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German live biz calls for five-year recovery plan

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) has presented a series of demands to government, amid concerns no major tours will be able to take place in the first half of next year.

The EMF alliance, which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, is calling for a tailored support scheme for the sector to run until the end of 2022, as well as a five-year recovery plan for 2023 to 2028, and a special representative for the industry in politics.

It is 12 months since the German federal government set a precedent for the European live music industry with the announcement of a £2.5 billion insurance pot. Speaking at a digital press conference, BDKV president Jens Michow acknowledged the “considerable” funding provided up to this point, but said the current assistance does not go far enough.

“If, however, an economic sector is so badly affected by an economic crisis, a comprehensive special programme tailored to specific needs is required in order to save its economic survival,” he said. “Such a programme must then run until the end of 2022.”

A time like the one we experienced live in 2018 and 2019 has moved very, very far away

Estimating that sales were down by 80 to 100%, LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich said the existing live music business model was increasingly being called into question. He also shared his fears that no major tours will be able to take place in the first half of 2022.

“A time like the one we experienced live in 2018 and 2019 has moved very, very far away,” he said. “It will take a few years of development work.”

Michow put the loss of income for the industry during the coronavirus crisis at €10 billion, and noted that while aid programmes had been useful, some were not geared towards the needs of the business and, more pertinently, were not designed to last for such a long time.

Warning the live business was fighting for its very existence and had “run out of time”, Michow said the situation had become one of “desperation and hopelessness”.

“There is still no opening strategy,” he lamented. “In the current situation, we cannot plan tours. The countries have to agree on uniform regulations.

“Since the coronavirus will not simply vanish into thin air in the coming year, we finally need comprehensible, standardised criteria for a nationwide opening perspective. ”

The one-hour press conference on 16 December began with a lecture by Klaus Wohlrabe, the deputy head of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, who stated the event industry was the sector hardest hit by Covid-19 infection protection measures.

Wohlrabe asserted that the industry’s business climate index fell from minus 2.2 points in October, to minus 26 points in November.

“Until October there was still hope for improvement,” he said. “This disappeared in November.”

 


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German alliance demands December 1 ‘Freedom Day’

German event companies have called for all remaining Covid restrictions to be lifted by 1 December at the latest.

The Event Management Forum (EMF) alliance, which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, said that while large-scale events can now take place again in numerous federal states, the various regulations in others meant tours “can only still be planned with considerable obstacles”.

The federal minister of health, Jens Spahn, has said he does not expect the pandemic to end in Germany until spring 2022, therefore it was currently considered “too early to return to normal”. However, citing the country’s high vaccination rate and “moderate” hospital occupancy, the EMF has claimed it is now time for the country to learn to live with the virus.

“Many European countries have long since come to terms with this and lifted all restrictions,” it said. “In Germany, the occupancy of the hospital wards is moderate, the incidence figures are largely constant, the vaccination rate is increasing daily. The persistence of restrictions therefore appears increasingly inappropriate.

The industry is demanding that all restrictions on holding public events be lifted by 1 December

The industry is demanding that all restrictions on holding public events be lifted by 1 December.

“The event industry has always supported meaningful measures by the federal and state governments, insofar as these were proportionate. Maintaining the restrictions on event operations is not.”

Warning that further inaction would lead event specialists to continue to defect to other industries, the EMF said the sector was the “last branch of the economy that is still in a corona coma”.

“The industry is… demanding that all restrictions on holding public events be lifted by 1 December, thus making it possible for cultural and other events to take place again as early as the Christmas season,” it concluded.

Back in January, the EMF presented a proposal titled ‘Manifest Restart’, which detailed a uniform approach to the gradual and safe reopening of events in Germany.

“This would have ensured the highest possible level of security for all event visitors as early as the spring,” it said.

 


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German associations react to gov’s vaccine promise

The German event industry is calling for an autumn restart following chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise of a Covid-19 vaccine for all residents by 21 September 2021.

The Event Management Forum, which unites Germany’s five events industry associations, has written an open letter to the federal chancellor to ask for a full return to live events on the same date.

“If events after 21 September are made dependent on attendees showing a vaccination certificate, it is not clear to the Forum what should stop a 100% opening of German venues from 21 September,” the letter reads.

“It is not clear to the Forum what should stop a 100% opening of German venues from 21 September”

“Most organisers have relocated their events for the third time since March 2020, which are already on sale for the autumn of this year. If these events could again only be carried out with social distancing rules and thus only uneconomically, the companies will not survive even with the various generous offers of help.”

The Forum reminds the chancellor that she was presented with its Manifest Restart proposal at the beginning of February, ‘under which a gradual and safe reopening of events should be possible before 21 September’.

September is also when Germany’s delayed €2.5 billion event cancellation scheme is due to start, though IQ understands that the industry is pessimistic about the commencement in the midst of September elections.

 


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Health experts draw up Germany reopening plan

Twenty scientists, health experts and doctors in Germany have created a set of guidelines to enable the gradual return of audiences to cultural and sporting events.

In a paper released on Monday, titled Schrittweise Rückkehr von Zuschauern und Gästen: Ein integrierter Ansatz für Kultur und Sport (Gradual return of spectators and guests: An integrated return to culture and sport), specialists in infectious diseases, virology, ventilation, health economics, sports medicine, culture and law present various models for both and indoor and outdoor events to allow them to reopen safely. Each is based on a basic concept but can be expanded to gradually increase the number of guests per event.

This basic concept, described as stage one in a ‘three-stage plan’ (Drei-Stufen-Plan), is based on an indoor capacity of 25–30% (up to 40% if outdoors), with mandatory face masks and and no food or beverage sales indoors (outside, there should be no F&B sales above 1,000 visitors). There should also be social distancing, achieved by leaving many seats empty.

These rules are the same for attendees, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Beyond the basic model, there are a number of ‘special individual concepts’ depending on the venue or event, with varying hygiene, ventilation and occupancy requirements.

At 100% capacity – the so-called ‘maximum model’ – the guidelines require, among other provisions, digital contact tracing for all attendees, along with mandatory coronavirus tests before entry.

“We need a perspective that gives us hope and incentive”

The concept is supported by a score of major German venues, including Mercedes-Benz Arena/Verti Music Hall in Berlin, Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Olympiapark Munich and Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig, as well as a number of other music and sports organisations, including the the governing bodies of German football, basketball, handball and volleyball.

“This initiative cannot be rated highly enough,” said Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s senator for culture, speaking after the launch of the paper. “We need a perspective that gives us hope and incentive so that we can get away from the appeals to persevere without any prospect of improvement.”

“As soon as it is possible to reopen” venues, “culture, sport and events must be included” in that, he added. (Some experts warn Germany is currently in the midst of a “third wave” of the coronavirus as new mutations spread.)

The head of the German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat), Olaf Zimmermann, says the authors of the plan have provided “a comprehensive concept which could enable spectators and guests to participate in cultural and sporting events under strict hygiene and infection-protection measures”.

“With their concept, the scientists, experts and cultural and sports institutions are, for the first time, presenting a cross-industry, data-based approach […] to the discussion about appropriate ways out of lockdown,” Zimmerman comments. “We want to reopen, and we want to protect the people who visit or work in our facilities from the virus. Both can work – as the concept presented today shows.”

“The scientists, experts and cultural and sports institutions are, for the first time, presenting a cross-industry, data-based approach”

The Event Management Forum, the umbrella organisation founded last year by live music group BDKV and four other events associations, also welcomes the plan – which is similar to the Manifest Restart (Restart Manifesto) it presented earlier this month – but points out that recent studies in Leipzig and Dortmund show that venues can go up to 100% capacity safely, far beyond the 25–30% on which the basic concept is based.

“From the point of view of the Event Management Forum, the concept is not yet suitable for actually enabling a ‘restart’ of event operations,” the forum says in a statement. “[I]t contains a basic model that should enable venues of all sizes to operate with 25 to 30% capacity, while outdoors with up to 40% capacity, while observing basic requirements such as social distancing, hygiene rules and personalised ticketing.”

Whereas, “in the Dortmund aerosol study,” it adds, “a capacity of 100% was considered harmless, provided that the audience in the hall wear masks.”

As for the ‘maximum model’ proposed in the plan, the Event Management Forum points out that venues could safely go to 100% capacity if attendees are tested for the virus before entry, making the other restrictions redundant. “The implementation of suitable tests can enable the utilisation of 100% [of a venue] without further measures if this ensures that only negative, non-infectious visitors are admitted to the respective venue,” the organisation adds.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Jens Michow: German gov plans to delay insurance

The German federal government is planning to postpone its insurance scheme for event organisers, according to Jens Michow, the managing president of Germany’s live association, the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV).

The €2.5 billion indemnity scheme, announced in December 2020, was due to launch in the second half of this year and would allow organisers to plan for Q3 and Q4 without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.

But according to Michow, who has been acting as a consultant to the German government on the implementation of the scheme, the federal ministry of finance wants to postpone the commencement date as it’s not yet clear when events can be held fully again.

However, he reassured ‘critics’ that the fund would be launch eventually, writing in a Facebook post: “To all critics of German support politics: take me by my word, the default fund will exist! And possibly even longer than originally planned.”

“Take me by my word, the default fund will exist! And possibly even longer than originally planned”

Michow recently told IQ about the considerations, logistics and hurdles that had to be overcome in order to implement the insurance fund in one of Europe’s largest live music markets. Read the Q&A here.

The BDKV chief has also been busy working with the Event Management Forum on a proposal detailing a uniform approach to the gradual and safe reopening of events in Germany.

The alliance, which also includes live music association Live Komm, published the ‘Manifest Restart’ proposal last week, which includes an ‘approval matrix’ to help organisers and authorities determine in which risk levels, under which general and special measures of infection protection and hygiene, and with which capacities events are permitted.

Last week, the German government announced that it would continue a partial lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic until at least 7 March.

Interested in hearing more about government-backed insurance funds? Register for ILMC session Insurance: The Big Update.

 


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German alliance unveils roadmap for return to live

German alliance Event Management Forum (EMF) has presented a proposal titled ‘Manifest Restart’ which details a uniform approach to the gradual and safe reopening of events in Germany.

The Alliance – which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm – has devised an ‘approval matrix’ to help organisers and authorities determine in which risk levels, under which general and special measures of infection protection and hygiene, and with which capacities events are permitted.

The comprehensive matrix takes into account a range of nuances in venues such as different construction methods, special features of event formats or existing ventilation systems.

The alliance presented Manifest Restart during a press conference yesterday (9 February) in which Jens Michow, president of the BDKV, emphasised that the goal of the matrix is to make events “the safest place in the pandemic”.

“The industry has shown in the past year that events can be implemented safely. With the following suggestions we show the way to a step-by-step achievement of this goal and finally create a perspective for the industry again,” the proposal reads.

“With the following suggestions we show the way to a step-by-step achievement of [implementing events safely]”

EMF’s proposal also calls for the government to: compensate losses caused by capacity restrictions, fund the costs of SARS-CoV-2 tests and the personnel and logistics required to carry them out, and reimburse the costs of rescheduling and cancelling events.

The alliance has also said that it is necessary that domestic and foreign artists, ensembles, orchestras, bands and their accompanying staff have basic freedom to travel and quarantine, and that “cultural work” is an acceptable reason for this.

The EMF – which is completed by EVVC (European Association of Event Centres), the ISDV (community of interests of independent service providers in the event management ) and VPLT (The Association for Media and Event Technology) – hopes to take the Manifest Restart proposal and matrix to the federal government.

The government is currently consulting with BDKV’s Jens Michow on how to implement Germany’s €2.5 billion event cancellation fund.

Michow recently spoke to IQ about the considerations, logistics and hurdles to overcome in setting up an insurance fund for one of Europe’s largest live music markets.

Interested in hearing more about government-backed insurance funds? Register for ILMC session Insurance: The Big Update.

 


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German event assocs latest to form umbrella group

Germany’s five associations for the events industry, including live music bodies BDKV and LiveKomm, have formed the Event Management Forum, formally recognising months of cooperation during the coronavirus crisis.

BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry) and venue association LiveKomm (LiveMusikKommission) join independent suppliers’ organisation ISDV, pro-AV group VPLT and the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) as the five founding partners of the Event Management Forum, or Forum Veranstaltungswirtschaft in German.

“As industry associations, we have the job of taking the interests of our members into the political decision-making process and working to optimise the legal framework,” says BDKV head Jens Michow. “The joint formation as a forum for the event management industry will give this work more clout in the future, and give all members of our associations a better voice in government.”

Timo Feuerbach (pictured), managing director of EVVC, adds: “The past few months have shown that politicians see us as a central and legitimate point of contact. We want to represent this sustainably by founding the Event Management Forum and communicate it more strongly to the outside world.”

The formation of the Event Management Forum follows similar initiatives to unite the entire events business in other countries this year, including Finland and the UK.

“The past few months have shown that politicians see us as a central and legitimate point of contact”

In Finland, the recently formed Event Industry Association (Tapahtumateollisuus) runs the gamut of the sector, with its membership including concert businesses, convention centres, production companies, trade fair organisers, freelancers and more.

According to the association, there are around 3,200 companies involved in organising live events in Finland, with the total value of the industry estimated at €2.35 billion. The sector employs 20,000 full-time, and 175,000 temporary, workers.

In the UK, meanwhile, the One Industry One Voice campaign brings together the UK Live Music Group with the Business Visits and Events Partnership, which represents the conference, exhibition and outdoor events sector, and events and entertainment technology trade association Plasa (Professional Lighting and Sound Association).

It also has representatives from the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents the night-time economy, the Events Industry Forum (EIF), representing outdoor events, What About Weddings, representing the weddings sector, and the PSA, the trade association for live event production companies and freelancers.

 


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