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Seated concerts don’t stand up, say French campaigners

French live music associations have initiated a push for their members to be allowed to reopen at full capacity, saying the current ban on standing concerts prevents the return of live music in any meaningful way.

In a new campaign, Les concerts assis, ça ne tient pas debout (‘Seated concerts don’t stand up’, or less literally ‘Seated concerts don’t hold water’/‘Seated concerts don’t make sense’), the SMA (Union of Contemporary Music) and Fedelima (Federation of Contemporary Music Venues) demand that standing shows be allowed from 1 July, saying live music should have parity with other sectors as society begins to reopen this summer.

Concerts have been permitted in France since 19 May, albeit at 35% capacity. As of today (9 June), that has been increased to 65% of capacity, though all shows must be seated.

While culture minister Roselyne Bachelot has suggested standing shows could be allowed from July, they would still be subject to social distancing regulations, with no more than one person every for every 4m² of space in the venue, making most events unfeasible financially.

“Standing is an integral part of the aesthetic and social experience of live music”

Therefore, “without any medical justification, seated shows could from 1 July even have more spectators than the standing configurations,” note the associations.

In a statement, Fedelima and SMA, which between them represent hundreds of live businesses, say all the aid provided to the sector to enable it to survive the pandemic will have been nothing if venues are not allowed to reopen at full capacity from 1 July.

“[A]t a time of the resumption of all activities in society, it is inexplicable that only seated configurations can resume,” they say. Standing concerts, they add, “are an integral part of the aesthetic and social experience of contemporary music” and a “symbol of freedom and equality”.

Therefore, “the whole of the contemporary music sector – music venues, festivals, producers, labels, radio stations, schools and associations – are launching this call today: Les concerts assis, ça ne tient pas debout.”


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