Ukraine’s live industry steps up support efforts
The Ukrainian live music industry is stepping up to provide humanitarian, logistical and military support while Russia continues its all-out assault of the country.
The teams behind venues, festivals and promoters in Ukraine are playing an important role in settling refugees, providing meals for troops, preventing the spread of misinformation, collecting essentials and donating funds towards the military.
Faine Misto, a rock and metal festival that typically takes place in August in Ternopil, western Ukraine, is doing a little of everything.
According to Faine Misto’s Veronika Grass, one of the key things the organisers are doing is taking part in the “information war”.
“There’s a lot of fake news about the real situation in Ukraine, so we find false information, send reports and make sure that the world knows the truth,” she tells IQ.
“There’s a lot of fake news, so we find false information, send reports, make sure that the world knows the truth”
The organisers are also staying in contact with foreign bands that have previously performed at the festival, asking them to share truthful information and links to official funds.
In addition, the festival’s website has been completely reformatted to signpost links to funds, contacts of shelters, basic emergency numbers, locations of bomb shelters, medical care and more.
On a practical level, the festival has made a number of donations to the territorial defence including walkie-talkies, raincoats and backpacks.
At the beginning of this week, the festival’s concert agency arm and Ukrainian act Grandma’s Smuzi donated 326,000 hryvnias (€10,000) from ticket sales for the band’s upcoming tour.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the team behind Respublica, a free international art and music festival that typically takes place in Kamianets-Podilskyi, western Ukraine, are turning their efforts towards arming the country’s military.
“We weave nets for the territorial defence and look for ammunition for our guys in the Armed Forces and TRO”
“We weave nets for the territorial defence of the city and look for ammunition for our guys in the Armed Forces and TRO, provide humanitarian aid, and Molotov cocktails. We’re trying to create and accept any support that will help our fighters and migrants,” a spokesperson tells IQ.
The team is also engaged in the settlement of refugees from different cities, including Bakotí and Kamianets-Podílsʹkomu.
Settling refugees has become a major part of the live industry’s support during the war, as more and more Ukrainians migrate.
The UN estimates at least 160,000 people in Ukraine who have fled the war are displaced within their own country, while one million civilians have fled the country altogether.
Kyiv Contemporary Music Days (KCMD), an NGO educational and concert platform for classical contemporary music, has asked its network of artists around Europe if they will host those in need.
“I reached out to our network of artists and asked them if they would host a person in need of asylum”
“On the first day of the war, I reached out to our network of artists and asked them if they would host a person in need of asylum. Artists in Austria, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Turkey and Italy said yes,” Albert Saprykin from KCMD tells IQ.
Alive Art Center (AAC), in Uzhgorod in western Ukraine, is also pitching in to help the displaced.
“We have joined in helping refugees from other regions of Ukraine, since our region is calm compared to those in which hostilities are taking place,” says AAC’s Max Fidosh.
Western Ukraine has become somewhat of a refuge for displaced Ukrainians that are fleeing Kyiv, Kharkiv and beyond. Lviv, which has a train line to Poland and is far from the conflict, has become somewhat of a ‘sanctuary’ for migrants.
A number of music venues in the city have opened their doors to refugees and utilised their resources to help the military.
“Now we are not only doing volunteer work to resettle people in places that are available to us”
The Les Kurbas Theatre, one of Ukraine’s most critically acclaimed theatres, has been transformed into a refugee centre featuring camp beds and a bomb shelter in the basement.
Natalia Rybka-Parhomenko, who normally acts and sings at the venue, now volunteers there, helping to organise, manage and settle.
“We thought about how we could be useful in such an alarming time and decided to make a refugee shelter, because we understood that there would be a great need for people to leave, especially from the east, because it is especially difficult there,” she told Sky News.
“There is a demand, the theatre works as a hostel now. We joke that this is a five-star hotel, because we have a bomb shelter here and people don’t have to go outside the theatre – just go down. We dress people and they have a place to rest and eat.”
Some six miles away, Arena Lviv, a 34,000-capacity stadium in western Ukraine, has opened a coordination centre helping migrants and refugees with resettlement and border crossing.
“The entire staff of Arena Lviv is working tirelessly to provide the highest degree of comfort to all re-settlers and refugees”
“Every hour more and more people come to us from all over the country where the occupiers are destroying their homes,” Olga Manko, head of Arena Lviv, tells IQ.
Alongside the centre, the venue has also tasked its catering team with cooking food for the country’s troops and has already prepared and delivered more than 5,000 dinners to the frontline in five days.
“The entire staff and management of Arena Lviv is working tirelessly, doing everything possible and impossible to provide the highest degree of comfort to all re-settlers and refugees, and as a result became volunteers themselves,” continues Manko.
“We continue to help our citizens and believe in a victory of our country.”
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France to rollback restrictions on live music
France has announced a gradual easing of restrictions on live events, starting from the beginning of February.
In the first rollback, the audience capacity limits for seated events will be lifted from 2 February. Currently, indoor seated events are restricted to 2,000 people and outdoor seated events are restricted to 5,000.
In addition, face masks will no longer be required from 2 February.
From 16 February, standing events will be permitted to take place and nightclubs will be allowed to re-open for the first time since 27 December. Eating and drinking will again be allowed in stadiums, cinemas and public transport.
From 16 February, standing events will be permitted to take place and nightclubs will be allowed to re-open
The easing of restrictions has been justified with the introduction of France’s new vaccine passport on 24 January.
From that date, the current health pass will become a vaccine passport for citizens aged over 16.
This means that only citizens who have received one or two doses (depending on the vaccine) will be permitted to attend leisure activities, restaurants and pubs (except for collective catering), fairs, seminars and trade shows as well as long-distance public transport.
Prime minister Jean Castex said 93% of French adults have received at least one dose, and that the pass could even be suspended if the Covid-19 situation improved dramatically.
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NIVF relaunches emergency fund with expanded purpose
The National Independent Venue Foundation (NIVF) announced the relaunch of its Emergency Relief Fund (ERF) to provide economic relief to independent, music and comedy venues, festivals, and promoters across the US.
The fund was first launched in October 2020 by NIVF’s parent, the National Independent Venue Association, to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 shutdowns on independent venues, as they awaited financial relief from government programmes.
The updated ERF will now cover additional unforeseeable situations beyond the control of recipients, including natural disasters, future pandemics, and the lasting effects of Covid-19.
“These venues and promoters contribute in immeasurable ways to the vibrancy of the nation’s diverse communities and economy,” says Lisa Gedgaudas, co-chair of the NIVF ERF committee and program manager, Cultural Affairs Arts & Venues with the city and county of Denver.
“From pandemics to fire and floods, the new evolution of the ERF program stands in preparation for a stronger recovery”
“While NIVF’s ERF is limited in resources compared to the federal funding we have seen, it is our social responsibility to have this program in place to help represent our independent contributors that are hardest hit and facing severe and catastrophic emergencies beyond their control.
“From pandemics to fire and floods, the new evolution of the ERF program stands in preparation for a stronger recovery in the face of various climate emergencies that may continue to impact independent venues in our communities over time.”
Since its debut, the ERF has awarded US$3,170,000 to entities in 40 states; $2,800,000 to 148 independent venues and $370,000 to 18 independent promoters, using funds sources from thousands of individuals around the country as well as corporate and institutional partners.
Mast-Jägermeister US, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Spotify, Universal Music Group, the Gerald L. Lenndard Foundation, Sony Corporation, Fender Musical Instruments Corp and YouTube Music are among the partners.
More detailed information about the fund, including a link for those that wish to apply or donate, can be found at www.nivferf.org.
Spain rolls out €3 million subsidy for venue operators
The Catalan government yesterday (26 August) announced a new subsidy of €3 million for venue operators in the region.
The fund will help operators mitigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 restrictions implemented during the first half of 2021.
This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators.
In the new round of funding, the maximum limit of aid that operators can receive is increased to €350,000.
In order to be eligible, venue operators must prove a minimum expenditure of €4,000, as well as programming that includes at least 24 paid concerts between 14 March 2019 and 14 March 2020.
This is the second subsidy of its kind and is almost double the initial €1,800,000 aid for venue operators
Grants will vary depending on the capacity of the venue:
- Rooms with a capacity of up to 400 people: 70% of the declared expense.
- Rooms with a capacity between 401 and 1,500 people: 75% of the declared expense.
- Rooms with a capacity of more than 1,500 people: 80% of the declared expense.
The Catalan government has also announced an €800,000 subsidy for the programming of live music events.
The funding, which applies to festivals, concert series and venue operators, can be used for all projects developed from 1 June 2020 that have ended between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.
Festivals and concert series must have included a minimum of four concerts in Catalonia in order to be eligible. Venue operators must have hosted a minimum of 20 concerts with paid admission in order to apply. Applicants may receive up to €45,000.
Events company Humm rebrands after acquisition
As it prepares to open two new venues in Australia, Cedar Mill Group has acquired one of the country’s leading event management companies.
Since it was founded by Iain Morrison in 2001, Humm has been behind a number of major festivals around the country including Beyond the Valley, Good Things Festival, NRL Nation and the Fire Fight Australia benefit concert. Its clients include Live Nation, TEG, Regional Touring, Untitled Group, and the New South Wales government. The firm will be rebranded Humm Events.
“It’s been an amazing ride for the team and the business to date but for Tara and myself it was an opportunity too good to let go,” said Morrison, who will remain at the company with business partner Tara Whitfield. They are joined by Cedar Mill Group’s Kyle McKendry as General Manager. McKendry joined Cedar Mill Group in 2019 after almost two decades at Roche Group.
Morrison added: “We now have the capacity to resource the business how and when we need to. Our ambition is to grow our team and presence further in the Australian/New Zealand markets, continuing a consistent level of industry benchmark outcomes for all of our clients.”
“Our ambition is to grow our team and presence further in the Australian/New Zealand markets”
Cedar Mill Group is building the 30,000-capacity Cedar Mill Lake Macquarie and 22,000 Cedar Mill Hunter Valley, which will both have “multi-million-dollar entertainment and cultural precincts”, according to the company.
Owned by property developers Winarch Capital, Cedar Mills Group says it has “aggressive growth plans”, with an ambition “to become a key player in the events sector,” according to Winarch CEO Paul Lambess.
Humm Events’ services cover event, site and production management; creative concept development; COVID-19, crowd and risk planning; and strategic consulting for event owners. It says feasibility planning is a big growth area.
Music venues in the Netherlands to reopen
Music venues in the Netherlands are permitted to reopen from 5 June, when the country enters step three of the government’s reopening plan.
The cabinet announced on Friday (28 May) that cultural venues such as concert halls are allowed to reopen in step 3, subject to certain conditions including booking in advance, health checks and designated seating.
From 5 June, small concert halls can welcome a maximum of 50 visitors, as long as the venue can cater to the 1.5-metre social distancing rule.
Concert halls with at least 1,000 seats can welcome a maximum of 250 socially distanced visitors per room. This applies to all large indoor and outdoor venues including arenas, open-air theatres and concert halls.
Concert halls that opt to use coronavirus entry passes will be permitted to host as many people as they can accommodate provided they’re seated and socially distanced.
Concert halls with at least 1,000 seats can welcome a maximum of 250 socially distanced visitors per room
The relatively stringent measures come in spite of findings from three months’ worth of pilot events which show that the risk of Covid-19 infection, when following certain hygiene and testing protocols, is about the same as being at home.
The pilot events were conducted by Fieldlab Evenementen, an initiative of the Dutch government and several trade bodies, which concluded that shows may return safely at 100% capacity, even under the Netherlands’ ‘concern’ (zorgelijk) coronavirus risk level.
It looks like that won’t be a possibility for the Netherlands until late summer at the earliest, according to the government’s roadmap.
The fourth step of the reopening plan is planned for 30 June, when events can take place without a designated seating plan – provided social distancing is observed and entry passes are used. Events must also take account of local rules and requirements, such as permits. The government will decide on 22 June whether to implement step 4 as planned.
The final step, step 5, will see the government lift restrictions and remove the entry pass system. However, there’s no specified date for step 5 as the government says it will be determined by the number of infections and hospital admissions.
Shuttered venues in US bolstered by extra $1.25bn
Struggling concert halls in the US will receive additional aid, thanks to a $1.9 billion stimulus package passed by the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday (10 March) and signed into law by President Joe Biden the following day.
The new aid package, known as the American Rescue Package, includes an additional $1.25bn for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), also known as the Save Our Stages Act, which was part of last year’s aid package.
However, a new amendment to the Save Our Stages Act, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, enables venue owners to apply for additional federal help – unlike the original act which prohibited them from applying for both a grant and a loan to protect their employees’ salaries.
“This change can save countless halls from bankruptcy, as the money will help them to last until the available funds are paid”
“This change can save countless halls from bankruptcy, as the money will help them to last until the available funds are paid,” said Dayna Frank, chair of the board of directors of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) and CEO of First Avenue Productions in Minneapolis, in a statement.
Eligible venue operators can now apply for the new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP2) loans that closes on 31 March to help them stay afloat until the Small Business Administration (SBA) has set up the SVOG programme, which has yet to announce a launch date.
Thank you @SenSchumer for helping struggling music venues with the added lifeline in the American Rescue Plan expected to become law tmw. Your amendment can save countless venues from bankruptcy—immediate PPP2 funds will help them hold on until SVOG flows. https://t.co/xhsv244mxz
— NIVA | #SaveOurStages (@nivassoc) March 11, 2021
The $15bn SVOG programme/Save Our Stages Act for theatre operators and small venue owners was passed by US Congress in December 2020, as part of a wider $900bn Covid-19 stimulus package.
Italian venues adopt ‘The Last Concert?’ campaign
Italy’s live music sector is preparing to host ‘The Last Concert?’ (L’ultimo Concerto?), a campaign which was originally launched in Spain last year to highlight the increasingly uncertain future of music venues.
More than 130 Italian venues will live stream performances under the campaign banner on 27 February, a full year since the first venues closed and stages fell silent.
The initiative, promoted by KeepOn Live, Arci and Assomusica in collaboration with Live DMA, launched on social media at the end of last month when Italian venues posted images with the year of foundation and the year 2021 with a question mark to suggest that the crisis may force the permanent closure of these spaces sooner rather than later.
2014 – 2021
“When will the last concert be? Or maybe it has already been?” reads the statement from the campaign group.
“Live clubs and concert halls carry the weight of almost a year of closure on their shoulders. Currently, despite the enormous role that these spaces have in terms of the creation, promotion and dissemination of culture and their indisputable social value, it can be said that they have been almost ignored by the numerous decrees that have followed one another in recent months. Provisions have mentioned cinemas and theatres in terms of entertainment but have not devoted due attention to these realities which risk [music venues] disappearing.”
2007 – 2021
The campaign group has also highlighted urgent requirements to prevent the live sector from permanently closing including economic compensation “proportional to the level of impact that the sector has suffered in these 12 months and in the months to come” as well as institutional recognition equal to that of cinemas and theatres which would entitle it to subsidies and support measures.
‘The Last Concert?’ will be streamed for free at 9 pm CET on www.ultimoconcerto.it featuring performances from Lacuna Coil at Alcatraz in Milan, The Social State and Botanics from Locomotiv in Bologna, Marina Rei from Angelo Mai in Rome, Cosmo from Fabrique in Milan, Bobo Rondelli from Borderline in Pisa and more.
UK industry welcomes u-turn on alcohol ban
Figures from across the UK’s live music business have welcomed a government U-turn on newly introduced restrictions that would have stopped venues selling alcohol without a full meal. The news comes after a week of intense lobbying from the sector, in particular by umbrella organisation LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).
The British government last week announced a ban on selling alcohol without food for establishments in tier 2, one of the three new tier restriction levels being introduced this week. Tier 2 currently comprises around 60% of the population of England.
With alcohol sales typically making a majority of a venue’s income, and hundreds of venues unable to serve a full meal, the legislation was poised to shut down a large swathe of the sector. Today’s news gives many venues and promoters the ability to programme shows in December and January, albeit still in line with current guidelines on social distancing.
The exemption inserted into the legislation applies “where alcohol is being provided to a customer at a cinema, theatre, concert hall or sportsground and the alcohol is ordered by, and served to, a customer who has a ticket for an exhibition of a film, a performance or an event of training or competition at the venue, to consume in the area where the audience is seated to watch the exhibition, performance or event”.
Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, says: “LIVE is delighted that the government has listened to our calls to allow alcohol to be sold at live music venues under the new tier 2 restrictions. This announcement is hugely important for our industry as stopping the sale of alcohol was going to mean that even if venues were technically able to open under tier 2, they wouldn’t have been able to financially.
“This decision represents a significant opportunity to all in the music industry to economically work on events”
“There’s still a long way to go for the live music industry to recover, and the new situation is extremely challenging for those in tier 3, but we’re grateful to all those involved, in the industry and in government, for securing this sensible step.”
Mark Dayvd, CEO at Music Venue Trust, says: “Music Venue Trust and LIVE worked hard with the government to make the case that the consumption of culture and the consumption of food should be treated equally. We are delighted that guidance has been issued that makes it clear that ticketed events at grassroots music venues can go ahead in tier 2 with alcohol on sale. It makes a direct difference to the number of shows that can be delivered and is a significant step forward in the campaign to Revive Live Music and Reopen Every Venue Safely.”
Nathan Clark, board member at the Association of Independent Promoters, adds: “This decision represents a significant opportunity to all in the music industry to economically work on events, and to also utilise any Culture Recovery Funding. It gives a potential lifeline opportunity to both grassroots venues and promoters that simply wouldn’t have been possible without this amendment. A huge step in the right direction for music.”
The new three-tier system will replace the national lockdown that expires on 2 December. Under tier 2 restrictions, concert halls are permitted to open with up to 1,000 people or 50% occupancy, whichever is smaller, in addition to the existing regulation around maintaining social distancing.
Under tier 3 (which reportedly accounts for 41.5% of the population of England) all hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, including indoor entertainment venues. Areas in tier three include vast swathes or the north-east, north-west, Yorkshire and the Humber, the south-west and the East and West Midlands, as well parts of Kent and the south-east – meaning many music venues in the UK will remain closed.