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Germany’s BDKV welcomes culture pass for teenagers

Germany’s live music trade body the BDKV has backed the introduction of a nationwide culture pass for young people.

The scheme, which will see those who turn 18 next year receive €200 to spend on concert or theatre tickets – as well as books and audio media – was unveiled last week by government ministers Claudia Roth and Christian Lindner.

Similar initiatives were rolled out in Spain, France and Italy earlier this year with the aim of generating new habits of cultural consumption for teenagers, post-pandemic. Jens Michow, outgoing president of the BDKV, applauds the move, which is designed to give young people easier access to cultural offerings..

“The project is now of particular importance for our industry, as the increased costs in all areas naturally also have an impact on ticket prices,” he says. “If this access threshold is lowered with the pass, at least for younger people, this is also a contribution to stabilising the still problematic economic situation of the cultural events industry.”

Michow also took the opportunity to stress the importance of additional targeted assistance for cultural events.

“If we are forced to cancel well-financed concerts or even tours due to the illness of an artist, unfortunately even a culture pass will no longer help us”

“If, from January 2023, we lack any rescue package in the event of event cancellations due to the pandemic – for example, tour cancellations that become necessary due to an artist being infected with corona – that will have an existential impact on the event companies concerned,” he says.

“Of course, the industry currently welcomes any measure that leads to an increase in the currently sluggish demand for concerts and other cultural events. However, if we are forced to cancel well-financed concerts or even tours due to the illness of an artist, unfortunately even a culture pass will no longer help us.”

Michow adds that the continued struggles of event companies mean that a new cultural start-up programme developed for live event organisers should be extended at least until the end of 2023.

“Unfortunately, the goal originally set with this program of mitigating the effects of the corona pandemic in the cultural sector and maintaining live music events as an essential part of Germany’s cultural infrastructure has not yet been achieved,” he adds.

The BDKV now represents the interests of more than 420 companies in the German event industry.

 


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Germany’s live music body BDKV reveals new board

Germany’s Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) has elected a new board, spearheaded by new president Sonia Simmenauer.

Promoter, publicist and impresaria Simmenauer will work alongside managing director Johannes Everke, who has been in office since 1 November and will take over the management from 1 January, 2023.

The newly designed and downsized board of directors also includes deputy president Christian Doll (C² Concerts), Daniel Domdey (d2mberlin, Die Wühlmäuse), Christian Gerlach (Neuland Concerts), Verena Krämer (wahn. witty bramer.krämer GbR, kulturkraemer), Michaela Russ (SKS Erwin Russ) and Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio Konzertproduktionen).

BDKV’s 400+ members have thanked outgoing president Prof. Jens Michow for the work he has done for the events industry in recent years and for the successes he has achieved.

Since 1985, Michow has been the executive president of the IDK and later the BDV (Federal Association of the Event Industry). In 2018 he also took over the management of the BDKV, which merged with Pascal Funke’s VDKD (Association of Concert Management).

“[Jens Michow’s] legacy encourages and inspires me”

Michow says: “I sincerely wish the new board team and managing director all the best for their future work. They are taking office in a difficult time of crisis and will therefore have to master very special challenges. To do this, they must quickly develop good contacts with political Berlin, the parties and members of the Bundestag as well as the technical level of the ministries, but also with the state governments and the numerous bodies in which the BDKV is represented.”

Michow’s successor, Simmenauer, was already a member of the board of the VDKD and, since the merger, also of the BDKV. The concert agent founded her company Impresariat Simmenauer in Hamburg in 1989.

The agency has been based in Berlin since 2009 and represents a number of the world’s most important chamber music ensembles and soloists. After numerous teaching activities, she became an honorary professor at the Hamburg University of Music in the field of music education in 2010.

Simmenauer adds: “I am very grateful to the members for their trust and I am now full of energy to set new trends together with the board team and to build on the success of the outgoing executive president Prof. Jens Michow. His legacy encourages and inspires me.”

BDKV now represents the interests of more than 420 companies in the German event industry and thus represents a market turnover of around €5 billion annually.

 


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German biz cannot survive without aid, says alliance

Germany’s live industry says it will not be able to cope with new challenges such as skyrocketing energy prices if the government does not provide further financial aid.

Jens Michow, president of the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV), was invited to a government hearing, held on Wednesday (12 October), to discuss the consequences of the energy crisis on the cultural sector.

He told the committee for culture and media that the crisis is presenting the industry with another existential threat and that it has not been able to properly restart after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among other things, Michow called for the existing Neustart Kultur II (Restart Culture 2) fund to be continued at least until the end of 2023 and for the organisers to be relieved of the burden of absorbing increases in energy costs at the venues.

In addition, he urged the government to create a fund for cultural events that can be used if events are no longer economical due to excessively increased energy costs, and also to strengthen the energy self-sufficiency of venues.

“We demand that all remaining funds from 2022 remain unrestricted in the economic sector”

Michow also told the committee that it was a major problem for the industry that from 2023 there would no longer be any cover for event cancellations caused by the pandemic.

“[The €2.5 billion government-backed insurance pot] is expected to have remaining funds of €1.5–1.8 billion by the end of the year. We demand that all remaining funds from 2022 remain unrestricted in the economic sector for which they were originally made available,” he said.

Last month, IQ heard from a number of European arenas who also said that skyrocketing energy costs are emerging as the sector’s biggest challenge since the Covid-19 pandemic.

AEG-owned Barclays Arena (formerly the Barclaycard Arena) in Hamburg, Germany, was among the venues that reported a “huge” increase in energy costs.

 


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German government appoints live events contact

German live music association BDKV has expressed its relief after its plea for an official government contact for the live events industry were answered.

Michael Kellner, the parliamentary state secretary to the federal minister for economic affairs and climate protection, has been confirmed as a permanent contact person for the cultural and creative industries, with Dr Andreas Görgen, head of office for the culture and media commissioner, named as deputy.

Welcoming the news, the BDKV says the decision is a step in the right direction given the industry’s sluggish return from the pandemic and additional complications created by the energy crisis.

“For the German cultural event companies, which are still suffering significantly from the economic consequences of the pandemic and are now also facing the major challenges of the energy crisis, a contact person at ministerial level in both the economic and cultural sectors is of fundamental importance,” says BDKV president Jens Michow.

“We hope to be able to work out ways in regular personal talks that will enable the industry to survive economically”

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) – which includes the BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry) and venue association LiveKomm (LiveMusikKommission) – has previously called for clarity on the government’s Covid containment plans for the winter period.

The body had repeatedly expressed its frustration at the authorities’ apparent reluctance to engage directly with the industry, as well as the lack of aid measures planned for the sector should a worse-case scenario emerge in the coming months.

“Today, the live performances financed and organised by the cultural events industry are the main source of income not only for all performing artists and authors, but also for numerous downstream economic sectors as well as the large number of independent service providers and self-employed people,” adds Michow.

“In recent months, the organisers’ associations have repeatedly explained to both ministries the particular problems facing the industry and hope to be able to work out ways in regular personal talks that will enable the industry to survive economically.”


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German industry warning over Covid winter plan

Live event organisers in Germany have issued a preemptive warning to the government over potential Covid restrictions in the autumn and winter.

Should containment measures be deemed necessary again due to a future surge in infections, the Event Management Forum says it is “imperative” they do not include capacity limits or social distancing requirements for concerts.

“Music clubs can only survive without capacity restrictions, distance rules and the obligation to wear masks,” says LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich. “We can come to terms with the need for PCR tests at the highest risk level – if the hospital and KRITIS burden make it absolutely necessary. However, the cost of the tests must be borne by the state. The social and societal aspects of the pandemic must not be neglected.”

“Ticket sales are extremely poor for many events”

Marcus Pohl, chair of event industry trade body ISDV, underlines the need for “concrete talks” between the sector and the German authorities to formulate a plan for the autumn.

“The course must now be set so that the sixth-largest branch of the economy with 248,000 companies does not hit the wall for the hopefully last few metres and the previous aid thus misses the goal of preserving companies and jobs,” he adds.

Despite a number of successful music events going ahead this summer, BDKV president Jens Michow warns the overall economic situation remains precarious for the business.

“Ticket sales for cultural events are extremely poor for many events,” he says. “There are numerous reasons for this, such as the continuing uncertainty of the audience and now also growing fears due to rising inflation and the effects of the war in Ukraine.

“The industry is therefore still in a very desolate situation, in which it only takes a small gust of wind to finally tip it over.”

 


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German biz calls for clarity on Covid winter plan

Germany’s events business is calling for clarity on the government’s Covid containment plans for the autumn and winter period.

The Event Management Forum (EMF), which includes the BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry) and venue association LiveKomm (LiveMusikKommission), has welcomed recommendations drawn up in preparation for potential developments with the pandemic.

According to Die Welt, plans reportedly under discussion include considerations for masks to be made compulsory in all indoor public spaces during the winter months.

However, the EMF expresses frustration at the authorities’ continued reluctance to engage directly with the industry, and the lack of aid measures planned for the sector should a worse-case scenario emerge in the coming months, leading to the re-introduction of social distancing measures and capacity restrictions at concerts.

“Organisers don’t plan tours overnight and must therefore be able to anticipate the feasibility of their events in order to avoid damage,” says Axel Ballreich, chair of LiveKomm.

“Ticket sales for cultural events are already going extremely poorly because the audience first wants to wait and see whether events”

Having previously reported weak advance sales for shows planned for autumn 2022 and spring 2023 due to low consumer confidence, BDKV president Jens Michow reiterates the market is still plagued by uncertainty.

“Ticket sales for cultural events are already going extremely poorly because the audience first wants to wait and see whether events are taking place reliably,” says Michow. “Added to that, many fear the risk of infection or have changed their leisure behaviour due to the crisis.

“Also, the price increases that have taken place in all areas and the uncertainty as to what effects the war in Ukraine in the coming months will have is causing German people to limit their spending on leisure time.”

 


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German live industry reports sluggish return

Live music promoters in Germany have reported sluggish ticket sales for upcoming concerts, despite the lifting of Covid restrictions.

BDKV president Jens Michow reports weak advance sales for shows planned for autumn 2022 and spring 2023, exacerbated by staffing shortages and an oversupply of events, while no-show rates have ranged from 15-40%

LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich tells Backstage Pro that outdoor gigs are proving significantly more popular than indoor shows. Older music fans have been more hesitant to return to shows since the restart, he adds, and at least a third of the workforce is yet to return since leaving the touring business due to the onset of Covid-19.

Ballreich says that his costs have already risen by 20-30%, and increases in catering and security are anticipated to be between 30% and 50%, with industry figures fearing the economic effects of the pandemic will continue to rumble on until 2024.

“Our dependence on state aid will not end anytime soon”

A special fund introduced for cultural events is currently set to expire at the end of June, but BDKV president Jens Michow stresses that some live music companies will not be able to generate income again until mid-2023 at the earliest.

“Our dependence on state aid will therefore not end anytime soon,” he says. “That’s why I make it clear to politicians every day that organisers cannot go back to 100% overnight.”

Michow also notes a lack of confidence among consumers due to repeat concert cancellations during the pandemic, while there remains uncertainty as to whether capacity limits will need to be re-introduced in the autumn.

“In the event that there are restrictions again, we need an economic rescue package now… that we can use if there are capacity restrictions again or even a new lockdown for our industry,” he adds.

“The industry is still a long way from the economic level of 2019”

Full capacity shows have been permitted in Germany since March, but the country’s much-trumpeted “freedom day” was met with a muted response from event professionals due to federal states retaining the power to impose “hot-spot regulations” to deal with future outbreaks.

“With the temporary end of the Corona measures, the event business is starting up again in small steps,” says Germany’s Event Management Forum, which includes BDKV and LiveKomm, among other cultural organisations. “However, the industry is still a long way from the economic level of 2019.

“Above all, there is a lack of sufficient planning security. The bridging aid expires at the end of June [and] a programme ‘Neustart Kultur 3’, which would be urgently needed in the coming year, is not yet being planned.

“The situation in the economic sector is made more difficult by the public’s considerable reluctance to buy, rising inflation and the expected economic effects of the war in Ukraine. And since nobody knows how the pandemic situation will develop after the summer, there is an urgent need for a rescue package that takes effect.”

 


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Germany’s live biz says Freedom Day ‘not in sight’

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) has warned of the challenges still facing the live music sector despite parliament voting to scrap most Covid restrictions.

Last month, the country confirmed a gradual approach to reopening, amid falling infection numbers. Limits on major outdoor events were raised from 10,000 to 25,000 (or 75% capacity) on 4 March, and clubs were allowed to reopen, with full capacity shows permitted from this Sunday’s much-trumpeted “Freedom Day”.

Though cases have since surged to record levels, with 297,845 new coronavirus cases and 226 deaths reported over the last 24 hours according to the Robert Koch Institute, lawmakers backed an amendment to the Infection Protection Act, which removes the need to wear face masks in most public settings.

“We can’t continue to put the entire country under a shield in order to protect a small group of people who are unwilling to get vaccinated,” said health minister Karl Lauterbach. “The balance is being shifted.”

However, the EMF, which includes live music bodies BDKV and LiveKomm, has raised concerns that, due to high case numbers, several federal states have announced they plan to maintain Covid restrictions even after the transition period ends on 2 April, and have the power to impose “hot-spot regulations” to deal with future outbreaks.

“The patchwork of measures is thus growing,” it says. “In addition, the regulations are limited until 23 September 2022 and dealing with a further wave in autumn is completely open.”

“The uncertainty remains as to what will happen in autumn”

Marcus Pohl, chair of the ISDV, the trade body for the event industry’s independent service providers, says the plans lack long-term perspective.

“If no further changes are made to the version of the present draft law to amend the Infection Protection Act, a return to normality is not in sight,” he says.

“Even if events will be possible in many places in the coming months and, for example, the clubs can govern at short notice, the uncertainty remains as to what will happen in autumn,” says LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich, who is calling on the government to name a specific point of contact to restart a dialogue with the sector.

The organisation is also proposing the implementation of a nationwide, tiered process to protect against infection going forward.

“In the first step, an FFP2 mask requirement may be sufficient,” it says. “In a second stage, it must be possible that only 2G or 2G plus visitors, for example, are allowed access to the event. In the next step, a restriction to 3G and a seat plus mask in the aisles can represent the next higher measure without capping capacity.

“Only when the infection has exceeded a hospitalisation rate to be defined should a distance requirement be imposed. In this case, however, an economic aid must be granted for all types of events. In addition, there needs to be a clear, nationwide regulation on the required vaccination status for participants and guests of events arriving from abroad.”

“Events with capacity restrictions have not been economical in the past two years and will not be able to be so in the future either,” reiterates BDKV president Prof Jens Michow reiterated . “You cannot generate 100% costs with an income possibility of 75%.”

 


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‘Many questions unanswered’ on Germany reopening

Promoters in Germany have warned “many questions remain unanswered” about the country’s reopening, despite the promise of a long-awaited “Freedom Day” next month.

A gradual restart is underway that will see capacity limits on major outdoor events raised to 25,000 (or 75% capacity) – and indoor events to 6,000 (or 60% capacity) – on 4 March, with clubs also allowed to reopen from that date. Most other Covid curbs will then be axed from 20 March, although “low-threshold basic protective measures”, such as mask-wearing, will still apply.

The Event Management Forum has expressed its relief at the “steps back towards normality” being taken by the government, but says the plans require “considerable clarity” and currently appear to fall short of the industry’s needs.

“Should it mean that capacity restrictions are perhaps only reduced but basically continue to exist, the event industry would still be a long way from a ‘Freedom Day’,” says Prof Jens Michow, president of live music association BDKV. “Cost-efficiency presupposes that we at least have the chance to generate 100% income with 100% costs. To do this, we must be able to use the hall capacities to the full. As long as we don’t have this chance, we will still not be able to speak of normality in our economic sector.”

“Many questions remain unanswered,” adds Linda Residovic, MD of VPLT (Association for Media and Event Technology). “What happens in the fall when the incidence rises again? What help will continue to be available for the fall should it be needed? The events industry still can’t rely on anything and that’s why the opening in March will not bring about a restart in all areas.”

“Renewed lockdowns and closures must be prevented”

LiveKomm chair Axel Ballreich warns: “It must now be ensured that outdoor events can take place in summer without any restrictions. This includes standing room, without a mask, dancing and partying. If we do not receive this security immediately, we will have to cancel events now out of fairness to our guests, but also in the interest of minimising damage.”

Last week, venues association LiveKomm made an urgent appeal to policy makers under the motto “Dance out and quiet. The end of club and festival culture as we know it.” It has warned that clubs and festivals are concerned there is still a lack of knowledge about the planning effort required to run them.

“Door checks are part of everyday club life, which is why measures such as 2G-plus are easier to implement there than a mask requirement, which does not go together with club life and drinking,” says executive director Steffen Kache. “There shouldn’t be any talk of distance. Below 50% [capacity], every opening is like a lockdown – unless clear help is provided – at 75-80% there is at least the hope of self-sufficient operation again.

“Furthermore, the club and festival industry is demanding a confrontation with further threatening corona waves for the coming autumn. Renewed lockdowns and closures must be prevented, after two years politicians can be asked to take preventive measures and plans that start before the wave to protect the cultural industry. Anything else would be a total failure.”

 


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German live business demands end to restrictions

Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) is pleading for the government to follow the lead of other European nations and drop all Covid restrictions.

At the start of February, Denmark became the first country in the EU to announce it was ending all coronavirus measures and no longer classifying Covid-19 as a socially dangerous disease. Sweden will followed suit from tomorrow (9 February) and Finland will relax curbs from next week.

England’s Plan B measures, which included a mandate for facemasks and vaccine passports (or a negative LFT) at concerts, were also dropped in January and other UK markets have been rolling back restrictions.

However, Germany currently only allows up to 10,000 spectators at major outdoor events, and up to 4,000 participants in indoor spaces. Masks must be worn, and proof of vaccination or recovery, as well as a booster shot or negative test status (depending on the state) will also be required. Events that do not qualify as national major events with over 2,000 spectators still fall under state-specific rules.

“The corona rules are being relaxed not only in most of the neighbouring European countries, but also in the federal states,” says Prof Jens Michow, president of live music association BDKV. “The mask requirement has been abolished and distance rules no longer exist. It is high time that this finally happened across the country without restrictions.”

“The fact that there is still no binding exit strategy that enables organisers to plan reliably is no longer acceptable”

The BDKV is part of the EMF alliance, which consists of five major organisations including fellow live music trade body LiveKomm.

“We have respected and fully implemented all containment measures since the beginning of the pandemic,” adds Michow. “However, the fact that there is still no binding exit strategy that enables organisers to plan reliably is no longer acceptable. We call on the federal government to take appropriate decisions immediately.”

Axel Ballreich, first chairman of Livekomm, adds that the industry is no longer alone in calling for measures to be axed.

“An increasing number of doctors and politicians are also calling for an end to the containment measures,” he says. “Limiting indoor events to 1,000 and open air events to 10,000 people is really no longer comprehensible.”

The German events business has welcomed a mooted extension to the short-term work allowance – which provides partial compensation for loss of earnings due to the pandemic – from late March until the end of June, but warns that is not enough for the industry.

“Despite considerable aid, the industry is increasingly bleeding out economically. Aid is being reclaimed, deferred taxes are already being made due by the tax authorities, although the situation in the industry has actually deteriorated in the meantime,” adds Marcus Pohl, first chairman of the interest group of independent service providers in the event industry (ISDV). “We must be allowed to work without restrictions again, otherwise we will lose an important branch of the economy that was still one of the top markets in the world in 2019. There must finally be a functioning restart for us too.”

 

 


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