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Guidelines published for safe reopening in Europe

The European Commission has published new guidelines to enable the safe restart of cultural and creative activities across the EU.

The guidelines, presented yesterday (29 June) by the EC’s vice-president for ‘promoting our European way of life’, Margaritis Schinas, and the commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, Mariya Gabriel, aim to “provide a coordinated approach in line with the specific national, regional and local conditions” in individual member states as the epidemiological situation increases across the European Union, says the EC.

“Culture helped people cope with the impacts of lockdowns and social distancing. It is now our turn to accompany the sectors in their path to reopening,” says Schinas (pictured). “We need coordinated and tailor-made efforts across the EU to allow the culture world to safely and gradually resume its activities and be more prepared for future crises.

“The cultural and creative sectors are strong European assets and are important for Europe’s sustainable recovery, increased resilience of European society and, more generally, our European way of life.”

“We need coordinated and tailor-made efforts across the EU to allow the culture world to safely and gradually resume its activities”

The EU guidelines, developed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in partnership with the EU Health Security Committee, recommend the following:

EU member states, says the commission, are now invited to “take full advantage” of the bloc’s Recovery and Resilience Facility to invest in their national cultural sectors as the pandemic nears its end. Through Creative Europe (€2.5bn) and Horizon Europe (€2bn) nearly €4.5 billion is being made available for “cultural, creative and inclusive projects” from 2021 to 2027.

“The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate coordination of member states’ measures at EU level”

“The cultural and creative industries and sectors have paid a heavy toll since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, the crisis highlighted their importance for our society and economy,” comments Gabriel. “With the increased vaccine uptake, gradual lifting of restrictions, including in the field of culture, is taking place. The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate coordination of member states’ measures at EU level.

“Simultaneously, a safe reopening of cultural settings should go hand in hand with a range of actions to ensure the sustainable recovery and resilience of the entire sector.”

Welcoming the guidelines, Pearle* (Performing Arts Employers Associations League Europe) says attention to also be paid to the various successful test events in EU countries, which have proven that reopening at full capacity is possible with measures such as mass testing.

The Brussels-based federation also approves of the commissioners’ “presentation of funding lines”, underlining “that appropriate support packages are needed to revive the sector and recover from more than a year and a half of lost income,” says a Pearle* spokesperson. “The signal of the [European Commission] to put in place dedicated European funds need to be complemented with member state support, also at regional and local level,” they emphasise.

 


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

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Australia’s LEIF releases Covid-safe guidelines

The Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which represents Australia’s largest live entertainment and sport businesses, has released a new set of ‘Covid-safe’ guidelines for the safe restart of live events.

The new recommendations by LEIF – formed in June this year by Australia’s biggest concert and sports promoters, venue managers and industry associations – have been drawn up by industry experts from more over 50 organisations, in consultation with government and health agencies.

They include measures on cleaning and sanitisation, crowd management, physical distancing plans, health monitoring and contact tracing.

LEIF chair James Sutherland comments: “LEIF is committed to ensuring the passionate people of the industry have the safest, staged and most considered route back to full employment, which in turn, will deliver significant positive economic outcomes for the community through events, which are integral features of healthy and connected communities.

“These guidelines have been developed by LEIF to provide guidance, support and a point of reference”

“These guidelines have been developed by LEIF to provide guidance, support and a point of reference to live entertainment venues, event promoters and service providers to reactivate live events in a Covid-safe way.”

The guidelines, which can be found on the LEIF website, have been released in advance of the Event Summit, which takes place in Sydney on 14 October. At the conference, Sutherland and LEIF members Geoff Jones (CEO of TEG) and Roger Field (president of Live Nation Asia-Paicifc) will present a study assessing the economic contribution of the live entertainment industry in Australia, developed in cooperation with Ernst & Young.

The launch of the LEIF guidelines follows the release in August of a similar set of ‘Covid-safe’ measures developed by trade body Live Performance Australia.

At press time, some live events (particularly sports) had restarted in Australia, albeit with social distancing and with different restrictions by state.

 


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

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Live music returns to some of the UK’s biggest venues

Some of the UK’s largest and most prestigious venues, such as the O2 Arena (cap. 20,000) and the Royal Albert Hall (5,272), are set to reopen their doors this winter for the first time since March.

The O2 Arena has announced it will host its first live music event for more than eight months on 5 December with British band Squeeze.

The socially distanced event will see the venue’s capacity reduced to 4,700, with tickets being sold in groups of twos, threes and fours only and a seating configuration which is in line with the UK government’s one metre plus guidelines.

Seats will remain empty between each group and one-way routes have been installed throughout the arena and concourse. The performance will end before 10 pm in compliance with the new curfew.

“We have been working incredibly hard to bring back events at The O2 and put measures in place to ensure our fans will have a safe and Covid-19 secure experience,” says Steve Sayer, GM and VP at the O2.

“At the moment, we’re only able to host under a quarter of our capacity in the arena, so this is not a long term solution for us or other venues and we continue to press the government for targeted support and guidance to get the live events industry and its supply chain back on its feet.

“The O2 was designed to give artists and fans the best live music in the world and we look forward to doing that again with Squeeze. As the O2 returns to live, it’s really fitting that a band from the local area are the ones to reopen our doors to the public once again. The whole team are excited to see them on our stage for the first time.”

The Royal Albert Hall has also shared plans to reopen this December, announcing a programme of 18 Christmas concerts including Handel’s Messiah, the Royal Choral Society, Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas and My Christmas Orchestral Adventure.

“This model is not sustainable with such reduced capacities, we are opening because I believe this is what the country needs”

The events will mark RAH’s first concerts with an audience in nine months, on the eve of its 150th anniversary.

Craig Hassall, CEO of the Royal Albert Hall, says: “Six months on from enforced closure, and six months away from our 150th anniversary on 29 March 2021, we are excited beyond words to open our doors to the public for what will be a joyful, stirring and historic occasion.

“It remains the case that socially-distanced performances are financially unviable in the long term. Although this model is not sustainable with such reduced capacities, we are opening because I firmly believe this is what the country needs.

“It is an investment into our future – to protect the jobs of our highly skilled staff, to stimulate the local economy and the wider arts ecosystem, and to fulfil significant audience demand.

“Christmas has always been a time of great celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall, where people have come together since 1871 – from Vera Lynn at the end of the Blitz, to HM The Queen’s first public Christmas address. It is essential for us to carry on this spirit in what has been a year of disruption.”

The Hall sold 121,229 tickets across last year’s Christmas season. This year there will be 36,000 tickets available in total.

Elsewhere, Alexandra Palace (10, 400) recently announced a series of socially-distanced, indoor live events taking place this October and November. The arena’s autumn programme features comedy, theatre, a drive-in film club and a sold-out show with DJ Sasha.

Alongside the standard coronavirus regulations, the venue will be operating a table-only format with a maximum of six people at each table.

All three venues have adopted Covid guidelines including socially-distanced seating, e-tickets, deep-cleaning, staggered entry times to reduce queues, temperature checks, a face covering policy, and sanitising stations throughout the venue.

 


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UK production pros launch Covid-19 working group

Professionals from across the UK concert touring sector have joined forces to launch the PSA Tour Production Group (PSA TPG), a new association that aims to provide a unified industry response to the impact of Covid-19 on live music events.

The group is a new arm of the Production Services Association (PSA), the trade body for the live event production industry, and includes tour managers, production managers, safety professionals, venue and festival managers, travel and logistics specialists, promoters and suppliers. Past and present clients of the PSA TPG team include artists such as Adele, Madonna, Pink, U2, Ed Sheeran and Spice Girls and events including Isle of Wight Festival, Lollapalooza and British Summer Time Hyde Park (pictured).

The formation of the group centres on getting touring professionals back to work safely, and supporting the sector’s survival, “in a pre-vaccine Covid-19 era”, according to the PSA, when tour-specific safety guidelines working around local threat levels will become the norm.

To that end, PSA TPG today (30 July) released a Working Procedures Guidance document which outlines how touring productions – defined as one-off shows, festivals and live events of any size that require moving personnel and equipment to a new destination – can better align with suppliers, venues and promoters to assist risk management relating to transmission of the coronavirus.

“Based around a hierarchy of control (including elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administration and PPE) and a responsive threat scale, the guidance details different levels of design, schedule and control measures appropriate to conditions,” explains the group. “These measures include social distancing, health declarations and monitoring, hygiene and cleaning, and mitigation.”

there’s no better group of people to find the solution than those that deliver shows for a living

The document is designed to add to existing guidance “by outlining practical measures that will inform tour-specific risk assessments and method statements”, the association adds. Production industry professionals are encouraged to provide feedback on the guidance via the PSA website.

Take That production manager Chris Vaughan says: “We have brought together the leading experts in live music concert touring to agree on how tours should be run whilst the threat of Covid-19 remains with us.

“Production and tour managers are responsible for the operational, logistical, financial, creative and technical delivery of concerts around the world and, as such, we are proposing a series of guidelines that can be practically and realistically implemented.”

Sam Smith’s production manager, Wob Roberts, adds: “Covid-19 is an unwelcome addition to the rider, yet there’s no better group of people to find the solution than those that deliver shows for a living. More than a document, this is intended to be a responsive set of protocols that efficiently move with a changing environment.”

“From an industry whose timeless motto is ‘the show must go on’, the pandemic has been a devastating blow, both economically and for the mental wellbeing of the huge number of people who work behind the scenes,” comments Mark Ward, production director of BST Hyde Park. “These new documents offer many of the answers those people are searching for.”

 


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

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.