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Rotterdam Ahoy’s RTM Stage up and running at last

Rotterdam Ahoy’s 7,819-cap music and entertainment venue RTM Stage is finally up and running after construction was completed during the 2020 lockdown.

The Dutch government announced in March that it was lifting all remaining restrictions on live events following tireless lobbying from the Netherlands’ live music sector.

RTM Stage can also be utilised as a mid-sized 4,000-cap arena in its ‘XL’ variant or as a 2,500-seater, making the venue is the largest theatre-sized venue in the Netherlands. The new concert hall forms part of a new development at the Ahoy that also includes the Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC).

After hosting Miss Montreal, RTM Stage has upcoming concerts by artists including Ghost, 5 Seconds of Summer, Keith Urban, Five Finger Death Punch with special guests Megadeth.

“It was a special time to open a new concert hall, but we are extremely proud of our complete expansion”

“It was a special time to open a new concert hall, but we are extremely proud of our complete expansion,” says Rotterdam Ahoy director Jolanda Jansen. “Everyone who enters RTM Stage is enthusiastic. You notice that people are happy with a new music stage in Rotterdam and in the Netherlands.

“With its different settings, RTM Stage is a unique mid-size arena in the Netherlands where concerts as well as events in theatre setting can take place. This is a concert hall with national and even international reach.

“Ahoy will always remain the sender of RTM Stage’s communications, but we have opted for a special appearance. Everyone should know that we have opened a new, trendy, state-of-the-art music hall and theatre!”

The existing Ahoy Arena (formerly the Sportpaleis), which dates from 1971, has a seated capacity of 16,426.

 


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Netherlands scraps capacity limit for seated shows

The Netherlands is relaxing its coronavirus regulations from 1 July, removing the capacity limit for seated indoor and outdoor events, provided fans have undergone health checks before entry.

The Dutch government announced the new measures yesterday (24 June), which include the retention of the one-and-a-half metre distancing rule at all events.

Reservations must also be made for events to enable contact tracing in the case of a new outbreak of the virus.

Festivals in the Netherlands will have to obtain licences  from local authorities before being able to resume, which is unlikely to happen before mid-August.

The capacity limit for events that do not undertake health checks will increase to 100 for indoor venues and 250 for outdoor shows from 1 July.

“For us, the 1.5 metre society is not the new normal; the wider regulations are still hardly or not at all viable and not cost-effective for our industry”

Nightclubs and discos remain closed until 1 September – which was the original deadline for the ban on large-scale events. The rules for clubs and similar venues will be reassessed at the end of August.

The Dutch association of event makers (Vereniging van evenementenmakers – VVEM) welcomes the relaxations, but states it is “not yet satisfied”, stressing the need for a roadmap detailing when business as usual can resume.

“This is a good start, but we are not there yet,” says Rotterdam Ahoy’s Jolanda Jansen on behalf of the VVEM. “For us, the 1.5 metre society is not the new normal; the wider regulations are still hardly or not at all viable and not cost-effective for our industry. This is still going to cost companies, jobs and events.”

In particular, the organisation is lobbying for a removal of the distancing rule, which it says should be replaced with more testing and tracing.

Photo: Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken/Flickr (CC-BY SA 2.0) (cropped)

 


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ILMC speaker spotlight: John Langford, EAA/AEG

The International Live Music Conference (ILMC) is now just over a week away and, as more and more chairs and panellists are announced, IQ catches up with some key speakers to hear what they hope to get out of this year’s conference.

Following on from the previous Speaker Spotlight, IQ talks to John Langford, president of the European Arenas Association (EAA) and AEG Europe COO.

Langford is chairing the Venue’s Venue: New builds, new brands panel to discuss what further competition and consolidation we can expect to see in the fast-evolving venue market.

He will be joined by panellists Jolanda Jansen (Rotterdam Ahoy), Brian Kabatznick (Oak View Group), Tom Lynch (ASM Global), Thomas Ovesen (Diriyah Gate Development Authority) and Harry Samuel (LiveStyled).

 


IQ: What do you expect to be the main talking points at your panel?

JL: I expect there will be lots of talk of new buildings and new markets. New arenas are not cheap, and returns can be limited in competitive markets or marginal locations, so what’s driving expansion and development plans? And what’s the reality of a ‘new arena model’?

Outside of Europe there are some exciting developments and new opportunities. We will look at what’s hot in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and ask whether building venues in those markets will create more demand for touring.

New arenas are not cheap, and returns can be limited, so what’s driving expansion and development plans?

With competition and consolidation in the venue market at an all-time high, has that had an affect on your day-to-day jobs?

Yes, absolutely. I am sure that each of the panel members can talk more to their experiences over the last eighteen months. From mergers to new players in the market, there’s a lot to talk about.

Would it be fair to say the large venue sector is among the most interesting parts of the music business right now?

Personally I believe that the entire live industry is in huge transformation. Specifically on the venue side, what we’re seeing in the large venue sector is mild compared to the storms facing grassroots venues. Business rates, gentrification, Brexit, skills shortages – it’s a minefield out there!

Is there anything else you’re particularly looking forward to at ILMC?

A cold Fightback lager at the end of a long day. All proceeds go to the Music Venues Trust! Beer with a conscience.

The Venue’s Venue panel is taking place at 10 a.m. on Thursday 5 March at ILMC.

 


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