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Liverpool’s Eurovision legacy

As the final sequins are swept up and the outfits packed away, we’re reflecting on a whirlwind week for our venue and city.

It was an honour to be chosen to host Eurovision ’23 on behalf of Ukraine, and in the same year as we celebrate our 15th anniversary. From the moment Liverpool was announced as the host city, we knew this would be an event like no other and would require a massive effort from our teams, in a very short timescale. But delivering fantastic events is what we do best and we were ready to rise to the challenge.

It was a huge collaboration between our teams and service partners, working closely with the BBC; EBU; Culture Liverpool; Combined Authority; DCMS and Merseyside Police.

The event utilised the whole campus, with the live shows taking place in the arena, the convention centre hosting the delegation bubble and dressing rooms, and crew catering, media centre and hospitality in the exhibition centre. The event build was extensive, with the BBC taking tenancy from 27 March and technical rehearsals starting in April.

There were 12 shows in total, nine of which were open to the public. The staging for the live shows involved more than 600 rigging points, 140 tons of steel ground support structure, and 1KM of additional steel truss work. It featured eight miles of cabling for lighting, sound, video and SFX, over 2,000 specialist lighting fixtures, 200 custom staging decks, 950sqm of staging for the main stage, and 500sqm of staging for the green room.

The grand final smashed viewing figures, with a record breaking 180 million tuning in

Outside of the campus, an additional 500,000 visitors flocked to the city during the two-week period to soak up wider events including a Eurovision Village, art commissions at a Eurofestival, glittering open ceremony and numerous community and school engagement programmes.

The grand final smashed viewing figures, with a record breaking 180 million tuning in, making it the most viewed final in Eurovision history. Both audience and client feedback has been outstanding, with the European Broadcasting Union hailing this year’s event as ‘the best production and host city we have ever seen’.

The impact of Eurovision 2023 will become clear in coming months. There are already some key legacy projects emerging, including the development of a Eurovision music legacy fund driven by the Liverpool City Region Music Board, which will support local grassroots artists. We are also engaging with TikTok, who was the official entertainment partner of the contest, to platform the local music scene.

As a UNESCO City of Music, we want to fully embrace the slogan United by Music. Eurovision has been a living, breathing example of the power of live events. For us, it is the culmination of the challenging journey that we, like so many others in our industry, have been on since 2020. From lobbying the government to support the events industry and acknowledge the power of live experiences, to welcoming one of the biggest events in the world to the UK, our industry has achieved so much. It has been a privilege to be at the heart of this phenomenal global event and we are excited for the next chapter of our incredible journey.

 

 


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Liverpool ready to host Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision 2023 host city Liverpool has geared up for tomorrow night’s song contest by holding a week-long series of events in the city.

Featuring free one-off shows, live performances, DJ sets and special guest appearances, dedicated fan zone The Eurovision Village opened at Pier Head last Friday 5 May and is running every day until the 13 May Grand Final.

Tomorrow night’s Grand Final Party at the Pier Head, for which tickets cost £15, is already sold out. Acts will include Steps’  Claire Richards, Vengaboys, Katrina of the UK’s last Eurovision winners Katrina and the Waves and Jedward’s Epic Eurovision Singalong, along with a screening of the contest itself. The final will also be screened live in UK cinemas for the first time in the event’s history.

The competition is taking place on UK soil for the first time since 1998 following Kalush Orchestra’s victory for Ukraine in Turin, Italy last May, after it was concluded that it could not be held in the winning country for safety and security reasons. The UK’s Sam Ryder finished second in last year’s contest at PalaOlimpico in Turin, Italy.

Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena (cap. 11,000) was given the nod ahead of Glasgow’s OVO Hydro to stage the final and semi-finals after the seven-strong UK shortlist was cut to two. Liverpool was chosen following a bid process that examined facilities at the venue, the ability to accommodate thousands of visiting delegations, crew, fans and journalists, infrastructure, and the cultural offer of the host city in reflecting Ukraine’s win in 2022, amongst other criteria.

“We need to look at a lot of requirements for hosting an event of this size”

“We need to look at a lot of requirements for hosting an event of this size,” Eurovision directing supervisor Martin Österdahl tells the Liverpool Echo. “It’s quite massive [when it comes to logistics] but the soft factors include a city that’s really engaged, enthusiastic, engaged, has the experience and expertise but also the passion to make the most of it and I think Liverpool has that.”

The initial batch of 6,000 tickets for the 2023 event sold out in 36 minutes in March, with around 64,000 tickets for rehearsals and semi-finals also snapped up within an hour. A final batch of tickets released sold out last month.

The UK is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest for a record ninth time having previously stepped in to host the event for other broadcasters in London in 1960 and 1963, in Edinburgh in 1972 and Brighton in 1974. The BBC also staged the Contest following four of their five wins: in London in 1968 and 1977, Harrogate in 1982 and Birmingham in 1998.

“I think Liverpool and the BBC have done a phenomenal job with it,” adds Österdahl. “This is a special edition, it’s completely unique and we’ve never seen a contest like this before and I don’t think anyone is going to miss the message. Walking around Liverpool you see tributes to Ukraine everywhere.

“You have to remember the Eurovision Song Contest has not been in the UK for 25 years and it has changed a lot in that time. When we first moved around and spoke to a lot of different cities, they still didn’t understand but after Liverpool, they will know.

“I think there’s a special shift in the UK. What I’ve seen in the past couple of years, the contest is growing phenomenally, the fan base is growing, the viewers are increasing, and we’re getting more partnerships. Across the board, Eurovision is expanding in the big markets.”

“Through this partnership we’ll be bringing Liverpool’s rich musical heritage and personality, to our global community”

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event, with over 180 million people tuning in across linear and digital channels in 2022. The contest has launched the global careers of artists including Måneskin, Celine Dion, ABBA and Julio Iglesias.

TikTok has been named by the European Broadcasting Union as the Official Entertainment Partner for Eurovision 2023, and will be supporting key busking sites around Liverpool at Holy Corner, Liverpool One, Sugar House Steps and Liverpool Lime Street. The app will be working alongside tourism body VisitLiverpool to provide workshops and support to small businesses, local attractions and emerging artists.

“Through this partnership we’ll be bringing Liverpool’s rich musical heritage and personality, to our global community,” says James Stafford, TikTok’s general manager, marketing & operations UKI & Nordics. “TikTok is where stars get started and that’s true whether you’re an artist, a small business or a TikTok creator.

“We’ll be providing workshops to businesses, museums and local landmarks, working with local creatives and supporting busking spots across the city; so whether you are a visiting for the first time or discovering the Scouse sense of humour in app, let TikTok be your guide to Liverpool!”

“We are delighted to be partnering with The National Lottery again to extend the celebrations to the rest of the UK”

Elsewhere, the Music Venue Trust (MVT) teamed up with The National Lottery to stage the United By Music Tour of Liverpool, which has seen more than 20 gigs at 20 venues during Eurovision week to showcase the city and support grassroots music venues. On Wednesday (10 May), the partnership hosted a stage at The Eurovision Village, featuring artists including Miles Kane and Lightning Seeds, as well as Eurovision 2023 entrants from Italy, Finland, Norway and Azerbaijan.

The National Lottery and the MVT will also be staging live music events in all 17 UK towns and cities that bid to host Eurovision. In total, more than 20 acts will embark on national tours as part of the initiative. Tickets go on sale on Monday 15 May.

“Following the success of the Liverpool Tour, which saw us host a week-long series of music gigs across the city, we are delighted to be partnering with The National Lottery again to extend the celebrations to the rest of the UK,” says MVT CEO Mark Davyd. “Supporting grassroots music venues has never been more important and we’re delighted to be using venues across the country to highlight new and established artists the world will come to know and love.”

Upcoming concerts at M&S Bank Arena, meanwhile, include Pet Shop Boys, Olly Murs, S Club 7, Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

 


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Eurovision 2023 final to be screened in cinemas

The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest will be screened live in UK cinemas this year for the first time in the event’s history.

The 2023 competition is due to take place at the M&S Bank Arena (cap. 11,000) in Liverpool from 9-13 May, on behalf of Ukraine.

Today (March 24), it has been announced that the closing round of Eurovision will be broadcast in 500 cinemas nationwide.

“Fans can bring their usual Eurovision parties from the front room to the cinema, with fancy dress heavily encouraged,” a press release reads.

“Fans can bring their usual Eurovision parties from the front room to the cinema”

“Presented on the big screen and in 5.1 surround sound, the screenings of the Eurovision – Grand Final Live encourage sing-a-longs with all of the 26 acts that will make up this year’s final.”

John Travers of CinemaLive, distributor of the event in cinemas, adds: “We’re delighted to be working with the BBC to bring Eurovision’s Grand Final live into cinemas across the UK for the first time ever!

“We want audiences to enjoy themselves, come along in groups, get your fancy dress on, and come together to enjoy this historic occasion on the big screen!”

All 6,000 tickets for the 2023 event at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena sold out in 36 minutes, with around 64,000 tickets for rehearsals and semi-finals also snapped up within an hour.

 


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Ticketmaster secures partnership with Eurovision

Ticketmaster has unveiled a partnership with the 67th Eurovision Song Contest, set to take place in Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine.

The events at M&S Bank Arena (cap. 11,000) in May will benefit from Ticketmaster’s SafeTix, encrypted mobile tickets built with powerful fraud and counterfeit protection.

Ticketmaster’s SmartQueue technology will also be in place in the UK to provide an ‘enhanced booking experience’ for fans and ensure fair and secure access to tickets.

“Signing such an array of wonderful music events across the continent is a great way to kick off 2023”

In addition to the partnership with Eurovision, the ticketing behemoth has also inked deals with the concert to mark the Coronation of Their Majesties The King and the Queen Consort at Windsor Palace, the BBC 6 Music Festival, Portugal’s North Music Festival and NL Eventservice in the Netherlands.

Ticketmaster Spain will run Portugal’s boutique North Music Festival, with Ticketmaster Netherlands to lead Dutch promoter NL Eventservice’s various festivals including Live on the Beach and Biggest Summer Party.

“Signing such an array of wonderful music events across the continent is a great way to kick off 2023,” says Chris Edmonds, chairman of Ticketmaster International. “Ticketmaster’s technology is well-placed to not only handle the huge demand that prestigious events like Eurovision or the Coronation concert will bring, but also provide a seamless experience for the smaller, and equally important, events as well.”

 


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Liverpool to host Eurovision 2023 for Ukraine

Liverpool has won the race to host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine.

The 2023 competition will take place in the UK following Kalush Orchestra’s victory for Ukraine in Turin, Italy in May, after it was concluded that it could not be held in the winning country for safety and security reasons. The UK’s Sam Ryder finished second in this year’s contest.

Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena was picked ahead of Glasgow’s OVO Hydro to stage the final on Saturday 13 May along with the semi-finals on 9 & 11 May after the seven-strong UK shortlist was cut to two. Liverpool was chosen following a bid process that examined facilities at the venue, the ability to accommodate thousands of visiting delegations, crew, fans and journalists, infrastructure, and the cultural offer of the host city in reflecting Ukraine’s win in 2022, amongst other criteria.

The 11,000-cap venue has previously hosted events such as the MTV EMAs and MOBOs and has upcoming shows by acts such as Westlife, N-Dubz and Rod Stewart.

The BBC, together with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), will organise next year’s Eurovision in consultation with Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA:PBC. Tickets will go on sale for nine shows, including dress rehearsals, in due course.

“The city is synonymous with music and Liverpool Arena exceeds all the requirements needed to stage a global event of this scale”

“Liverpool is the ideal place to host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine,” says Eurvision Song Contest executive supervisor Martin Österdahl. “The city is synonymous with music and Liverpool Arena exceeds all the requirements needed to stage a global event of this scale. We have been very impressed with the passion the city has shown in embracing the contest and their inclusive ideas for placing last year’s winners, Ukraine, front and centre when thousands of fans visit next May.”

The UK will host the Eurovision Song Contest for a record ninth time having previously stepped in to host the event for other broadcasters in London in 1960 and 1963, in Edinburgh in 1972 and Brighton in 1974. The BBC also staged the Contest following four of their five wins: in London in 1968 and 1977, Harrogate in 1982 and Birmingham in 1998.

“It is symbolic that the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Liverpool, a twin city of Odesa,” adds Mykola Chernotytskyi, head of the managing board of UA:PBC. “The organisation of a contest of this level sets super demanding requirements. I am confident that the city recognised as the capital of pop music will meet them in the best way and will deliver the celebration of music that will amaze both delegations and fans of Eurovision.”

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event, with over 180 million people tuning in across linear and digital channels in 2022. The contest has launched the global careers of artists including Måneskin, Celine Dion, ABBA and Julio Iglesias.

 


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Glasgow or Liverpool to host Eurovision 2023

Glasgow or Liverpool will host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest after the seven-strong UK shortlist was cut to two.

The competition will be held at either the former’s 14,300-cap OVO Hydro or the latter’s 11,000-cap M&S Bank Arena next May, with a final decision to be announced “within weeks”.

Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester were also in the running after 20 UK cities expressed an interest when organisers decided 2022 winners Ukraine could not stage the event due to the war. The UK’s Sam Ryder finished second in this year’s contest.

“The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) would like to warmly thank all the seven British cities that put so much effort and enthusiasm into their bids to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine,” says Martin Österdahl, executive supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest. “We very much appreciate their cooperation and the quality and creativity of all the bids received.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is the most complex TV production in the world with very specific logistical requirements to accommodate around 40 delegations and thousands of crew, volunteers, press and fans.

“We’re confident our final two cities are the best placed to meet this challenge and look forward to continuing our discussions to choose the one which will stage the world’s largest music event next May.”

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a very complex event and Liverpool and Glasgow have the strongest overall offer”

The final decision on the host city will be decided by the BBC in conjunction with the European Broadcasting Union.

“Thanks to all seven cities across the UK who have demonstrated the enthusiasm and passion for Eurovision that exists right across the UK,” adds Phil Harrold, the chair of the BBC’s host city selection committee. “We were incredibly impressed by the quality and creativity of all the city bids, in what was a highly competitive field. The Eurovision Song Contest is a very complex event and Liverpool and Glasgow have the strongest overall offer; we will continue our discussions with them to determine the eventual host city.

“We are determined to make the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest one that both reflects the winning position of Ukraine and is also an event that all of the UK can participate in.”

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event, with over 180 million people tuning in across linear and digital channels in 2022. The contest has launched the global careers of artists including Måneskin, Celine Dion, ABBA and Julio Iglesias.

Organisers are also planning to launch the event in Canada and Latin America, as the global expansion of the brand continues.

 


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The Rolling Stones announce European stadium tour

The Rolling Stones have announced a 60th-anniversary tour of Europe, including two dates at AEG’s American Express Presents BST Hyde Park.

The ‘Sixty’ tour will commence on 1 June, visiting stadiums in Munich, Liverpool, Amsterdam, Bern, Milan, London, Brussels, Vienna, Lyon, Paris, Gelsenkirchen and Stockholm.

The 14-date run will see the band performing at the home of Liverpool FC, Anfield, for the Stones’ first Liverpool show in more than 50 years.

The tour will also mark the band’s return to London’s BST Hyde Park for the first time since 2013 when they played two sold-out shows to 130,000 fans.

The rock legends have a storied history with Hyde Park, with their 1969 Stones In the Park show becoming one of the most famous concerts of all time.

“Nobody brings it like the Stones when they’re on home turf in London”

Jim King, CEO of European Festivals at AEG Presents, says: “Whenever Hyde Park is mentioned, it’s impossible not to think of the Rolling Stones.

“Two nights on 25 June and 3 July cap off an incredible lineup for BST Hyde Park 2022 but nobody brings it like the Stones when they’re on home turf in London.”

The London and Liverpool dates are the first UK shows that the Stones have announced since the death of their drummer Charlie Watts last year.

As with their ‘No Filter’ US dates last year, Watts will be replaced by Steve Jordan, a session musician who has played with the band since the 1980s.

Watts, who joined the band in 1963, died of an unspecified illness last August at the age of 80.

See tour dates for the Rolling Stones’ ‘Sixty’ tour below.

JUNE
01 – Wanda Metropolitano Stadium – MADRID, SPAIN
05 – Olympic Stadium – MUNICH, GERMANY
09 – Anfield Stadium – LIVERPOOL, UK
13 – Johan Cruijff ArenA – AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
17 – Wankdorf Stadium – BERN, SWITZERLAND
21 – San Siro Stadium – MILAN, ITALY
25 – American Express Presents BST Hyde Park – LONDON, UK

JULY
03 – American Express Presents BST Hyde Park – LONDON, UK
11 – King Baudouin Stadium – BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
15 – Ernst Happel Stadium – VIENNA, AUSTRIA
19 – Groupama Stadium – LYON, FRANCE
23 – Hippodrome ParisLongchamp – PARIS, FRANCE
27 – Veltins-Arena – GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY
31 – Friends Arena – STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

 


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The Zanzibar Club in Liverpool set to reopen

The Zanzibar Club in Liverpool is reopening this weekend – 15 months after it was announced it was closing for good due to the “climate of uncertainty” caused by the pandemic.

The 300-capacity venue has welcomed acts such as Noel Gallagher, The Coral, The Zutons, Miles Kane, The Libertines and The 1975, but operators made the “heartbreaking decision” to close it down permanently in August 2020.

“The Zanzibar Club has been a true survivor over the past 30 years, but with the current climate of uncertainty and the probability of remaining closed for a year, we have had to make the heartbreaking decision to permanently close our venue,” said director Scott Burgess at the time.

“With very limited time left on our lease and too many years of wear and tear on our building structure puts us in a financially unattainable position to reopen.”

Not only do we want to restore it to its former glory, we want to ensure it has a bright and fruitful future

However, the building is now being given a new lease of life under new management after being taken over by Liverpool-based bar and nightclub operator Pub Invest Group.

“As a business which exists to create great entertainment venues in our home city, it was really important to us to make sure that The Zanzibar Club is back in business,” Francesca Lambrou, general manager of The Zanzibar, tells the Liverpool Echo. “Not only do we want to restore it to its former glory, we want to ensure it has a bright and fruitful future.”

The club will officially reopen tomorrow (6 November) with the unveiling of a plaque to the late former Zanzibar manager Tony Butler, who died in 2018, followed by a night of live music.

 


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UK festival pilot builds hope for reopening

A successful outcome from yesterday’s 5,000-person Sefton Park Pilot in Liverpool will provide a lifeline to the entire UK live music business by proving that festivals can go ahead safely with no social distancing this summer, organiser Melvin Benn has said.

Featuring music from Zuzu, the Lathums and Blossoms, the one-day music festival took place on 2 May as part of the British government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), following two 3,000-person club nights, dubbed The First Dance, held at Liverpool’s Bramley-Moore Dock on 30 April and 1 May. Like all ERP events, there was no requirement to socially distance or wear a face covering at the three pilots, though all ticketholders required a negative Covid-19 test to gain entry.

Festival Republic MD Benn described the model as a “prototype” to reopen the industry after more than a year without any significant live music events. “Will we always need it? I hope not,” he told IQ, “but we’ve learnt a lot and we’re ready to pass it onto the industry.”

For the Sefton Park event, attendees and guests underwent a supervised lateral-flow test (LFT) at a local tennis centre up to 32 hours before the event. Each test was registered directly with the National Health Service (NHS), and results communicated via text and email within 30 minutes, with a negative test result activating each ticket. An additional testing site was positioned directly outside Sefton Park.

Alongside the lateral flow test, attendees were also encouraged to carry out a government PCR test, mailed by post, with a second test completed up to five days after the show. To motivate fans to complete the post-show test, Festival Republic offered a range of festival ticket prizes as an incentive.

Testing for staff, guests and press was overseen by Caroline Giddings and Solo Agency, one of a number of live music businesses to offer its support to the event, which was pulled together in the space of three weeks. (That’s not quite a record, said Benn – the One Love Manchester show with Ariana Grande was organised in even less time – but it was “pretty quick!”.)

“It’s important for the industry … that events like this happen”

In addition to Festival Republic, “there are people working on it from SJM, from DF, from Cream, from Isle of Wight Festival – it’s a bit of an industry effort,” explained DF Concerts’ Geoff Ellis. “It’s important for the industry and for fans that events like this happen to help us get there.”

For Ellis, who described Sefton Park Pilot as a “monumental occasion”, it was “really surreal being here because it feels dreamlike,” he said. “You’re seeing people from the industry and you bump into them and you’re wondering, ‘Wow, is this really happening?’”

Speaking to IQ, Benn related the event in similar terms, saying organisers, fans and artists alike were conscious of participating in a “historic moment” paving the way towards an overdue return to something approaching normality.

Benn is as confident as he was in summer 2020 that rapid testing (now coupled with vaccinations) is the key to unlocking the return of live events. “It’s something I’ve been saying since June last year, and it’s taken a long time for government to listen, but I think they do believe in it now,” he explained. “They did have faith in this [Sefton Park Pilot], and certainly [from conversations with] the scientific teams from government and outside of government that I’ve been working with, the modelling of this seems to suggest to me that it can work.”

“What we are learning is that a festival isn’t going to need to look different to how it did look, or behave different to how it behaved,” pre-coronavirus, he continued. “Putting on a festival, as any festival promoter will tell you, is a series of hurdles, and we’ve all learnt how to jump every single hurdle that’s ever put in front of us. Covid one is another one. We’ll find ways of overcoming.”

The other hurdle at present, of course, is the non-availability of event cancellation insurance, though Benn expects more news on that front in the coming weeks.

“What we are learning is that a festival needn’t look different to how it did”

“The government provided insurance for this event, to give us the backing we needed, and in doing so they demonstrated there’s a need for insurance,” he explained. “There’s a team working very hard to find a way […] out of this, and hopefully by the beginning of June there’ll be something in place.”

As in Barcelona, where a recent pilot arena show demonstrated a lower incidence of Covid-19 than in the city as a whole, Sefton Park Pilot needn’t record zero cases to be considered a success, Benn continued. “It’s not necessarily about no infections,” he said. “The ideal outcome is that there is no greater spread of the virus in Liverpool than there already was. We want to prove you can have these events and it doesn’t present a greater risk to the area than already exists.”

While interim findings from the ERP events will be reported to the prime minister in a matter of weeks, Benn revealed that a second FR-organised outdoor pilot show is in the pipeline. While details are yet to be announced, it will likely be similar in format to Sefton Park Pilot, and “greenfield, for certain”, according to Benn.

Like Sefton Park Pilot, that second pilot event will again mobilise an army of festival staff and music fans in numbers not seen since the summer of 2019. But Benn, like everyone involved with the pilots, is hopeful those events won’t be a one-off.

“There have been a huge amount of people who made the effort to give up their time for this, and they all put an enormous amount of work into it,” he said. “So what we’re learning, we want to tell everybody – because this is for the whole industry.”

 


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Details of UK Events Research Programme revealed

The British government has revealed details of its initial line-up of spring ‘pilot’ events intended to pave the way for the return of large, non-socially distanced audiences to UK venues from June.

As reported last month, the flagship Events Research Programme (ERP) pilot will be 15 May’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium in London, attended by 21,000 people, with events at Liverpool nightclub Circus Club (3,000 people) and three 10km (6.2mi) runs around Hatfield Park in Hertfordshire (3 x 3,000 runners + 3,000 spectators) among the newly announced dates. Additionally, IQ understands another ERP event for music may yet be announced.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the pilot programme will harvest “key scientific data and research into how small and large-scale events could be permitted to safely reopen” in line with the fourth and final stage of prime minister Boris Johnson’s easing of lockdown restrictions, set to come into force from 21 June. Venues participating in the ERP will test specific settings to collect evidence and best practice, with the data informing how event venues “could operate this summer”.

The list of ERP events so far is:

Researchers at the events will explore different approaches towards ventilation, social distancing and rapid testing, while “Covid-status certification” – effectively a health passport proving eventgoers are vaccinated or otherwise Covid-19-negative – will also be trialled during the programme.

The ERP will produce a report for government ministers on its findings by the end of May.

“These pilots are a real beacon of hope as we cautiously emerge from the pandemic”

UK culture minister Oliver Dowden says: “Our sports stars and great performers need us to find ways to get bums back on seats safely. This science-led pilot programme will be the springboard in getting the buzz back of live performance. We’ve supported the sports and arts with unprecedented sums, but it’s now time to make that great British summer of live events a reality.”

Adds health secretary Matt Hancock: “We are all longing to see stadiums full of sporting fans and gigs packed with music lovers, but as we continue the roll-out of our vaccination programme, we must find a way to do so safely. By piloting a range of measures to reduce transmission, we can gather vital scientific evidence to inform our plans for allowing events in the future.

“Thanks to the input of our clinicians and the best science available, we can prepare for the moment where we will be able to gather again in some of our best-loved cultural venues.”

Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association welcomes details of the pilots, “in particular the Circus nightclub pilot in Liverpool with Yousef [Zaher] and his team, who have been advocates of this sector for many years and will work hard to ensure we are represented”.

“It has been enormously tough for the events sector over the past year, but these pilots are a real beacon of hope as we cautiously emerge from the pandemic,” comments business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “This programme will not only provide valuable scientific evidence, but also offer confidence to the industry so we can make the most of the Great British summer and host large-scale events in a way that’s safe for everybody.

Similar pilot events of various sizes are also taking place in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and more.

 


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