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German gov pledges €80m for festivals and concerts

The German federal government has committed €80 million to organisers of music concerts and festivals from its €1bn Restart Culture programme.

The 12-month Neustart Kultur (‘Restart Culture’) stimulus package includes a total of €150m earmarked for music, with this initial €80m dedicated to events from October 2020 to the end of August 2021. 

The funding is the latest piece of good news for German concert professionals, coming after reports that Germany is likely to extend its coronavirus furlough scheme to 24 months – a proposal that has the backing of the chancellor, Angela Merkel.

This is the result of the negotiations that have been ongoing since the beginning of July between the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) and the Ministry of State for Culture and the Media.

“While the funding programme is far from being sufficient to fill the financial holes that the organisers have incurred in the last six months, and which unfortunately will only increase in the coming months, it will at least ensure a certain basic guarantee of the industry’s ongoing attempts to get back to normal,” says Jens Michow, president of the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV).

“This will at least ensure a certain basic guarantee of the industry’s ongoing attempts to get back to normal”

For events from October 2020 to the end of August 2021, the current programme provides organisers with funding of between €75,000 and €800,000 of future event costs. Festival organisers can receive up to €250,000.

The maximum amount depends on the average number of events and visitors in the years 2017–2019, as well as the average turnover from cultural events within Germany.

Artist management and agents have so far not benefitted from the funding programme, despite being explicitly mentioned as recipients of aid in the Restart Culture programme. Applications will open on 7 September and will be processed through Initiative Musik, the German funding and export office for musicians and music companies.

The Restart Culture package recently announced €27m for small and medium-sized stages, based on the capacity of the space. Complementary funding with other federal funding programs is possible. Applications open on 27 August.

Currently, major events in Germany are banned until the start of November unless organisers can prove that social distancing measures and hygiene protocol can be met.

 


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Cancellations sweep Australia’s festival season

A number of Australia’s major music events have been cancelled due to ongoing coronavirus concerns, putting a question mark over the country’s imminent festival season.

Australia’s largest free music festival, St Kilda Festival, is the most recent event to be cancelled amid uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

The Melbourne-based event, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and is one of Australia’s oldest festivals, was scheduled to take place in February 2021.

However, Victoria’s capital city has been in lockdown for over a month and the state remains Australia’s biggest concern with 7,274 active cases. Melbourne is under the strictest measures including a night-curfew which was imposed on 3 August.

“We know this will bring disappointment to those who support the St Kilda Festival year on year and we too feel that sadness,” says a statement on the festival’s Facebook.

“Our thoughts are with those in the arts and events industries who work tirelessly to deliver the events we love and continue to feel the strain and devastation of cancelled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Elsewhere in the country, New South Wales festival Strawberry Fields has also called off. The Tocumwal event, which was due to take place in late November, has been postponed until next year.

Festival director Tara Medina said she felt it “inappropriate” to consider bringing thousands of people to NSW from primarily Melbourne and Sydney.

“We want to respect the space, health and wellbeing of the Berrigan Shire as well as the time of local emergency services who are already so busy fighting the pandemic day-to-day.

“Ultimately, in the current environment, even the best-laid plans can come unstuck”

“Normally our event is announced, and tickets sold out by this time of year. We really waited until the eleventh hour to see if we could work something out – even with a drastically reduced capacity – but we have to come to terms with the reality that it will not be possible until 2021.”

Earlier this month, Loch Hart Music Festival in Victoria was also cancelled – a decision that festival director Jayden Bath said was “heartwrenching”.

“Given the current state of things in Victoria this is unlikely to come as a shock, however, it is still an extremely difficult decision to make. Ultimately, in the current environment, even the best-laid plans can come unstuck. We can only run a festival that we truly believe in and that pays homage to the culture and community that has been built at Loch Hart 2018 and 2019,” says Bath.

Among the other Australian festivals that have been forced to cancel are: Victoria’s Queenscliff music festival, originally scheduled to take place this November; national dance and hip-hop festival Listen Out, originally due in the early autumn; and Queensland’s Caloundra Music Festival, originally planned for October.

Elsewhere in the country, the western states have been preparing for Phase 5, which could see the removal of the 50 per cent capacity for major venues and the two-square-metre rule, and a number of guidelines have been released in order to prepare the region for its return to live.

Western Australia is now in its fourth stage of lockdown easing, permitting all events except large scale, multi-stage music festivals. Unseated performances are allowed to take place at music venues and concert halls, with gathering limits only determined by the state’s two-square-metre-per-person rule. For the state’s biggest venues, however, a 50% capacity rule currently applies.

The state began its return to live with the first “post-restrictions” stadium concert, which took place in mid-July, with local musicians Crooked Colours, ShockOne, Slumberjack and Tina Says performing to over 2,000 fans as part of the WA Unlocked event at the HBF Stadium in Perth.

 


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