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SA supreme court rejects appeal over concert death

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) of South Africa has rejected an appeal by one of the companies held responsible for a scaffolding tower collapse that killed one person at a Linkin Park show in South Africa in 2012.

In 2017, nearly five years after the death of 32-year-old Florentina Popa, Cape Town magistrate Ingrid Arntsen ruled that Vertex Scaffolding, Bothma Signs and Hirt & Carter – which constructed two large scaffolding towers at Cape Town Stadium and hung an advertisement for Lucozade between them – had been negligent and could be “causally linked” to Popa’s death, while Big Concerts, the promoter of the show, was found not to be responsible.

Popa died of blunt-force trauma after the tower fell on her in strong winds before Linkin Park show’s at the 58,309-seat stadium on 7 November 2012.

Arntsen said the companies should have foreseen that even moderate winds could have blown it over. “[W]inds with speeds of up to 15 metres per second were eminently foreseeable in Cape Town, and the towers could have been designed and constructed in such a way as to withstand the winds that were recorded on the day of the concert,” she said at the time.

“There is, in my view, no discernible material error of law … on which a review might be founded”

“It would appear, then, from all the evidence, that while the wind did come up and create problems, there was no real fear on the part of anyone in authority at the concert that the towers would blow over.”

Durban-based Hirt & Carter, which produces billboards and digital advertising, took the inquest’s findings to the Western Cape High Court, which dismissed the appeal, and then to the Supreme Court of appeal, which has upheld the high court’s ruling.

SCA judge Sulet Potterill, with four judges concurring, found that Arntsen “cannot be faulted for concluding that the death of the deceased was brought about by an act or omission that prima facie amounts to or involves an offence on the part of Hirt & Carter”, reports News24.

“It was premised on a finding of negligence on the part of Hirt & Carter. There is, in my view, no discernible material error of law by the magistrate of the kind on which a review might be founded. Indeed, I can find no error at all.”

Hirt & Carter’s appeal argued that the magistrate had erred when she found that it had omitted to supervise and manage the erection of the towers, which it said was the responsibility of a subcontractor (Bothma Signs).

In her judgment, Potterill disagreed, saying Arntsen “was correctly unpersuaded that the subcontracting of Bothma Signs and Vertex, against the facts of the case, could be relied on to exonerate Hirt & Carter.”

A further 19 people were injured in the accident, with 12 requiring hospitalisation.

 


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Bulls-hit on parade

I wrote this column at least 1,000 times in my head over the last eight weeks before putting it down on paper today. When ink did hit paper, I ended up with a very different version to the prior madness, and although it was very poignant it wreaked of an anger so deep with frustration and ugliness that there was no way to contain it in an 800-word essay.

You see, I was fired recently from a major sold-out arena tour that was to start up a week after the pandemic shut us all down. Then unceremoniously terminated – two weeks past the one-year anniversary, to be exact. Seriously, a year into a global pandemic, and then I get fired? Fucking ridiculous. Putting me out with gasoline while on fire is an understatement. And goddamn, I have been spitting piss and vinegar ever since.

Although I have been fired thrice before from other projects over what I would call on paper a successful and respected 35-year career, this was definitely different. Not that the previous times didn’t hurt and or make you question yourself and your abilities eight ways to Sunday, this had the added fear of a never-ending global pandemic attached to it with zero constructive communication from day one by my employers.

However, after checking my head with the help of some dear and trusted peers, the soul-searching melted into a clear and underlying suspicion that you had been employed by some incredibly dysfunctional and most likely heartless people that actually knew very little about large-scale touring and had zero interest in learning from the professionals that they hired to give such guidance. Not that I haven’t always had the classic Hunter S. Thompson quote about the music business in my veins to rationalise such shitty behaviour, but enough is enough. When you sell your brand heavily based on the plight of the working man and woman, the impoverished, the exploited, the systemic violation of human rights across the globe, then maybe it’s time to put down that copy of the ‘Anarchist’s Handbook for Dummies’ for a second and look in your own back yard and find out what your responsibilities are as a corporate employer of a large labour force.

Communication on the task at hand, and to the people you hire, is key here – with any of our touring projects, it’s the framework to getting all parts of the project built when applied successfully. You, sirs, give zero fucks. Add serious dysfunction and animosity within a group and your chances of that success are lowered considerably. Heck, I feel for you, man; everybody has that drunk uncle at the Thanksgiving holiday table, but please don’t pawn your personal problems onto the kids’ table. I’m just trying to have a piece of that apple pie, too, brother.

Contrary to what you are reading here, please note that I hold no ill will towards you. I love your band’s music, I wish you continued success and I cherish you as human beings, as we are all God’s children in the end. But we are professionals here, and we are tired of being exploited by such flippant behaviour. So please pay up and honour the commitment we all made when hired.

You need us to sign an NDA and now a Covid-19 waiver? Sure thing. And let’s use that same pen to sign my employment agreement…

With that said, here is a list of additional lessons learned during my pandemic along, with some tips that might be useful to IQ readers:

And so, I quote:

“It has to start somewhere.
“It has to start sometime,
“What better place than here?
“What better time than now?”

 


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TM Suzi Green launches free workshops ahead of touring return

Tour manager and health and wellbeing specialist Suzi Green has commissioned a series of resilience workshops for the international live music industry as the touring sector begins its transition back into the demands of event production.

The three free sessions, Mindfulness for Touring with Craig Ali, Healthy Boundaries with Laura Ferguson and Sleep & Jet Lag with Matt Kansy, take place on Monday 21 June, Wednesday 14 July and Wednesday 4 August, respectively. The workshops will explore a range of topics, from coping strategies for dealing with ‘heated’ moments in high-pressure situations to how to wind down naturally at the end of an intense day, rate negotiation, managing workload and effective communication, maximising the quality of your sleep and techniques to combat jet lag and shift work.

The workshops were made possible through the Culture Recovery Fund and are designed for freelance touring community, though they are open to all music professionals.

The sessions are presented by The Back Lounge, an online support group for out-of-work touring professionals Green, the founder of Healthy Touring, created during the height of the pandemic.

“We will all need to take our health seriously to survive long periods during busy touring schedules in the future”

A seasoned tour manager, having worked with clients including Placebo, PJ Harvey, Katie Melua and Wolf Alice, Green experienced her own debilitating episode of burn-out and left touring for a decade. “I thought my touring days were over. The industry simply didn’t work for me,” she recalls.

Since retraining in various modalities, she later returned to touring with new skills in wellbeing to the benefit of artists and crew.

“People now have the opportunity to learn how to develop better coping strategies,” says Green. “We will all need to take our health seriously to survive long periods during busy touring schedules in the future.”

To book a place on the free workshops, visit the following links: Mindfulness for Touring, Healthy Boundaries, Sleep & Jet Lag.

 


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Sara slams lack of regulation in South Africa

The South African Roadies Association (Sara) has hit out at the loose regulations governing live events production in South Africa, as it emerged no one has been held responsible for the death of a rigger over two years ago at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100.

Speaking to the Weekly SA Mirror of 4 June, Freddie Nyathela, president of Sara, describes the sector as a “free for all”, blaming the Department of Employment and Labour for dragging its feet on a proposed new framework for the technical events production and production services industry.

Lack of transformation in the industry is ultimately responsible for the death of Siyabonga Ngodze, the 36-year-old who suffered fatal injuries after falling in the set-up for the Mandela 100 event, which featured performances from Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Ed Sheeran.

Though Ngodze’s mother has received compensation from his employer, production company Gearhouse SA, and the Department of Employment and Labour (R39,000 [US$2,900] and R35,000 [$2,600], respectively), Thembekile Ngonze says she has yet to see justice for her “beloved son”.

“I cannot understand why it is taking so long to have someone prosecuted”

“I cannot understand why it is taking so long to have someone prosecuted for the death of my son”, says the 56-year-old.

According to the Weekly SA Mirror, progress in resolving the case has been delayed by successive lockdowns in South Africa. However, a Department of Employment and Labour investigation found that Gearhouse SA had failed to comply with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In addition to the death of Ngodze, the Mandela 100 event, held to celebrate the 100th birthday of the late Nelson Mandela, was also marred by reports of widespread lootings and assaults, blamed by the venue, FNB Stadium, on the lack of police presence.

The concert raised billions of dollars for education, HIV prevention and anti-poverty initiatives in Africa.

 


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We Are Ops, female-led operations firm, launches

We Are Ops, a new female-led event operations, safety and people management business, has launched in the UK.

Created by senior female staff at London-based We Are the Fair, an event production company which has worked on festivals including Field Day, Gala, Kisstory, Camp Wildfire and El Dorado, We Are Ops aims to boost gender diversity in what can still often feel like a “macho industry”, according to We Are Ops director and We Are the Fair head of production Yasmin Galletti.

“Since I started out in the industry 12 years ago, we’ve seen the workforce on site and behind the scenes become more balanced, but it still feels women are working in the shadows, not being given the platform or recognition that they deserve for their work,” Galletti explains.

“I feel proud and blessed to be part of a company that celebrates the female attitude towards event operations”

The We Are Ops team have 150 years of combined experience, with other members including health and safety advisors Sarah Tew and Francesca Boden and operations manager Jan Rankou.

The company offers services including licensing, traffic and security planning, safety management, sustainability consulting, risk assessments, crowd and capacity planning and accessibility and inclusion.

“I feel proud and blessed to be part of a company that celebrates the female attitude towards event operations,” continues Galletti, “especially in the area of health and safety, which is still a very male-led faction of the industry.”

 


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Joe Clegg’s Artclub Live joins Stabal

Live music streaming company Stabal Media Group has hired Joe Clegg, musical director for Ellie Goulding and founder of production company Artclub Live. Artclub will be incorporated into Stabal as a specialist decision led by Clegg, who has been named Stabal’s head of live music.

Artclub Live provides creative, musical and technical production support for artists. Clegg has also worked as musical director for Clean Bandit and Aurora, and served as producer for Mumford and Sons’ Delta world tour.

He explains: “With the return of live music on the horizon, I’m excited to be working with Stabal to create a division focussed on the integration of live music experiences and digital content. With a global network of musical directors and audio engineers, we will be positioned to ensure consistent, high-quality performances on platform and out on the road.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Stabal team to help capture many more high-quality, engaging digital performances on location around the world”

“I have been fortunate to have experienced the euphoria of a live show from the stage, front of house and in an OB truck in the middle of a festival field. Now I’m looking forward to working with the Stabal team to help capture many more high-quality, engaging digital performances on location around the world.”

Since launching in 2018, Stabal has delivered over 100 online shows with artists such as 3 Doors Down, Kid Rock, Lee Brice, Drake White, Chris Tomlin and Bellowhead (with Crosstown Concerts). It has invested in purpose-built studios and dedicated production teams in both the UK and US, operating on a pay-per-view model offering on-demand subscription options for artists.

Steve Odart, CEO of Stabal, comments: “I am thrilled that Joe decided to join forces with us, and I am truly excited about the vision that he brings to the team. His ideas on how to enhance live tours and album launches, stretching beyond the physical constraints of geography and leveraging the power of digital, is clearly the future.”

 


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Fabian Müller to lead D.Live’s D.Production

Dusseldorf’s D.Live has set up an in-house event technology operation, D.Production, under the leadership of experienced venue/production professional and IQ Unsung Hero Fabian Müller.

Müller (pictured) joined D.Live in 2018 and has been technical manager of Mitsubishi Electric Halle (7,500-cap.) and general manager of Castello Düsseldorf (3,300-cap.). Prior to joining D.Live, he spent five years as head of production at the SparkassenPark hockey (and beach-chair concert) venue in Mönchengladbach.

D.Production’s brief will include looking after all production matters for D.Live’s venues, which also include the 54,600-seat Merkur Spiel-Arena and 12,500-capacity ISS Dome, as well as the Alltours Kino open-air cinema.

“With Fabian Müller we have one of the industry’s best experts leading our team”

“With D.Production we are pooling all of our technical know-know so we can take a flexible and fast approach to handling technical matters at any event in Düsseldorf, be it a major sporting event like the Universiade, open-air cinema, or a small conference,” explains Michael Brill, managing director of D.Live.

Daniela Stork, D.Live’s director of booking and ticketing, says: “By centralising, organisers, associations and federations as well as corporate event customers now have a central technical team for their events. Another positive effect is that our know-how is brought to bear at all of our venues based on best practice.”

“With Fabian Müller we have one of the industry’s best experts leading our team, someone who has been around the industry for many years, and is passionate about live entertainment,” adds Brill.

 


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Stagehand #ILoveLive draw raises more than £300k

#ILoveLive, the Stagehand prize draw which aims to raise £1 million for UK crew before Christmas, has raised over £300,000 with just under week to go, organisers have revealed.

The #ILoveLive draw gives fans the chance to win unique memorabilia from artists and live music organisations, such as signed guitars from Nile Rodgers, Liam Gallagher, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton and more; hand-written lyrics by Florence Welch, Robbie Williams and Years & Years; and a rare mask worn by FKA Twigs during her live show.

Fans can choose which artists they want to buy tickets for and can increase their chances of winning by purchasing multiple tickets, which are priced at £5 each. The draw is live on Crowdfunder until 17 December and winners will be chosen on 23 December.

“Money raised from these prize draws will actually save lives and help to safeguard their future”

Newly announced products include memorabilia by Pink Floyd, who are auctioning a new Delicate Sound of Thunder triple vinyl signed by David Gilmour and Nick Mason, and the Cure and Depeche Mode.

Mark Knopfler’s guitar is currently the most wished-for item, with more than £57,000 of a £60,000 target raised with six days to go.

Artist manager and promoter David Stopps, #ILoveLive’s project manager, comments: “When I heard about the tenth suicide among stage crew in late August, I knew I had to do something. Stage crew are not only suffering great financial hardship but most are also experiencing ill mental health.

“Money raised from these prize draws will actually save lives and help to safeguard their future.”

To support the #ILiveLive campaign, which is raising funds for UK crew affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/i-love-live.

 


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Madrid shows raise €150,000 for Crew Nation

Live Nation Spain’s ‘Crew Nation Presents…’ concert series drew to a close on Friday night after having raised more than €150,000 in support of touring crew and staff.

Announced in June, Crew Nation Presents… invited a host of Spanish artists perform at Le Petit Garage, at Madrid venue La Riviera, from mid-July until Friday 25 September, when violinist Ara Milikian and pianist Iván ‘Melón’ Lewis brought the series to end.

Over 7,000 fans saw the 19 concerts, which – in addition to supporting 80 jobs for crew, production and security – raised over €150,000 for Live Nation’s Crew Nation relief fund through a €1 levy on each ticket.

“Live Nation Spain would like to thank everyone who has worked with us to make these shows possible during these unprecedented times,” says the promoter, including “the authorities who have worked with us to keep everyone safe and offer a #culturasegura [#safeculture]” and “the great team who have worked to make these shows as amazing as they have been”.

Organisers also thank “all the artists – 84, Ara Malikian, Belako, Bely Basarte, El Kanka, Fuel Fandango, Guitarricadelafuente, ISEO, IZAL, María Peláe, Miss Caffeina, Mr Kilombo, Muchachito, Pol Granch, Rayden, Triángulo de Amor Bizarro, Tu Otra Bonita, Varry Brava and Xoel López – who have trusted in this initiative, and, finally, all the fans who behaved in an exemplary manner at each and every one of the concerts.”

 


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Hungry for culture: Portugal union stages shows for food

União Audiovisual (Audiovisual Union), an association providing support to Portuguese crew during the coronavirus crisis, is staging a series of concerts to help raise money for food packages for out-of-work live professionals.

The union, formed in the early days of the crisis, delivers food parcels to “audiovisual workers”, including artists, show producers and stage managers, in need. Those needing assistance can apply via a form on the union’s website or the dedicated Facebook group, with food drops available across Portugal, including Lisbon, Oporto, Coimbra, the Algarve and the Azores.

Following a concert by the Legendary Tigerman at Lisbon’s Village Underground in July, the organisation is now staging what is calls its biggest shows to date, organising two days of programming in the city of Évora this week.

The concerts – taking place tonight (24 September) and Saturday (26 September) – feature the Legendary Tigerman, Dead Combo, Duarte and Omiri and are being co-produced with local authorities.

Concert attendees are asked to bring a bag of non-perishable food goods

Tickets are priced at an “affordable” €5, the union tells the Lusa news agency, with all attendees also asked to bring a bag of non-perishable food goods.

Speaking to Lusa, Audiovisual Union’s Manuel Chambel says the organisation’s objective is to “help with food products for professionals in the artistic and audiovisual industries who have seen their work cancelled or postponed”.

“Here in the Alentejo [in south Portugal], we help only one person, but in Lisbon, Oporto, the Algarve and elsewhere, there are many more,” he explains.

With the concerts in Évora, he adds, “we want to do what we do best, which is to produce events that we think are cool” while at the same time “contribute to a noble cause”.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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