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German associations criticise gov’s exit strategy

Event Management Forum, an alliance that comprises Germany’s five associations for the events industry, has slammed the federal government for a ‘lack of perspective’ for the sector in the newly announced reopening strategy.

Yesterday (3 March), the German government announced that the country’s lockdown would be extended by three weeks until 28 March but for the first time, Angela Merkel’s cabinet has revealed a reopening plan which will depend on the regional infection rate.

Live music venues, theatres and opera houses may only reopen in step four, when the seven-day incidence rate has stayed below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants for at least 14 days, no earlier than 22 March.

In the meantime, from 8 March, book shops, florists and garden centres will be allowed to reopen as long as strict hygiene measures are in place. Many primary students returned to school last week.

Olaf Zimmermann, MD of the German Cultural Council, says: “The development of the incidence value will decide in the next few weeks whether and under what conditions cultural institutions are allowed to open. This shows a first way out of the lockdown for bookshops, museums, galleries, memorials, cinemas, theatres as well as concert and opera houses.”

“Simply postponing the promised perspective for the event industry to the end of March is not acceptable for the industry”

Culture minister, Monika Grütters, says: “Art is indispensable, it is a source of inspiration and irritation, reflection and innovation. Culture finally brings people out of their domestic isolation. That is why culture must be taken into account in all opening debates from the start. Cultural institutions were the first to close, you mustn’t be the last to open again now.”

Event Management Forum – which recently presented a comprehensive roadmap for Germany’s return to live music – says: “It is incomprehensible that, contrary to the announced cross-sector opening strategy, only a few sub-segments are initially promised openings. Only by creating uniform framework conditions can the cultural and economic standstill be ended and trust rebuilt.

“Simply postponing the promised perspective for the event industry to the end of March is not acceptable for the industry. Politicians still fail to recognise that events often have lead times from a few months to a year or longer. An opening plan until Easter is therefore not a prospect.”

“The event industry has been in a lockdown for a year. Unlike in many areas of the economy, there was no real opening in the last year. Therefore, in addition to planning the restart, the extension and adaptation of the aid measures beyond summer 2021 must now also be discussed.”

The alliance groups BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry), venue association LiveKomm (LiveMusikKommission), 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).

The alliance hopes to take its roadmap, titled Manifest Restart, to the federal government.

 


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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.

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Music Industry Forum: German assocs present united front

Six industry associations, including live sector bodies BDKV and LiveKomm, have joined forces to create Germany’s first pan-music industry grouping.

Dubbed the Music Industry Forum (Forum Musikwirtschaft), the new alliance comprises the BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry), venue association LiveKomm (LiveMusikKommission), DMV (German Music Publishers’ Association), VUT (Association of Independent Music Companies), SOMM (Society of Music Merchants) and recording industry body BVMI (Federal Association of the Music Industry).

While the Music Industry Forum is not a formal umbrella body (in the vein of UK Music or Spain’s Esmúsica), the six partners say the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis have made them realise the need for a collective voice of the German music industry.

“We live in a time of solidarity and alliances, and also in a time when we have all recognised that acting together brings more than working individually,” explains BDKV head Jens Michow (pictured), speaking to MusikWoche. “The music industry has never spoken with one voice before now, and it is a great achievement to be able to do on issues that affect us all.”

“The music industry has never spoken with one voice before”

VUT managing director Jörg Heidemann says working together will allow the music industry to present a united front to government. Usually, he says, “we are too business-focused for the BKM [ministry of culture and media] and too culture-oriented for the ministry of economic affairs, so we are sent back and fourth between them without ever really getting a foot in the door.”

Among the first priorities for the Music Industry Forum will be to organise a joint conference and prepare research on the German music industry.

Despite launching amid the Covid-19 pandemic, SOMM’s Daniel Knöll says he hopes the partnership will “continue to exist even after the corona era”.

“We have all identified numerous topics where we have the same objectives, even under more normal conditions,” he explains, “and we will be able to increase the political pressure if we permanently pool the strengths of these six business associations.”

 


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Experts warn GMVs need support as German gov steps up

Grassroots venues lobbyists came together in the latest IQ Focus panel to discuss the government aid the sector desperately needs and why social distancing can never work.

Available to watch back now on the IQ website, as well as on Facebook and YouTube, the session featured Ticktemaster’s Sarah Slater in conversation with the Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd, the National Independent Venue Association’s Rev. Moose, LiveKomm’s Karsten Schölermann, Dachstock’s Kathy Flück and Lluís Torrents of Catalonian venue association Asacc.

Schölermann proved the envy of the panel – and those watching – upon revealing that the German government has dedicated €50 million to help grassroots music venues (GMVs) – enough money to prop up the sector for a year, part of a wider €150m live music support package.

“From our point of view, the german government has done well,” said Schölermann. “Now we just need to figure out how to use that money to reopen after such an intense set back.”

Davyd, who has so far raised over £1.5m (€1.7m) with MVT’s Save Our Venues campaign says this kind of sector-specific support is what GMVs in the UK need. MVT has calculated that sector has received £35m (€39m) so far from general government support packages, but has so far lost £48m.

“Now we just need to figure out how to use that money to reopen after such an intense set back”

“We need to get to a point where the government can deal with sectors specifically,” said Davyd.

For Torrents, the government’s underappreciation of live music as a cultural force is the main obstacle, whereas Flück also appeared dissatisfied with the Swiss government’s support, saying the “responsibility is very much on [event] organisers” to figure out how to survive the crisis and reopen safely.

In the United States, the grassroots sector had no representative body until very recently. “In a time of crisis, it was obvious that there was no one fighting on indie venues behalf,” said Moose, who co-founded the US National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) in April.

Starting the conversation around small venues has been easy, but urgent action still needs to be taken in the US, said Moose.

“If we can’t get the assistance to get through this period, the market is going to shift in a significant way.”

Venues reopening under social distancing measures was ruled out by the panellists, with Davyd saying that, in the UK, only 2 to 3% of venues could open under the two metre distancing rules, “and they would be hemorrhaging money doing so”.

“If we can’t get the assistance to get through this period, the market is going to shift in a significant way”

Torrents, who is the co-director of Barcelona venue Razzmatazz agrees that any form of social distancing is a “temporary and exceptional situation”.

“In the long term, we will recover the true normal. [Going to venues] should be a social activity, we cannot apply social distancing measures to this,” said Torrents, pointing out the oxymoronic nature of the very phrase “social distancing”.

“We should resist until we can open with a minimum of 60 to 70% capacity, but never less.”

Schölermann discussed alternatives way for venues to reopen such as putting on matinee shows, with multiple, short concerts being played throughout a day and, potentially, venues being open for 24 hours to make up numbers.

Venues will have to use space better, he said, suggesting the reappropriation of outdoor spaces such as car parks for staging shows.

“We can and will find out how to survive.”

“We should resist until we can open with a minimum of 60 to 70% capacity, but never less”

For Davyd, a kind of on-the-door testing system would allow GMVs to open at full capacity, with the knowledge that no-one at the show had the virus.

“If I was in government, that’s what I’d be focused on – testing.”

In times of crisis, there are some positives to draw. Moose noted that those who “are typically somewhat adversarial are now working towards the same goals”, with the result that the whole industry is now more prepared to address its problems.

Davyd added that the importance of the sector has really come to light for all in recent months.

“Maybe this is an opportunity to shake things up and reimagine how we respect the value of GMVs in society and also within government.”

The next IQ Focus session, The Agency Business 3.0, is taking place on Thursday 11 June at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, with panellists Angus Baskerville (13 Artists), Jules de Lattre (UTA), Maria May (CAA) and Tom Schroeder (Paradigm).

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Neustart Kultur: Germany pledges €150m for live music

The German federal government has pledged €150 million for the live music industry as part of a €1 billion package to revive Germany’s coronavirus-crippled creative sector.

The 12-month Neustart Kultur (‘Restart Culture’) programme will make available €150m for live music – ie “music venues, festivals, [concert] organisers and agents”, according to a government press release – alongside new funding for theatre and dance (also €150m), cinemas and the film sector (€120m), radio broadcasters (€20m), and galleries, book publishers and other “socio-cultural centres” (€30m), among others.

A total of €450m is also available to make “cultural institutions fit for reopening”. Intended for organisations which don’t already receive public funding, the grant will finance “new hygiene concepts”, such as paper-free ticketing or improved ventilation systems in venues.

Karsten Schoelermann, head of German venue association LiveKomm, who appeared on yesterday’s IQ Focus panel, Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis, says he hopes a significant portion of the scheme will be directed to grassroots music venues. “We must now find out how we can keep our [small] music stages alive, and get them ready for a new start,” he explains.

“We will support cinemas and music clubs … to reopen their doors as soon as possible”

Monika Grütters, Germany’s federal commissioner for culture and the media, says the aid should be matched by “concrete steps for reopening” on the part of those receiving it. “Culture is not a luxury that you can only afford in good times,” she adds.

Neustart Kultur is the latest package of support measures for the German creative industries during the Covid-19 pandemic, following a €50bn “rescue umbrella” of grants and loans in late March and the introduction of a ticket voucher scheme to protect promoters’ cash flow early the following month.

“With an additional one billion euros, we support the restarting of cultural life in Germany and set the course for the future,” comments Grütters. “I am proud to say that this is almost exactly half of our annual budget, which has grown significantly over the past few years.

“We will support cinemas and music clubs, memorials and museums, theatres and festivals, and many other cultural institutions to reopen their doors as soon as possible. For us, maintaining and securing Germany’s cultural infrastructure is the key to creating job opportunities for artists across the country once more.”

 


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Hard-hit grassroots sector focus of next IQ panel

Following on from The Innovation Session last week, the next panel in the IQ Focus series looks at the unique challenges that the Covid-19 crisis poses for grassroots music venues.

Featuring those working on the frontline to protect the world’s smaller venues, the Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis panel will look at what is needed to ensure these vital parts of the live music ecosystem remain in business.

Joining chair Sarah Slater, Ticketmaster UK’s vice president of music and festivals, are Mark Davyd, founder and CEO of grassroots venues charity the Music Venue Trust; Rev. Moose, co-founder of the newly formed National Independent Venue Association; Karsten Schölermann, chairman of German venue association LiveKomm; Lluís Torrents, president of Catalonian venue association Asacc (Associació de sales de concerts de catalunya) and co-director of Barcelona venue Razzmatazz; and Kathy Flück from Swiss venue the Dachstock.

Following a previous IQ Focus discussion on arenas, stadia and other large venues, the conversation now turns to grassroots venues which, although among the hardest hit by the shutdown, are likely to reopen earlier than many other parts of the business, bringing a distinct set of opportunities, challenges and questions.

Just what this reopening will look like, and what potential long-term changes can be expected, will be at the centre of the panellists’ conversation.

Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis will be streamed live on Thursday 4 June at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET.

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Indie venues fight back against coronavirus

The grassroots music sector has been hit hard by the spread of Covid-19, with iconic venues around the world shutting for the foreseeable future.

However, in the face of adversity, many venues are showing they have the creativity, following and sector support it takes to weather even the most turbulent of storms.

 

Venues get creative

Venues around the UK that have temporarily closed, including Glasgow’s Hug and Pint (100-cap.), the Leadmill in Sheffield (1,150-cap.) and the Boileroom in Guildford (275-cap.), are implementing crowdfunding or other fundraising methods to generate additional income.

The team at Hug and Pint, which is owned by 432 Presents, say they have been “overwhelmed” by the support of the community, and have raised almost a third of their £30,000 crowdfunding target in just three days. Donations can be made here.

The Glaswegian venue has also launched the Hug at Home, a food and drink delivery service serving up “freshly prepared classics from the Hug and Pint menu”.

The Leadmill in Sheffield is auctioning off memorabilia including a custom guitar signed by Arctic Monkeys, a signed Biffy Clyro setlist and signed posters for the likes of Miles Kane, Feeder, Blossoms, Belle & Sebastian, Circa Waves, Goldfrapp and many more.

The team at Hug and Pint say they have been “overwhelmed” by the support of the community

The venue is also encouraging fans to buy merchandise – and toilet rolls – from its online shop.

A number of music venues across the United States have also set up Go Fund Me pages and are selling merch in a bid to raise funds following the shuttering of venues in states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and South Carolina. A list of fundraising efforts is available on the Independent Venue Week website.

Many venues are also live streaming shows for fans to watch at home. US punk band Code Orange recently performed at a near-empty Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh, but streamed the show live on the video game-focused platform Twitch, attracting over 13,000 concurrent viewers during the performance.

In the Germany, home to Europe’s clubbing capital Berlin, venues are taking part in the United We Stream initiative, broadcasting live DJ sets and performances from empty clubs each night. Fans are encouraged to donate €10, €20 or €30 a month in exchange for a ‘virtual club ticket’ to support venues and event organisers during the closure.

Many venues are also live streaming shows for fans to watch at home

Associations rally

Italian association KeepOn Live has launched a similar initiative, #StayON, forming a programme of live streams from clubs across a number of different channels “to gather the world of music around a single large virtual stage”.

The association is also encouraging members to fill in a questionnaire to allow them to quantify the damage done by Covid-19.

The results of similar survey initiated by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) in the UK has estimated it would cost around £3.7 million to sustain the weekly costs of all 661 venues in its Music Venues Alliance.

The charity has surveyed members weekly since the start of March to gauge how venues have been affected by the outbreak. From 10 to 16 March, almost 92% of the 247 respondents, and 95% of those in London, said they had been “negatively impacted by public response to Covid-19″, jumping from just 40% the week before.

Although a large proportion – 86% and a staggering 98% in London – reported a decrease in gross income over the past week, a slightly lower number of venues (58% and 62% respectively), cancelled events last week due to the virus, although that figure jumped from just 19% the week before.

MVT is commencing a third survey on 23 March. “Following the government’s 16 March advice, we will add a first question of whether the venue is still trading,” states the MVT report.

“We expect this question to indicate that close to 100% of venues have now ceased all live music activity”

“We expect this question to indicate that close to 100% of venues have now ceased all live music activity, and will ask for details of staff layoffs and financial situations for respondents where this is the case.”

The MVT is using its data to lobby the government, asking for a legal enforcement of venue closures to allow venues to seek insurance payouts and for the creation of a £120 million relief fund.

Other European venue associations are taking a similar path. German venue association LiveKomm is lobbying the government to get measures such as the creation of an emergency fund for live events, the deferral of tax payments, grants to help cover rent and postponement of royalty payments for venues.

Petzi, which represents 113 small music venues in Switzerland, has put forward similar proposals, asking for temporary unemployed insurance for all self-employed workers in the cultural sector, easy access to short-time work for all small- and medium-sized enterprises, compensation for cancelled events , an emergency fund for cultural workers and businesses under threat and a continuation of public funding for culture.

What is your venue or association doing to fight back against Covid-19? Email anna@iq-mag.net to keep us updated on your efforts.

 


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Another €4.2m for music, including grassroots venues, in Germany

Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag, has approved a €4.15 million increase in spending on music in 2018–19, of which €2m has been earmarked for the promotion of ‘small concerts’ in grassroots venues.

Of the new funding, €2m will be put towards the Applaus prize, awarded to club-size music venues annually, and €2m towards small concerts (Kleinstkonzerte) in independent venues, which are recognised for “shaping and enriching our cultural life, both in the cities and in rural areas”, according to a statement from Initiative Musik, the recipient of the funding.

Initiative Musik – the export office for popular music, backed by the federal commissioner for culture and media – will additionally devote 150,000 towards a ‘club study’ examining the challenges faced by grassroots venues.

The new funding follows a €8.2m increase in 2016–17, part of which was put towards modernising clubs’ audio, lighting and production equipment.

“The decision of the Bundestag shows us that our issues are taken seriously at the federal level, and that the work of the association is paying off,” says Karsten Schölermann, chairman of the Live Music Commission (LiveKomm), which will be a partner on the project.

“We want to strengthen the many smaller clubs throughout the country”

“Providing the funds for micro-concerts, which we hope will provide sustainable and lasting access for young artists to club stages, is a milestone for which we have long struggled.

“The fact that we are also allowed to launch our own, scientifically sound, club study rounds off the support package, because we still know too little about the cultural and economic conditions in our diverse club landscape.”

The minister of state for culture, Monika Grütters, adds: “With the additional funds for Initiative Musik, we want to strengthen the many smaller clubs throughout the country. They inspire with their programmes by going beyond the economically successful mainstream, bringing artistically outstanding young musicians to the stage.

“By strengthening Applaus and launching a new programme for small concerts, we want to promote this important cultural commitment and reward artists with their first professional performances.”

 


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Alarm bells over Germany’s struggling small venues

Many of Germany’s club venues are on an “extremely precarious” economic footing, a leading industry association has warned, squeezed by excessive taxation, restrictive licensing conditions and a lack of investment from local and federal authorities.

At its annual meeting last month, LiveMusikKommission (LiveKomm) – which represents more than 400 German venues – called on political parties to commit to greater support for small and medium-sized venues ahead of May’s general election, outlining a set of ‘election touchstones’ it says are necessary to avert a grassroots-venues crisis, as has been seen in London, Toronto and Austin, Texas.

“The small venue scene in Germany has many problems,” LiveKomm policy spokesman Olaf Möller tells IQ, saying licensing red tape and gentrification are leading to an increasing number of closures.

Möller says a rise in demand for city centre property – and, predictably, a concurrent rise in noise complaints – is further compounding problems: “People want to have [music venues] in cities,” he explains, “and it’s a huge problem that one person can take them to court because of noise – regardless of how long they’ve been living there or how popular the venue is.”

“It’s a huge problem that one person can take venues to court because of noise, regardless of how long they’ve been living there”

Among LiveKomm’s demands are for a separate Kulturgebiet (‘cultural area’) category in building regulations, providing a legal framework for music (at a maximum noise level of 70 dBA) to be allowed to continue after 10pm; €30 million in funding, modelled on public subsidies for film producers; and a reduction in venues’ tax burden via a reduction in value-added tax (VAT).

On the final point, Möller notes that “many businesses in Germany have the 7% rate of VAT, including [collection society] GEMA. We found out in 2015 that live venues have an average sales volume of 106%, so they earn 6% profit. With VAT at 7%, the venues are paying money to work! It needs to change.”

Möller says an increase in, and easier access to, public funding is essential if Germany’s small venues are to survive. “Right now, it’s hardly possible for [them] to exist,” he comments, “and in many places the people working there are volunteers…

“Governments shouldn’t only fund with ‘high’ culture – pop culture matters, too!”

 


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€8.2m for music in Germany

The German government has approved €8.2 million in new funding for pop, rock and jazz music.

The figure – part of the €660m recently earmarked for cultural projects from 2017 – will be divided among Initiative Musik, the Live Musik Kommission (LiveKomm), the German Rock Music Association (Deutsche Rockmusik Stiftung), Musicboard Berlin and showcase festivals Reeperbahn, Pop-Kultur, c/o pop and jazzahead!, all of which will see an increase in funding, with export office Initiative Musik’s budget nearly doubled.

LiveKomm chairman Karsten Schölermann says his organisation’s share of the money will go partially towards its programme of modernising, or ‘digitising’, the audio, lighting and production equipment in smaller venues across Germany. He comments: “We can now continue to provide a better and more effective approach for performers of contemporary music.”

“The strengthening of culture is, above all, an investment in the future of our country”

Rüdiger Kruse (pictured), a culture spokesman for the German parliament (Bundestag)’s budget committee, says the decision demonstrates the government’s “high regard for culture in Germany”.

“In addition to the preservation of [our] cultural treasures, the strengthening of culture is above all an investment in the future of our country,” he comments. “We can see what happens when cultural education is neglected and art is given too little space in our society. We have to counter this in Germany.”

Holger Maack, of the Deutsche Rockmusik Stiftung, adds he is “delighted that [the association], with federal subsidies, will be able to create new rehearsal studios throughout Germany and counter the ever-increasing lack of practice space.”

 


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