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Belgium test events deemed a success

Results from Belgium’s first-ever cultural test events, which took place at the Royal Flemish Theatre (KVS) and concluded in early May, have been deemed a success.

The two-week test series took place in KVS’s 500-capacity room with 50–250 attendees and examined how the air quality in the room was impacted by the presence of an audience.

The results, which have been published this week, show that the air quality in a half-filled theatre remains unchanged and therefore all spectators can safely attend a performance.

According to the calculations of KVS and its partners, the air quality in a fully occupied hall would not be affected either and therefore there is ‘no objective reason for capacity restrictions at seated events in well-ventilated rooms’.

Now, Belgium’s live sector is asking for a re-evaluation of the proposed reopening on 9 June so that seated events are permitted to take place at full capacity.

“This outcome is a boost for the entire cultural sector”

Artistic director, Michael De Cock, says: “KVS can look back on the test week with satisfaction. Not only was it particularly moving to be able to be in a theatre again – the reactions from the audience were overwhelming – the results that KVS can present today are also encouraging and strengthen our belief that culture can be organised safely. More culture creates more humanity. Something that our society needs today more than ever. ”

Business director, Merlijn Erbuer, says: “This outcome is a boost for the entire cultural sector: what applies at KVS applies in every theatre with an equivalent ventilation system. The KVS is therefore asking for a reevaluation of the proposed reopening, so that from 9 June full houses are admitted for performing arts with a passive, seated audience.

“Test events, however, we have to get rid of as soon as possible, because they are prohibitively expensive and annoying for our audience. You also don’t get tested before getting on the tram or walking into a shopping street.”

Similar live music experiments have also taken place in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the UK. See an extensive list here.


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Paris test concert finally rescheduled

After a series of stops and starts, French live music association Prodiss and Paris hospital AP-HP have finally been given the green light for the Paris test concert.

The clinical trial was initially announced in February and should have taken place in April but the scheme got “stuck on the government side”, with the ministry of culture proving “unreachable” amid the new lockdown measures.

The experiment, dubbed ‘Ambition Live Again’, will now take place on 29 May at the Accor Arena (20,300-cap.) in Paris with DJ Etienne de Crécy and the band Indochine.

The trial will compare the risk of contamination between two randomised groups: an experimental group of 5,000 people will attend the concert and a control group of 2,500 people will not attend the concert.

The trial will compare the risk of contamination between two randomised groups

The concertgoers will be required to take an antigen test a maximum of 72 hours before the concert and a PCR test seven days after the concert, while the control group will take a self-test on the day of the concert.

Once inside, attendees will not socially distance, though everyone will be required to wear a mask.

The scientific team specified that the participants could not be people at risk and must be in an age group between 18-45 years old and live in Ile-de-France. A full list of criteria can be found on the Ambition Live Again website.

The sister pilot in Marseille was also hit by delays and has not yet been rescheduled. As reported in IQ, a thousand people are expected to attend the two shows at the Dôme (cap. 8,500) in Marseille, which will see performances from French hip-hop group Iam.

See IQ‘s extensive timeline of live music pilot projects here and read about them in-depth here.


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