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Paris test concert finally rescheduled

After a series of stops and starts, French live music association Prodiss and Paris hospital AP-HP have finally been given the green light for the Paris test concert.

The clinical trial was initially announced in February and should have taken place in April but the scheme got “stuck on the government side”, with the ministry of culture proving “unreachable” amid the new lockdown measures.

The experiment, dubbed ‘Ambition Live Again’, will now take place on 29 May at the Accor Arena (20,300-cap.) in Paris with DJ Etienne de Crécy and the band Indochine.

The trial will compare the risk of contamination between two randomised groups: an experimental group of 5,000 people will attend the concert and a control group of 2,500 people will not attend the concert.

The trial will compare the risk of contamination between two randomised groups

The concertgoers will be required to take an antigen test a maximum of 72 hours before the concert and a PCR test seven days after the concert, while the control group will take a self-test on the day of the concert.

Once inside, attendees will not socially distance, though everyone will be required to wear a mask.

The scientific team specified that the participants could not be people at risk and must be in an age group between 18-45 years old and live in Ile-de-France. A full list of criteria can be found on the Ambition Live Again website.

The sister pilot in Marseille was also hit by delays and has not yet been rescheduled. As reported in IQ, a thousand people are expected to attend the two shows at the Dôme (cap. 8,500) in Marseille, which will see performances from French hip-hop group Iam.

See IQ‘s extensive timeline of live music pilot projects here and read about them in-depth here.

 


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French pilot concerts hit by delays

As the Netherlands steams ahead with yet another round of clinically monitored pilot concerts, media in France is asking when its test shows, first announced in January but still without dates, will take place.

The concerts were supposed to have kicked off in the second half of March, with French hip-hop group Iam playing two shows at the 8,500-capacity Dôme in Marseille, followed by a sister event with the band Indochine at Paris’s Accor Arena (20,300-cap.) in April. A thousand people are expected to attend the Marseille concerts, with the Paris experiment having a capacity for 5,000.

During a session of the French Senate on 25 March, sénateurs heard from Constance Delaugerre of St Louis Hospital, which is supporting the Paris show, that the concerts are still feasible, despite tightening restrictions in France (which culminated in a third national lockdown from Sunday 4 April). Additionally, on Friday the city of Marseille signed an agreement with Inserm (the National Institute of Health and Medical Research) reaffirming the availability of the Dôme for the planned pilot shows.

The scheme is reportedly still “stuck on the government side”

Last week, Le Parisien reported that the shows would instead take place on 29 April, although that is now looking unlikely with France in a four-week lockdown.

According to RTL, while organisers are keen to to get going (the pilot programme is being coordinated by industry association Prodiss), the scheme is currently “stuck on the government side”, with the ministry of culture proving “unreachable” amid the new lockdown measures.

Since announcing the test concerts, France has seen a number of high-profile festival cancellations, including the likes of Lollapalooza Paris, Les Vieilles Charrues, Hellfest and Les Eurockéennes, with most citing a cap on attendance of 5,000 seated guests as being responsible for the decision not to go ahead.

“[T]he government has hesitated too much since February and the epidemic situation has ignited,” writes RTL’s Jean-Mathieu Pernin. “As a result, these concerts still have not taken place, and the festivals are cancelling one after another.”

 


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Four sentenced over Madonna stage collapse

Four professionals including the former head of operations for Live Nation France have been sentenced, following the collapse of a stage in France in 2009 that killed two people.

Technicians had been setting up the stage at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille for a Madonna concert when the partially-built roof fell in, bringing down a crane.

Charles Criscenzo, a 52-year-old French worker, and Charles Prow, a 23-year-old Briton, were killed while eight other workers sustained injuries in the accident. One of the injured workers took his own life two years later.

Yesterday (17 February), the magistrates of the court of Marseille (south), where the concert was to be held in 2009, convicted four defendants of manslaughter and involuntary damages, and acquitted three other defendants.

Live Nation France was ordered to pay a €150,000 fine, and Tour Concept €50,000

After a decade-long investigation, Jacqueline Bitton, at the time head of the French operations for Live Nation, received the most severe sentence: a suspended two-year prison term and a fine of €20,000.

Tim Norman, head of the British firm Edwin Shirley Group (ESG) which owned the stage, received a suspended two-year term as well as a €15,000 fine.

A manager at a French subcontractor hired by ESG, Tour Concept France, was given a suspended 18-month sentence and a €10,000 fine, while a British foreman hired for the job by ESG got an 18-month suspended sentence.

Live Nation France was ordered to pay a €150,000 fine, and Tour Concept €50,000.

After the concert was cancelled, Madonna said she was “shocked” by what happened and sent her condolences to the families of the victims. She did not appear at the trial.

The 60,000-seater Velodrome is France’s second-biggest sports arena and home to the Olympique de Marseille football club.

 


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French test concerts will admit positive Covid cases

France’s upcoming test concerts will admit participants who tested positive for Covid-19 before the event, according to the French minister for culture, Roselyne Bachelot.

Bachelot yesterday evening (15 January) appeared on French news channel LCI to discuss the upcoming experiments, which are spearheaded by a new working group, and revealed that positive cases “will not be filtered because you have to put yourself in a situation where there will be a mixing”.

A number of similar experiments have taken place across Europe, including Germany’s Restart-19 and Spain’s Primacov, but the tests in France would be the first to allow entry for Covid-positive participants.

According to the culture minister, two tests will take place at The Dome (cap. 8,500), Marseille, in the second half of March with 1,000 spectators who will be “seated with the possibility of getting up”.

“I am very optimistic about festivals and seated shows. For standing shows, it’s more complicated”

Participants will be tested beforehand and will be required to wear masks and use antibacterial gel.

The Marseille concerts will be organised by Béatrice Desgranges of the city’s flagship festival, Marsatac, who is also a member of France’s live music trade body, SMA (Syndicat des musiques contemporaries).

The protocols for the tests have been validated by Inserm (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and the Scientific Council of Professor Delfraissy.

The Paris experiment will take place at the AccorHotels Arena (cap. 20, 300) in April with 5,000 participants, under the guidance of the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, says Bachelot.

“I am very optimistic about festivals and seated shows. For standing shows, it’s more complicated,” the culture minister told LCI.

The minister also revealed that the experiments would be reviewed during an international conference in Marseille on 8 April.

 


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French music sector plans a number of test concerts

The French music sector is planning a number of test concerts for this spring – following in the footsteps of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Spain and Singapore.

A working group for test concerts has been assembled by France’s live music association, Prodiss, steered by Jean-Paul Roland (director of the Eurockéennes festival), Marie Sabot (We Love Green festival), and Armel Campana (Main Square festival).

Roland says the group is hoping to hold a test concert in March in an indoor arena such as Paris’s Zenith (cap. 6, 293), provided they win the support of government.

“We’ve spoken with a lot of people: epidemiologists, laboratories, CNM (National Music Centre – to finance the project), the City of Paris etc. All that is missing is the ministerial decision because it cannot be done without a stamp of approval from the Ministry of Culture, and also probably with approval from the health department and home office,” he says.

“There will be scientific answers in the weeks that follow, but organisationally, we will have the answers the same day, especially on the time and logistics to plan for saliva tests or PCR, for example, at the entrance,” adds Roland.

“That big summer festivals like Hellfest or Eurockéennes can test everyone at the entrance is unlikely, but it can be a complementary solution for spectators who have not done a test. We need to have as many indicators as possible to adapt,” he explains.

“I want to send a message of hope: we must be able to achieve a summer of festivals”

Malika Seguineau, director of Prodiss, says: “To reopen to the public, you have to go through this kind of experimentation, to lead to a festival season and, on the other hand, to establish a schedule for the tours, which depending on their size require three to 24 weeks months preparation.”

Two more test concerts are being planned for February in Marseille, organised by Béatrice Desgranges of the city’s flagship festival, Marsatac, who is also a member of France’s live music trade body, SMA (Syndicat des musiques contemporaries).

The protocols for the tests have been validated by Inserm (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and the Scientific Council of Professor Delfraissy, and a conference to present the results is to take place on 8 April in Marseille.

“We are going to stop being nice,” says Aurélie Hannedouche from SMA. “We have the impression that, in culture, we must give more guarantees than other industries. We are told that we generate queues and that we do not present scientific data: as if shopping centres do not generate queues? And where is the science for the stores where everyone keys the products?”

The various test concerts were mentioned by the minister of culture, Roselyne Bachelot, last Friday (8 January) on radio station franceinfo who said that it was “very important to base decisions on scientific studies”.

Bachelot also said she is “doing everything” to make possible a reopening of cultural places at the beginning of February after prime minister Jean Castex announced that there would currently be “no relaxation” in the closure of museums, cinemas, theatres and music venues, last Thursday (7 January).

“I want to send a message of hope: we must be able to achieve a summer of festivals,” said Bachelot. “I am confident,” she added.

 


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