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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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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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Jens Michow on Germany’s event cancellation fund

In December 2020, the German federal government set a precedent for the European live music industry with the announcement of the biggest event cancellation fund yet.

The €2.5 billion government-backed insurance pot, which will allow event organisers to plan for Q3 and Q4 2021 without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak, was the second of its kind after Austria unveiled a €300m ‘protective umbrella’ in October, in what was believed to be a world first.

Similar guarantee funds have been set up in Switzerland and the Netherlands, while other nations including the UK and Denmark are lobbying for the same, especially with the European festival season round the corner.

While Germany is one step closer to a financially viable return to live, there is still a myriad of logistically challenging decisions to be made in a relatively short amount of time, Jens Michow tells IQ.

The managing president of Germany’s live association, the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV), has been acting as a consultant to the German government on the implementation of the insurance fund. Here, he tells IQ about the considerations, logistics and hurdles to overcome in setting up an insurance fund for one of Europe’s largest live music markets.


The German government initially said it would like to reimburse all costs associated with cancellations in the second half of 2021. Is that still the plan?
JM: Although details are not secure yet, the government plans to reimburse the major share of all costs for future cultural events cancelled due to the pandemic. Additionally, they plan to cover the disadvantage organisers have if the government impose a capacity limit on venues.

So, for example, if you sold out a show with 1,000 people but later on you’re only allowed to get 250 people in the venue, the government will make up the difference. However, this “economic bonus”, as it will be called, will be limited to smaller events only. And, as I was informed today, it will only occur to events which are planned after this program has been announced.

Will there be a minimum capacity requirement for events to be covered by insurance?
As it looks now: no. Though, the ‘economic bonus’ shall be reserved for smaller events up to 1,000 people. The cancellation coverage is planned for all events, however with a certain limit, which has to be decided upon now.

“If all the events that have already shifted twice have to be cancelled again, then we might need the full €2.5bn”

How did the government estimate €2.5bn for the fund?
They made an admirable lot of investigation. As the fund is reserved only for cultural events which take place till the end of the year, it should be sufficient in my point of view. We are hoping that after such a long time, events finally will take place as they are planned. Maybe when the weather gets hotter in July, even some festivals may take place. We just hope that the British variant of Covid doesn’t arrive in Germany and that we don’t have the same situation as in Britain over here. If all the events that have already shifted twice – from last spring to this spring and then to this autumn – have to be cancelled again, then we might need the full €2.5bn but who knows.

Who will be responsible for granting and distributing any pay-outs?
Obviously, the necessary administration still will have to be established. We require that the system is planned as a common security coverage. We propose that a promoter announces his show in advance in order to be secured. Should the security event happen, the promoter must prove his costs. We also want to make sure that he is obliged to pay the fees to all of the service companies he charged so that everybody who suffers a damage due to the cancellation finally gets reimbursed.

“We’re very proud of our federal system but for the event industry it’s actually a big problem”

In Switzerland, each canton is responsible for distributing funds to its own region. Would the German gov consider doing the same thing with its federal states?
I think the same will happen here; there will be no central office and the federal states will be tasked with taking care of the administration and distributing. If that’s the case, I hope the states are informed as soon as possible so they can prepare themselves.

Would varying levels of restrictions in the federal states complicate this?
That’s a general issue since the beginning of the pandemic: every state does its own thing and has different regulations. One state might say, ‘we have loose regulations and a low Covid incidence rate so shows can happen’. And a couple of kilometres away, another state is saying ‘our Covid rate is high, we have to shut everything down’. We’re very proud of our federal system but for the event industry it’s actually a big problem. As long as we don’t have the same regulations all over the country, it will be impossible to organise tours.

“As long as we don’t have the same regulations all over the country, it will be impossible to organise tours”

If you plan a tour, where would you apply for the coverage – in every single town?
No. It must be possible to apply for the coverage in the town where you are based. If you have to apply in 14 different states, that would be a nightmare. If you don’t have the chance to apply in the first state the tour is taking place and then you have to apply in all the other states…that would be impossible.

What do you think the market will look like in Q3 and Q4?
The fact is that, besides the festivals, more or less 100% of that which could take place till the end of the year is already planned. If you try to get a venue in this country for September/October, you won’t get it because they’re already booked up by promoters who shifted their date from spring to autumn in order to give the people who have already bought a ticket the show they paid for. The time to offer ticket buyers the show they’re owed is getting shorter and shorter because we are not allowed to do it at the moment… Another big question is: when will international artists be allowed to enter Germany without a quarantine period of 14 days?

“Germany should be proud to have politicians who care about the event industry”

Is it likely there’ll be an extension to the scheme?
We have to have something that lasts longer because organisers are planning now for 2022 and 2023 and nobody knows whether the pandemic will be gone by then. And if not, nobody will take the risk that their show will be cancelled.

When do you expect the government to make all of these decisions?
Germany should be proud to have politicians who care about the event industry. For months, I’ve participated day after day in Zoom discussions and other talks with politicians. They are really trying to help us as best as they can and we already achieved a lot.

Regarding the security scheme… they know we needed it yesterday. At the moment, all help was needed yesterday. But the politicians are totally aware of the pressure, which we are under due to the fact, that under the actual circumstances we are unable to prepare anything. They know that we must decide whether we’ll have to shift dates again. It’s the same thing for the festival organisers because you can’t decide in May that you’re going to do a festival in June.

Hopefully we’ll have something concrete within the next few weeks. The ministries are really focused on this. I mean, let’s face it, politicians are not promoters. They’re trying to understand our business. They’re trying to get adapted to all these bits and pieces, before they say ‘okay, let’s go’ – that’s difficult enough.

 


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European assocs predict 6–12 month recovery period

Today the UK inches closer towards a return to normality after delivering the very first Covid jab as part of the mass vaccination programme being rolled out across the nation.

A 90-year-old woman received the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be given in the coming weeks, with up to four million more are expected by the end of the month, according to the BBC.

The rollout is a light at the end of the tunnel for the domestic live industry, especially after the UK culture minister predicted that the events industry is likely to return to normality by next Easter.

However, associations in Germany, Spain and Switzerland say the rollout for vaccines in Europe is a little further behind and predict a recovery period of between 6–12 months for live.

EU member countries have jointly agreed on the purchase, approval and distribution of the vaccines and are currently awaiting approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is expected between mid-December and the end of the year.

“[BDKV] expects the industry back on track in 2022, nationally, and picking up to pre-pandemic operations in 2023”

Jens Michow, managing president of the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) in Germany, says he is hoping for the domestic live industry to return for good during the course of 2021 but he expects Covid-safe regulations to stay in place until the pandemic is over.

“Vaccine status development until winter 2021/22 is crucial for the industry to be able to operate through next winter without lockdowns. If that would be possible, we expect the industry back on track in 2022, nationally, and picking up to pre-pandemic operations in 2023, but only if the international partners can operate without limitations as well,” he says.

In Germany, the federal states are responsible for rolling out the vaccines to the population and are currently setting up vaccine centres, which will be ready during the course of December, ready to follow the national vaccination strategy for distribution.

Similarly, the distribution of the vaccine in Switzerland will be organised by each individual canton, though Stefan Breitenmoser from Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) says not all cantons will be ready when the vaccine is launched early next year and predicts a return to live late next year at the earliest.

“Due to planning uncertainty and limited international travel, many [Swiss] artists are postponing their tours until 2022”

“Pre-sales for events, no matter when they take place, have completely collapsed again since mid-October 2020,” says Breitenmoser. “Due to planning uncertainty and limited international travel, many artists are currently postponing their tours until 2022. We do not expect normal operations before the end of 2021, although there will be some easing of the measures before then, as we need at least six months’ lead time after the end of the measures.”

According to an interview with the Swiss head of infection control at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), Virginie Masserey, Switzerland’s vaccination rollout should last six months and be completed by the summer of 2021.

Elsewhere, though the Association of Musical Promoters of Spain says it won’t speculate on a specific date for the return of live, “there is some optimism regarding summer 2021, though it will depend on progress in vaccination and the health situation”. A spokesperson says: “For now, what we do know is that many summer festivals have already begun to announce a 2021 edition that can be experienced normally.”

“There is some optimism [in Spain] regarding summer 2021, though it will depend on progress of the vaccination”

According to the association, approval for the first of the vaccines (Pfizer) will come on 29 December and the second (Moderna) on January 12 for Spain. Spanish president Pedro Sánchez says the government is “working at full capacity so that the vaccines are available as soon as possible.”

According to the minister of health, Salvador Illa, Spain’s vaccination campaign could begin in January and by May and June between 15–20 million people would already be vaccinated.

The minister has presented a vaccination plan that will be developed in three phases, distributed throughout 2021 and giving priority to risk groups.

The associations’ timelines roughly align with that of industry heads including CTS Eventim’s Klaus Peter Schulenburg and AEG Presents France’s Arnaud Meersseman, who shared predictions with IQ last month after news of the two vaccines. Read the feature here.

 


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German live market reaches record highs, but visitors fall

The German live events market generated revenue of nearly €5 billion in the year ending 30 June 2017, an increase of 31% since 2013, according to new research by commissioned promoters’ association BDV.

In the period 1 July 2016–30 June 2017, sales from concerts and other live events totalled €4.99bn, compared to €3.82bn at the time of the last study by BDV (Bundesverband der Veranstaltungswirtschaft, or Federal Association of the Event Industry), in 2013. In the four years since, the live industry has jumped ahead of the book trade to become the leading economic driver of Germany’s growing entertainment market.

However, BDV president Jens Michow warns that growth has come despite falling visitor numbers, largely as a result of increased ticket prices.

“Despite all the happiness about this development, we should note two less encouraging facts,” explains Michow (pictured). “The study shows that despite the significant increase in sales, the total number of tickets sold declined from 120.6 million in 2013 to 113.5 million in the period investigated. It also demonstrates that the sales growth is largely due to increased ticket prices and a higher visit frequency, and not increasing visitor numbers.

“The main beneficiaries of the strong demand for live entertainment are not the organisers, but the artists”

“Artists and event organisers must give this some thought.”

The visit frequency, defined as the number of visits to live events per person annually, increased 8%, from 3.7 in 2013 to four in 2017.

Michow adds that artists, not promoters, are the ones who have mostly benefited from that 31% growth. “These figures should not obscure the fact that the main beneficiaries of the strong demand for live entertainment are not the organisers, but the artists,” he says. “Their continually increasing earnings expectations together with the ever increasing production costs and rising operational costs, are without doubt the main reason for the sales performance from event ticket sales.”

IQ’s European Arena Yearbook 2017 revealed that arenas in the GSA countries (Germany, Switzerland and Austria) had a particularly strong 2017 compared to venues elsewhere in Europe, although family shows are proving more popular than concerts.

The BDV study was undertaken by market research firm GfK with support from CTS Eventim.

 


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