccine passports have been gaining traction across Europe, with Poland becoming the latest concert market to confirm it will issue its citizens with a vaccine passport when they have been immunised against Covid-19.
Elsewhere in Europe, Portugal is examining whether ‘safe bubbles’ of vaccinated festivalgoers could be the key to keeping fans and artists safe this summer, French festival operators ‘have 11 days to save festivals’, and the UK festival sector is waiting with bated breath for the prime minister to reveal a roadmap on the 22 February.
The lessons that can be learned from 2020’s lost festival summer will be discussed at ILMC during Festival Forum: Reboot & Reset, while leading festivals operators will be discussing the evolving passions, priorities and unique features of their events in Festival Futures: Core Priorities.