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Barcelona: Sixth night of protests over jailed rapper

Barcelona has endured a sixth consecutive night of street protests, following the jailing of Catalan rapper, Pablo Hasél.

Hasél was arrested last Tuesday night (16 February) following a 24-hour stand-off in a university with dozens of supporters to avoid a prison sentence.

The artist, who is known for his radical leftist views, was sentenced to nine months in prison in 2018 under a security law known in Spain as the “gag law” for insulting the Spanish monarchy and praising terrorist violence in his music and on his Twitter account.

The rapper’s imprisonment has set off a major debate about free speech in Spain and sparked ongoing protests in Barcelona.

Last night, protestors in dark clothes marched through the city centre to the National Police headquarters and threw objects including rocks, bottles, rubbish and firecrackers at officers.

According to the police, around a thousand protesters took part in last night’s protest and seven arrests were made.

More than 200 artists have signed a petition against his jail term and calling for the ‘gag law’ to be changed.

Government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said that in response to the Hasel case, the government had “expressed its willingness to provide a much more secure framework for freedom of expression” and that the reform was in its early stages.


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Portugal’s culture sector to stage national protest

A number of Portugal’s cultural organisations are organising a national protest to call attention to the government’s perceived lack of action on ‘the devastating consequences of the pandemic’ for people working in the sector.

Culture workers are calling for ‘effective social protection, due to the total or partial loss of their income due to the pandemic,’ adding that they want social protection to ‘be above the poverty line’.

The protest will take place this Friday (30 January), in a format yet to be determined, under the banner ‘On the Street for the Future of Culture’ (‘Na Rua Pelo Futuro da Cultura’).


The demonstration has been organised by a number of organisations including Cooperative Action; the Union of Show Workers, Audiovisual and Musicians (CENA-STE); Plateia – Association of Performing Arts Professionals; the Portuguese Association of Film Directors (APR); the Union of Archaeology Workers (STARQ) and Network – Association of Contemporary Dance Structures.

“We have been brutally suffering for ten months the consequences of job insecurity and the lack of rights and social protection, aggravated by the devastating consequences of the pandemic, which lead us, with no alternative, to economic deprivation, situations of indebtedness and informality,” said Teresa Coutinho of Cooperative Action at an online news conference.

“We’ve been brutally suffering for ten months the consequences of job insecurity and the lack of rights and social protection”

Rui Galveias, head of CENA-STE, added: “It is very important that the Portuguese government understand the strength of culture, because they have not fully understood it. We continue to experience many difficulties in understanding the dimension of these workers and of all the areas they involve.”

According to Amarilis Felizes, of Plateia, the protest is “in response to the non-response” that the organisations received from the ministry of culture at their meeting with officials in December. “We think that being on the street is important to attract attention and we want concrete answers.”

The groups said that they were outraged by the fact that, “as of January 2021, support for those who work as freelancers will be even less and access will be more constrained [with means testing] than those that existed in 2020.”

The demonstration comes as Portugal prepares for a new month-long lockdown, commencing tomorrow (14 January).

Today (13 January), the country has hit the highest number of deaths per day so far (156), the highest number of cases registered in 24 hours (10,556) and the highest daily number of admissions into hospital (197).


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Spanish gov commits to supporting events sector

Following last week’s #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests in Spain, the campaign group (Alerta Roja) has met with the minister for culture and sports to ask for a package of measures to support the country’s struggling production sector.

The meeting, which took place on Monday (28 September), saw minister José Luis Rodríguez Uribes commit to working in coordination with the relevant ministries, public institutions and the sector to find solutions to the crisis.

The minister pledged to review why professionals in the sector have not yet received benefits and subsidies and to establish financial support for the sector based on what it contributes to the economy, for the approval of general state budgets.

“Almost 3 hours of work with Alerta Roja. We have shared diagnoses and we have agreed on solutions and, above all, we have expressed a common will for dialogue and collaboration. Musicians, public performance artists and technicians need our support and solidarity,” says minister of culture and sports, José Luis Rodríguez Uribes.

The minister has also committed to making progressive steps towards the return to live – in accordance with Covid guidelines and recommendations – and designing a specific plan to support the return of popular culture and festivals.

“We have agreed on ways of solving and, above all, we have expressed a common will for dialogue and collaboration”

Today, he will deliver the conclusions from the meeting to the ministry of labour and the ministry of industry and tourism and organise a meeting with both ministries in the coming days.

The Alerta Roja campaign had previously declined a meeting with the minister of culture and sports, noting that: “We need a meeting with all the ministries involved: culture and sports, labour, industry, tourism, economic affairs and the treasury.”

Monday’s meeting was a result of last Thursday’s protest which saw the Spanish production sector take to the streets to demand “firm, solid and durable foundations” for the future of live events in Spain.

According to the Alerta Roja campaign group, around 20,000 people turned out in 26 Spanish cities. Prominent buildings and venues were illuminated red to raise awareness of the state’s perceived lack of support for the sector during the coronavirus crisis.

Today, around 20 countries will light buildings red and, where possible, hold socially-distanced demonstrations under the #WeMakeEvents banner for a global day of action.


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Live music companies back Black Out Tuesday

Live Nation, AEG and all major international booking agencies have declared their solidarity with the African-American community, with widespread planned shutdowns across the business planned for tomorrow. The Black Out Tuesday campaign was launched amid ongoing protests sparked by the death of George Floyd last week.

Using the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, the shuttering is described as chance to “disconnect from work and reconnect with our community.”

Floyd, a black man, died after being arrested and handcuffed by a white police officer in Powderhorn, Minneapolis, on Monday 25 May. Eyewitness video appears to show the officer, Derek Chauvin, with his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd – who had been arrested after a nearby delicatessen reported he had tried to pay with a counterfeit $20 note – lay face down on the ground. Officials say Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes – including for nearly three minutes after he became unresponsive.

Floyd later died in hospital. Chauvin was sacked by the Minneapolis Police Department and is now being charged with both the murder and manslaughter of Floyd.

“We need to stop the racists that are literally killing culture”

The death of Floyd sparked protests in Minneapolis and across the US, well as demonstrations in Canada, Europe, Israel and Japan. In addition to seeking justice for Floyd, many of the protests – which began peacefully but in many cases turned violent – support the wider Black Lives Matter movement, while many of the international demos are also focused on local race-relations issues.

“There are great injustices impacting our brothers and sisters, and we are striving to be part of the solution,” reads a statement from Live Nation. “We need to stop the racists that are literally killing culture. We must take action.”

The company says it has also donated to the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based nonprofit that provides legal support to prisoners who lack effective legal representation, particularly those of colour.

AEG says it, too “stands with communities of color [sic] against bigotry, racism and violence” and “will not stay silent” on the issue.

“Enough is enough. We’ve seen this. We’ve felt this. We will not be silent,” reads a forceful statement from CAA. “The racial injustice and violence suffered within black communities needs to stop. We will stand up, speak up, and stand alongside our CAA family.”

ICM Partners says it “stand[s] in solidarity with the families of George Floyd” and other slain African Americans “Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery”, and WME with its “black colleagues, clients, partners and allies today and every day.”

Also sending messages of support are UTA, which has prepared a list of companies “taking action nationwide to fight for justice”, and Paradigm Talent Agency, which similarly provides links to the campaign for justice for Floyd, as well as several anti-racist resources.



In the recorded music industry, the big three labels – Universal, Warner and Sony Music – have also confirmed their participation in Black Out Tuesday, announcing they will suspend all business operations tomorrow as a statement of solidarity, with some cancelling the scheduled release of all music this week.

The Black Out Tuesday campaign will also be acknowledged by IQ and ILMC, which will suspend all operations for 24 hours.


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Israeli stars perform for 3,000+ at pro-industry rally

At least 3,000 people gathered on Charles Clore beach in Tel Aviv last night (21 May) for a rally-cum-music festival in support of the Israeli music industry.

Initiated by entrepreneurs Inbar and Marius Nacht, the event marked the launch of a ₪3.5 million (US$990,000) fund in aid of the 170,000 music industry professionals out of work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, reports Calcalist. It was permitted by authorities in the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality, as Israeli law allows protests, even under current restrictions on consent.

The event, dubbed ‘Behind the Scenes’, featured performances by popular Israeli artists including Aviv Geffen, Berry Sakharof, Shalom Hanoch, Yishai Levy, Rita, Si Hyman, Hope 6, Dikla, Rona Keenan and Esther Rada.

The English-language Times of Israel put the number of attendees even higher, at 5,000.

“It is exciting to see the thousands who have come here,” Geffen told attendees. “It is a very strange period, but we came here to support our wonderful friends… Over 170,000 people were left without a living overnight, and I’m here for them.”

“We came here to support our wonderful friends”

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, organisers urged guests to comply with ministry of health guidelines on social distancing. Large Xs were marked on the beach to ensure people kept two metres apart on arrival, and participants were requested to wear face masks.

Life is gradually returning to normal in Israel, with schools, retail businesses and places of worship having reopened in recent weeks. However, live entertainment venues remain closed.

Yoni Feingold, chair of the Association of Show and Performing Arts Producers of Israel, emphasised the need for an urgent return to activity for the sector, telling attendees that “without artists, there is no culture in Israel”.

“Culture is food for the soul; it’s national resilience,” he said. “We must help all those who are now in distress, because without culture there is no future.”


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Protests disrupt opening of Chile’s Vina del Mar Festival

The 61st edition of the International Festival of Viña del Mar got underway last night (23 February) to a backdrop of anti-government protests, which caused delays to the opening of the event.

The festival, which is taking place until 28 February at the 15,000-capacity Quinta Vergara park in Viña del Mar, started three and a half hours after schedule due to anti-government protests that congregated around the festival site and the O’Higgins hotel.

The opening act of the festival featuring Chilean hip-hop band Tiro de Gracia and singer Jordan did not take place as planned.

The opening act of the festival featuring Chilean hip-hop band Tiro de Gracia and singer Jordan did not take place as planned

Puerto Rican star Ricky Martin was the first artist to perform on Sunday, displaying his support for the protestors and stating: “May Chile serve as the catalyst for other parts of the world, where our voices are not heard.”

A wave of protests has been taking place across Chile for the past four months, sparked by a public transport fare hike and evolving into wider demonstrations against social inequality, living costs and the country’s constitution.

The protests have caused the cancellation of many major concerts and events, with the Movistar Arena in Chilean capital Santiago closing for almost a month in October.

Other acts performing at the six-day Viña del Mar festival include Ozuna, Ana Gabriel, Maroon 5, Pablo Alborán and Mon Laferte.

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Sum 41 cancel Paris show due to explosion

Canadian rock band Sum 41 cancelled a show in the French capital on Saturday night (18 January) after an “explosive device” was detonated outside the venue they were to appear in.

Saturday night’s show, which was to be held at Les Etoiles (500-cap.) nightclub, formed part of the band’s ‘No Personal Space’ performances, “special shows in tiny clubs”.The band, currently on their Order in Decline world tour, played an arena date in Paris at the 6,800-capacity Zénith on Friday.

According to reports, the band posted the following statement on social media, which was later deleted: “During load in for tonight’s performance in Paris, an explosive device was detonated just outside of the venue door. Band, crew, the fans in line are all safe, there were no injuries.

“Due to the intimate nature of our ‘Personal Space’ performances, we are unable to guarantee the safety of the fans in attendance. We are deeply saddened to announce that tonight’s show has been canceled [sic]. More information to follow.”

“Unfortunately, the Sum 41 show at Les Etoiles is cancelled tonight”

The band later posted a new statement on the Twitter, saying “Unfortunately, the Sum 41 show at Les Etoiles is cancelled tonight. All tickets will be refundable with your tickets, Further details will be posted ASAP.”

The manager of the venue, Vincent Le Gall, told Franceinfo that the explosion was caused by a firecracker thrown by gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protesters. Thousands across France took to the streets last week for a new wave of the protests, which began in November 2018 in response to rising fuel prices.

Sum 41 are playing a second sold-out ‘No Personal Space’ show at the Dome (500-cap.) in North London, before heading to Amsterdam’s Afas Live (6,000-cap.), Dusseldorf’s Mitsubishi Electric Halle (7,500-cap.) and Zenith in Munich (6,000-cap.). Details of dates and ticket prices can be found here.

Photo: Stefan Brending/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)


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Promoters positive despite sales drop in Barcelona

Concert promoters in Barcelona, Spain, have noticed a decrease in ticket sales as the result of protests in the city, sparked by the jailing of nine Catalan politicians and activists two weeks ago.

Promoters including Live Nation and Barcelona-based The Project, as well as venues such as el Palau de la Música and el Gran Teatre del Liceu have seen a decline in sales since 14 October, when the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced the organisers of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum to 9 – 13 years in prison.

“Sales have fallen and we still haven’t recovered the rates that we had before,” Tito Ramoneda, co-founder of The Project and vice president of Spanish Promoters’ Association APMusicales told El Periódico. According to Ramoneda, sales have dropped by around 30% over the past two weeks.

El Palau de la Música, which closed its doors due to difficulties in accessing the venue during the height of the protests, has seen a 69% decrease in concert ticket sales, with organised visits to the building dropping by 5%.

“We have to preserve cultural life,” says el Palau director Joan Oller, echoing a sentiment expressed to IQ by Hong Kong-based promoters in August. “We can’t forget that el Palau maintained its musical offering during the civil war. Beyond the crisis we’re going through, it is always important to keep our link with culture.”

“Sales have fallen and we still haven’t recovered the rates that we had before”

Ticket sales for Live Nation-promoted concerts in Barcelona have also been lower than usual, a source told El Periódico. However, unlike in 2017 – when the Catalan leaders were originally arrested – shows are going ahead as planned.

The Project promoted a Herbie Hancock concert as part of Barcelona Jazz Festival over the weekend and Live Nation has upcoming shows from Daniel Caesar, Royal Republic, Bear’s Den and Vampire Weekend.

Concert and festival promoter Cruilla has noted a “good rate of sales”, selling out shows by a selection of Catalan and Spanish acts including Iseo and Dodosound, Manel, León Benavente, Buhos and Els Catarres.

Primavera Sound, one of the first representatives of the music industry to speak out against the sentencing, states that “more passes than normal” were sold in the week following the sentencing.

Political upheaval has taken its toll on live music across the world in recent months, with protests in leading to the cancellation of the inaugural edition of Rolling Loud Hong Kong and multiple concerts and festivals in Santiago, Chile.


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Concerts axed as unrest builds in Chilean capital

Following the outbreak of anti-government protests, the Chilean government has ordered the cancellation of all “large-scale events”, declaring a state of emergency and imposing a curfew in Santiago and other parts of the country.

The protests began in the capital city of Santiago on Friday (18 October), following a public transport fare hike. Demonstrations later evolved into more general protests over living costs and inequality, spreading to other areas of Chile.

Two performances from celebrity violinist André Rieu at the 17,000-capacity Movistar Arena in Santiago were put on hold following the measures.

“We are deeply sorry for the cancellations and the inconvenience this will cause to those who had bought tickets,” stated local promoter Bizarro Live Entertainment, “but we find ourselves in a situation that is out of our hands.”

Canadian singer Bryan Adams was also due to play at the arena, following shows in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The singer cited “civil unrest” as the reason for the cancellation of today’s (22 October) show.

The one-day Vívela Festival, which was set to take place in Santiago’s Quinta Normal park, was also called off. Colombian band Bomba Estereo, UK electronic group Morcheeba, Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle and Venezuelan duo Mau y Ricky were among acts scheduled to play the festival.

“We are deeply sorry for the cancellations, but we find ourselves in a situation that is out of our hands”

“We are suspending the festival as we received an official statement from the government informing organisers that all large-scale events in the metropolitan area must be cancelled, due to the difficult situation that is going on,” announced festival promoter Street Machine.

Tickets for a show by Argentinian rock band Soda Stereo, due to go on sale today for Banco de Chile customers and on Thursday for the general public, will not be available until further notice, announced Chilean promoter Lotus Producciones.

According to IQ’s International Ticketing Yearbook 2019 (ITY), Chile’s live market has “thrived” in recent years, while South America’s other major touring destinations – Brazil and Argentina – have “faltered”.

“We have our own challenges, but we see the Chilean market as much more stable than the other markets in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Paulo Atienza, CEO of Chile’s leading ticketing company PuntoTicket, told ITY.

Major festivals in the country include Lotus Producciones-promoted Santiago Gets Louder and Lollapalooza Chile. Rock in Rio founder Roberto Medina recently announced that a Chilean edition of the Brazilian mega festival would take place in 2021.


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Live music amplifies XR’s International Rebellion

Artists and DJs including Massive Attack, Declan McKenna, Orbital and Rob da Bank are bringing the noise this month’s climate protests, where a team of music programmers are risking arrest to provide a musical accompaniment to the demonstrations.

The two-week ‘International Rebellion’, organised by pressure group Extinction Rebellion (XR), began on Monday, and sees activists call on governments around the world take urgent action to tackle global warming.

In London – home to one of the largest of the protests, which are also taking place in 59 other cities worldwide – demonstrators have at various times shut down down Whitehall, the Mall, Westminster Bridge, Downing Street, London City Airport and, most recently, the BBC’s New Broadcasting House headquarters.

The London ‘rebellion’ is “decentralised” and divided into 12 zones, an XR spokesperson tells IQ, with entertainment duties on each site overseen by one or more programmer.

“We’ve had a hell of a lot of people that want to perform at all the sites,” says Sam Weatherald, music programmer at Global Justice Rebellion, which is looking for a new home after being evicted from St James’s Park yesterday. “There’s a big [XR] database for everyone who’s interested, because we’ve had so many people saying they want to play.”

” Music is really great to get the message across”

Acts booked by Weatherald, also co-founder of Antenna Collective, for St James’s Park include rapper Dizraeli, reggae band the Majestic and sitarist-cellist Pete Yelding.

Anthony McGinley, aka DJ Absolute, is based in Trafalgar Square, where XR activists secretly set up a large stage for speeches and live performance. Artists who have played or will play in the square include Disclosure, Orbital, Johnny Flynn and Rob da Bank, DJ and founder of Bestival, as well as members of Pumarosa and Mystery Jets.

“Everyone I’ve asked to play has said ‘yes’,” comments McGinley. “It’s a cause I think a lot of musicians are passionate about. And it feels really good for me, personally, to be able to use my skillset and passions to do something to highlight [XR’s activism].”

Elsewhere, Massive Attack played all 12 sites earlier this week, according to the XR spokesperson, by moving around with a sound system in a backpack, while Declan McKenna played a free show on the Mall – the singer-songwriter’s first in a year.

Weatherald says it’s important to make use of music and arts to address social issues, noting that his and other International Rebellion sites are “chocka with heavy political and social issues, talks and workshops, so it’s really important to have the music there. Music is really great to get the message across.”

“It’s beautiful to see everyone coming together”

But it’s not without its challenges, adds McGinley. “The goalposts have obviously been moving a lot with this – there are all these external forces impacting on what we’re trying to do, so there’s been a lot of solving problems that have come up on the night,” he says.

“Seeing all the raids happening is a bit scary, and it can be disheartening when you’ve planned something only to see it get shut down. [At press time, in excess of 1,000 protesters had been arrested.] So there are a lot of mixed emotions, But also some really amazing highlights – it’s beautiful to see everyone coming together.”

The International Rebellion protests follow a busy summer of festival appearances for Extinction Rebellion activists. Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, told IQ last month there were 60% fewer tents left behind at its events this summer as a result of XR’s involvement. “I’ve been asking people for ten years not to leave their tents,” he said. “But the first year I get Extinction Rebellion involved, everyone takes them home!”

Other International Rebellion events are taking place in cities including Paris, Madrid, New York, Hong Kong, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Melbourne.


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