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Venue leaders optimistic for 2020 reopening

Venue professionals expressed confidence that doors will reopen before the end of the year, but shared doubts as to whether social distancing is the answer, in the latest IQ Focus panel.

Available to watch back now on the IQ website, as well as on Facebook and Youtube, the session saw John Langford (AEG Europe), Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event) reflect on when they will return to business and the tactics that venues will use to ensure the show goes on.

All panellists were optimistic that some shows will return before the end of 2020, although next year will see the true restart of indoor live events, with many speaking of “packed 2021 calendars”.

For Toth, CEO of the 6,500-capacity Rockhal in Luxembourg, smaller capacity shows with strict social distancing measures will be the most likely to restart before the new year. Rockhal’s intimate club venue, which typically has a capacity of 1,100, can hold 90 people with two metre distancing measures in place, but “we can increase capacity as we go”, said Toth.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021,” said Toth.

Rockhal is one of a number of venues in Luxembourg acting as a temporary medical facility.

For GOT Event, which operates nine venues in Sweden, sports fixtures are the most likely to return in 2020, with all matches played behind closed doors. “For music and other shows, I think it’ll be next year,” said Nibell.

Even though Sweden has not entered a full lockdown unlike many of its European counterparts, a ban on shows over 50 people has left the Swedish live industry in much the same position as elsewhere.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021”

ASM Global has already seen some success with the return of sporting events, hosting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events behind closed doors at venues in the United States.

Lynch said ASM Global’s VenueShield, a post-coronavirus reopening programme, has played a big part in allowing the sports powerhouse to get back up and running. “Next I’d like to see how, or if, we can introduce fans with social distancing and in a safe and clean environment.”

Social distancing has been a “hot topic” of late for the events industry, said Langford, asking Wizard Promotions’ Hoppe if it is a viable solution for event organisers.

While it may work for some kinds of shows and events, “I don’t think social distancing will be a part of what we will be looking at,” said Hoppe.  Drive-in concerts offer an example of social distancing success, added Hoppe, but “are horrible for an artist in my opinion”.

Noble, artistic and commercial director at London’s (5,272-cap.) Royal Albert Hall and chair of the UK’s National Arenas Association (NAA), agreed that social distancing is not part of the plan for reopening as “it just doesn’t work financially”.

“We do know we can run our venues in world class ways to facilitate shows going on, be it by contact tracing, temperature checks, questionnaires, disinfectant mists etc.”

Noble noted the lack of clarity given to the live industry by the UK government, which is yet to give a date for when events of any size will be permitted again. “If they don’t give us clarity, then we need to give them clarity,” said Noble. “We are suggesting to them how we can operate.”

“I am really positive about the future of live events, but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, if it recurs”

The EAA has also taken up a lobbying position, working with the European Commission to develop a reopening plan for the live industry.

“We’ll be facing very different requirements and expectations from our customers,” said Toth. “Scenarios will be very different, from artist hospitality to audience experience, not even mentioning social distancing, so the ambition was to put major concerns out there and open up the discussion.”

Consumer demand has been another worry for the live industry, with surveys indicating a potential cautiousness on behalf of some about returning to public events. However, Toth pointed out that the majority of fans are holding on to tickets for postponed events, indicating that “people are looking forward to coming back”.

Noble said that the Royal Albert Hall is expecting confidence will take a while to return and is modelling accordingly.

“We certainly won’t be selling to full houses when we reopen,” said Noble. The venue is adjusting its programming to focus on shows that attract younger audiences first, the demographic most likely to make a quick return to events.

“I am really positive about the future of live events,” said Noble, “but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, and for if it recurs.”

The next IQ Focus session, The Innovation Session, is taking place on Thursday 28 May at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, chaired by Mike Malak (Paradigm), and featuring speakers Sheri Bryant (Sansar), Tommas Arnby (Locomotion Ent.), Amy Oldham (Dice), Ben Samuels (MelodyVR) and Prajit Gopal (Looped).

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.

 


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Venues in the spotlight for next IQ Focus panel

Following on from last week’s popular Festival Forum session, this week’s IQ Focus virtual panel will turn the attention to venues, discussing how the world’s many shuttered music venues can weather the Covid-19 storm, and emerge from life under lockdown.

Chaired by John Langford (AEG Europe), The Venue’s Venue: Building Back, will feature speakers Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event).

The touring world has changed dramatically since venue professionals came together for the Venue Summit at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March, as doors have been shuttered, countless concerts cancelled and many venues repurposed to help in the fight against the disease.

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far.

Looking to the future, the venue experts will also reflect on what the recovery process may look like and what will need to be done to keeps fans, staff and artists safe and get business back up and running in the crucial months ahead.

The session is taking place on Thursday 21 May at 3.30 (BST)/4.30 (CET). Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.


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Ticketmaster extends Got Event deal in Sweden

Ticketmaster has renewed its partnership with the largest venue operator in Gothenburg, Got Event, for a further three years.

The agreement will see Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster, the world’s biggest ticket agency, provide ticketing for all Got Event venues, including Scandinavium (12,000-cap.), Ullevi (43,200-cap.), Lisebergshallen (3,500-cap.) and Bravida Arena (6,500-cap.), and its more than 400 annual events.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to continue our work with Ticketmaster”

“Got Event provides the magic of live entertainment to hundreds of thousands of fans every year,” says Kristian Seljeset, CEO of Ticketmaster Sweden. “We’re very proud to have not only renewed our partnership with Got Event but strengthened it with the addition of its sports club ticket sales.”

Lotta Nibell, CEO of Got Event, comments: “It’s great to have the opportunity to continue our work with Ticketmaster. As a business that runs over 400 events annually, it is of utmost importance to have a partner capable of managing all different kinds of ticket sales to fans across Sweden and beyond.”

 


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