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Festival Republic plans 38,000-cap Leicester fest

Live Nation’s Festival Republic has applied to Leicester City Council for a licence to launch a new two-day event in the city’s Victoria Park.

The name of the festival has not yet been revealed but, if approved, the multi-genre 38,000-cap event will take place from 16-17 September.

The festival would reportedly have two stages – one featuring around eight artists per day and the other showcasing DJs.

The venue has previously hosted concerts by Kasabian as well as BBC Radio 1’s One Big Sunday events in the early 2000s, which starred the likes of Craig David, Alicia Keys and Busted.

“It puts Leicester back on the map”

The news has been warmly welcomed by the local business community, with Festival Republic set to hold a drop-in event to answer questions this Wednesday (19 April).

“This is absolutely fantastic news, it’s what we’ve been waiting for,” Rachel Granger, professor of urban economics at Leicester’s De Montfort University, tells the BBC. “Leicester’s really had a very difficult run of years, what with Covid. It’s really been trying to find its feet since.

“It puts Leicester back on the map. It outlines the distinctiveness of the city – it’s always been a creative and artistic one.”


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Live music markets hit as more cities lock down

The Philippines has become the latest live entertainment market to be put back into lockdown amid concerns a surge in new coronavirus cases could push the healthcare system to collapse.

Stay-at-home orders are now in place in Manila and four surrounding provinces for the next two weeks, prohibiting residents from outdoor activity except for going out to buy essential goods or exercising outdoors.

The country only just emerged from one of the strictest lockdowns in June but after reporting a record 5,032 new infections on Sunday (2 June), numerous medical associations urged President Rodrigo Duterte to toughen restrictions.

The capital city is home to some of the country’s largest venues, including the SM Mall of Asia Arena, which in lieu of live events has transformed into a mega swabbing centre.

Across the Indian Ocean, Melbourne’s gradual reopening of nightlife is still on hold as the city battles a deadly second wave of coronavirus. Australia’s second-biggest city was put back into lockdown on 9 July after a localised outbreak of Covid-19.

Melbourne has recently mandated wearing masks and tightened a stay-at-home order to reduce transmissions.

Parts of Leicester have been relinquished from local lockdown, allowing venues in Leicester City to reopen from yesterday

The state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, is responsible for over half of Australia’s 18,300 recorded cases.

After Victoria recorded another 671 cases of coronavirus on Sunday and seven deaths, premier Daniel Andrews announced a “state of disaster”.

On Sunday (2 August), Andrews introduced new rules including a night-time curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am for the next six weeks.

In the UK, parts of Leicester have been relinquished from its local lockdown, allowing venues in Leicester City to reopen from yesterday (3 August). Though venues such as The Shed will remain closed, writing “Music venues still aren’t in the clear, and we’re aiming for September!” on its Facebook page.

English venues were preparing to reopen from 1 August but will no longer be able to do so after the government pushes back the next step of lockdown easing by at least two weeks.

Elsewhere, Botswana has reinstated lockdown in the capital, Gaborone, for two weeks after recording 30 new cases of coronavirus. The order took effect last Thursday (30 June).

“Essential services will operate at 25% capacity, there will be no movement within the Greater Gaborone Zone without a movement permit and movement to and from Greater Gaborone Zone will be void with immediate effect,” says Kereng Masupu, the coordinator of the presidential Covid-19 taskforce.

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Venues closed as major cities go back into lockdown

Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has become the latest major live entertainment market to be put back into lockdown amid a surge in new coronavirus cases.

The re-imposition of lockdown restrictions for six weeks – which will see Melburnians permitted to leave their houses only for work, education, exercise or to buy essential supplies – follows a spike in Covid-19 infections in the state of Victoria, which as of 13.30 local time today (8 July) had recorded some 147 new cases over the past 24 hours.

The abrupt halt to Melbourne’s gradual reopening will come as a blow to nightlife businesses in the city. Speaking to the ABC, Guy Lawson, who owns Melbourne’s Napier Hotel, says he hopes the hotel survives the second shutdown but fears “a lot” of venues will not.

“The second round of lockdown will put on a huge amount of pressure for the industry. Once we are able to reopen, it will no doubt be under restrictions again for some time,” Adam Betts, co-owner of the city’s Bonny Bar, tells alcohol trade title the Shout.

“Needless to say, revenue will be right down when we reopen for many months,” he adds, “and the economy will be in a recession. With reduced revenue, we will also have an increase in costs as a double blow.”

In Spain, local lockdowns are in place in Catalonia and Galicia

The second lockdown in Melbourne follows similar restrictions aimed at containing a second wave of Covid-19 infections elsewhere in the world.

In Spain, local lockdowns in Catalonia and, more recently, Galicia are proving similarly difficult for venue operators; in Catalonia, in north-eastern Spain, around 400,000 people are subject to stay-at-home orders, while in the north-western region of Galicia gatherings are once more restricted to ten people, in a local lockdown that affects an area of 70,000 people. Capacity at bars and restaurants is also limited to 50%.

Federal Germany has also seen several areas, including the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf in North Rhine-Westphalia, locked down after a spike in transmissions, with the English city of Leicester similarly currently subject to a local lockdown.

While music venues have yet to reopen in the UK, English bars, pubs and restaurants were permitted to reopen from Saturday 4 July. This, however, was not the case in Leicester, where residents face fines of up to £3,200 for repeatedly breaching stay-at-home orders.

As in Gütersloh, there is resentment in Leicester – home to around 330,000 people – that the rest of the country is being allowed to open up while their city is left behind. “It shows they have neglected Leicester,” resident Dhansukh Rana tells the Market Correspondent.

According to Leicester’s Curve Theatre, the 902-seat performing arts venue is losing £25,000 a day as a result of lockdown restrictions.

In China, customers may not spend any longer than two hours inside any one venue

Several US states, meanwhile, have been reintroducing restrictions as the country heads towards three million confirmed Covid-19 cases. A recent survey by the newly formed National Independent Venue Association found 90% of its members say, in the absence of government support, they will be forced to close permanently if the lockdown lasts six months or longer.

In contrast, China – where the coronavirus outbreak began in late 2019 – has “largely return[ed] to normalcy: restaurants, hotels and bars are open, and domestic travel has been loosened up so business people are able to travel around China now,” according to hospitality expert Ian Ford. The most recent local lockdown in China ended on Saturday (4 July), with residents of areas of Beijing judged “low risk” once again allowed to travel around the country without having to be first tested for Covid-19.

However, according to  the Chinese ministry of culture and tourism’s most recent reopening guidelines for indoor venues (including theatres, clubs and karaoke venues), that return to normality comes with several stipulations, including a two-hour time limit for customers.

According to the consumer protection section of the new guidelines, translated by Caixin, customers may not spend any longer than two hours inside any one indoor venue.

Additional restrictions include limiting entertainment venues to 50% of their normal capacity, while theatres are restricted to 30% and must leave at least one seat empty between every two people (ie ‘chequerboard seating’).

According to Caixin, the release of the guidelines on 22 June sparked heated debate among Chinese netizens: Some social media users argued that the two-hour time limit may actually backfire by speeding up the flow of customers, while others questioned how such a time limit could be strictly enforced.


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

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Promoter facing prosecution over ‘illegal’ Rita Ora posters

Leicester city council in the UK has warned the promoter of an upcoming Northampton show by Craig David and Rita Ora could face prosecution for unauthorised postering.

David and Ora, supported by Samantha Harvey and Bobii Lewis, will play Northampton’s 6,500-cap. County Ground on 1 November, promoted by Liz Hobbs Group. According to the council, which governs neighbouring Leicester, the show is being advertised using large posters which have been put up without permission and are obstructing the view of motorists.

As the posters are allegedly being displayed without permission, the council says it intends to take legal action against the promoter.

IQ has contacted Liz Hobbs Group for comment.

“The posters are being removed as we find them,” reads a statement given to the Northampton Chronicle & Echo. “Due to their size and location on the roadside they could be distracting to drivers and obstruct views, so are being removed by city wardens using powers under the Highways Act.

“They are being displayed without permission and we will be aiming to take action against the promoter, who could be liable to a fixed penalty of £80 per poster or prosecution in court, where the penalty can be up to £2,500.”


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Long-running Leicester venue changes hands

Leicester’s oldest grassroots music venue will soon be under new management.

As of 1 January 2017 The Shed will be operated by local promoter Dreaming in Colour Productions, whose managing director, 25-year-old Elisabeth Barker-Carley, has announced a full refurbishment the 200-capacity venue.

“The Shed is an integral part of the music industry, not only in Leicester but in the UK scene as a whole,” says Barkey-Carley. “It’s one of the longest-running venues around, with so much history from the many bands having found their live performing feet there. I just wish the walls could speak.

“It’s such an honour for me personally to be taking this venue on. I hope we do it justice with the acts we’ll be bringing in.”

“I know Elisabeth loves The Shed as much as me and I’m delighted to see her taking the venue forward”

Kevin Holyland, who has run the venue since its opening in 1994, adds: “Having opened The Attik in 1985 and then The Shed in 1994, I’m delighted that live music will be continuing at the venue and am especially happy that the running of this will now be passed on to someone who grew up coming to shows at The Shed. I know Elisabeth loves the venue as much as me and I’m delighted to see her taking the venue forward.”

Bands who performed at The Shed early in the careers include Ellie Goulding, Kasabian and the Arctic Monkeys.

The venue’s final event under its current management will be on new year’s eve.


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