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Unsung Heroes 2020: Sandra Beckmann & Tom Koperek

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Sandra Beckmann and Tom Koperek, who conceived the #AlarmstufeRot (#RedAlert) campaign in Germany, and follow Just a Bunch of Roadies’ Charlie Hernandez.


As a single mother of three children, Sandra Beckmann embodies the mantra that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. A 25-year veteran of the live entertainment industry, she began her career as a freelance technician for light and video installations, but over the years developed a specialist network dedicated to providing all kinds of services to run events and stage shows.

At the end of 2019, she launched service agency Event-Kombinat, for which the future was looking bright until the coronavirus took its hold and she realised that without live events, the industry would face a wave of insolvencies.

Beckmann took it upon herself to raise awareness of the plight of those working behind the scenes and began banging on the doors of politicians to highlight the situation, which helped her gain access to some of the earliest high-level coronavirus crisis meetings in Berlin.

Aside from her lobbying activities, her social media campaign drew together more than 3,500 members across all parts of the live entertainment business for the Initiative für die Veranstaltungswirtschaft (Initiative for the Event Industry.) However, when the design of the first support programmes did not meet the needs of those working in this business, she decided to revise her strategy.

Beckmann teamed up with Tom Koperek from LK AG to work on the Night of Light campaign, which won nationwide attention on the night of 22 June when more than 8,000 buildings in over 1,000 cities were simultaneously illuminated red as a flaming memorial in reference to the terrible situation in the event industry.

The project’s mission was to force dialogue between industry representatives and political players to underline the dire circumstances of the live events business and establish tailor- made support measures for the industry.

In fact, the Night of Light was more than just a media success. Companies all over the world have joined the campaign and the idea has helped businesses and individuals internationally in their battles to win government aid and support.

Companies all over the world have joined the campaign, and the idea has helped businesses and individuals internationally in their battles to win government aid

Ironically, in Germany, its organisers say that the concept was perceived as a nice ambient lighting event, and that politically, it moved nothing. “Instead it caused the alliance of #AlarmstufeRot to be born,” says Beckmann.

On 5 August, demonstrations took place simultaneously in front of the houses of provincial governments in several federal states, and every Wednesday at 12.05pm, demonstrations under the banner of #AlarmstufeRot (#RedAlert) took place nationwide, leading up to the first major demonstration in Berlin on 9 September, where around 15,000 protesters took part in a march, as well as about 500 vehicles on the car route.

This demonstration finally achieved one of its main mission targets, as the first serious dialogue with various governmental officials quickly followed and Beckmann even had a meeting with Olaf Scholz, the minister of finance, which paved the way for a dedicated rescue summit.

“I am so proud of this movement, its joint efforts and achievements, but above all of my ‘job family,’ which has once again shown that we as an industry are capable of great things,” Beckmann adds.

For his part, Koperek says, “At the beginning of the corona crisis it almost seemed to me that politicians apparently have never even heard of the term ‘live events industry.’” However, thanks to the work of everyone involved in the Red Alert alliance, he reveals, “We now have a community of almost 50,000 followers on Facebook and almost 40,000 followers on Instagram. This makes the alliance #AlarmstufeRot the largest group to advocate for the various segments of the live entertainment industry in Germany.”

But the battle is ongoing. Rather than running his own business enterprises, Koperek says he now spends 80% of his time working for Alarmstufe Rot. He pays tribute to LK business partner Sven Robusch, and adds that, “A small core team are working tirelessly and intensively on all corporate issues.” He ends by saying, “We can’t stand by and watch the world’s hottest industry hit the wall. We must not give up. There will be a life with events, even after corona!”

 


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Spain’s music sector suffers €1bn loss in 2020

Spain’s music sector lost €1 billion in direct revenue and €7 bn in indirect revenue during 2020, according to data from the federation of music in Spain, Es Música.

The data takes into account both live music, recorded music and exploitation of intellectual property rights, and includes the entire value chain, companies and professionals from other sectors that indirectly participate in the Spanish music industry.

Last year, Spanish Association of Music Promoters (APM) reported that around 25,000 concerts were cancelled last year in Spain, causing a total loss of €120 million for concert halls, which prompted numerous protests and demonstrations including ‘The Last Concert‘ and #alertaroja (pictured).

The news comes as Live DMA – which represents more than 3,000 live music venues, clubs, and festivals from 17 European countries – releases a new report, 2021 – Stay Alive, which criticises the amount of support the live music industry has received throughout the crisis.

“The governmental support and compensations are not sufficient or adequate to secure the live music sector’s survival during its shutdown,” the report reads.

“Saving live will cost less for govts and do less harm to society, than first destroying the sector and rebuilding it later”

“Governments must give adequate support through all means possible in order to compensate for the loss in income, skills and diversity the live music sector suffers from and save this crucial cultural, social and economic sector. These support mechanisms must be effective now and provide a long-term perspective as well.”

The report found that audience restrictions and limited support from governments were the two main reasons for the financial problems of live music venues and clubs.

Ninety per cent of Live DMA members state that the support from governments is not sufficient to compensate the financial damage related to the pandemic and they do not foresee any improvements in 2021 if governments do not change their position.

The umbrella association recommends that if governments enforce restrictions that cause direct loss of income for live music organisers, they should ‘simultaneously and/or immediately (announce the plan and process to) compensate the financial losses to the venues that are affected by these government policies’.

“Saving existing live music organisations such as venues, clubs and festivals will cost less for governments and do less harm to society, than first destroying the sector and rebuilding it later,” the report says.

Read 2021 – Stay Alive in full here.


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Catalonia rolls out €8.4m aid package for culture sector

The Catalonian government has announced its first support package for the culture sector, totalling €8.4 million, to benefit companies, performers and live event technicians.

The package contains two lines of subsidies; the first will offer compensation for the operating costs of companies and cultural organisations affected by the pandemic.

While the second will compensate Catalonian artists who were hired for concerts or festivals, inside or outside the autonomous community, but ultimately could not perform due to cancellations.

The maximum amount of the grant is established based on 40% of the fee for each cancelled concert or show that was planned within the framework of a music festival.

The government has also established a €3.6m aid for professionals and technicians in the live events sector who have been affected by the crisis and “could not benefit from the general coverage of the unemployment system due to the peculiarities of their profession, characterized especially by intermittence”.

Those who have had an income of up to €18,555 between January and September will be eligible for a €750 grant until 31 January.

“The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government”

The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government,” says prime minister Pedro Sánchez. “We expand the protection of your workers with new measures that will help alleviate the serious consequences of Covid-19. We will continue to defend culture, now more necessary than ever.”

The news comes after months of campaigning, which saw the Spanish production sector take to the streets for national and global #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests, as well as benefit events such as Live Nation Spain’s ‘Crew Nation Presents…’ which raised more than €150,000 for touring crew and staff.

Elsewhere in Spain’s live music sector, struggling venues are preparing for a livestream event dubbed ‘The Last Concert?’ to highlight the severity of the situation facing the country’s cultural facilities, due to ‘lack of action and political will’ from the government.

At least 15 music venues have permanently closed already, according to AP Musicales.

Spain is currently operating under a six-month state of emergency, declared last week by the government, which is set to remain in force until 9 May 2021 with periodic reviews.

The decree will allow Spain’s regional governments to order an overnight curfew to run from 11 pm to 6 am, or to begin and finish an hour earlier or later.

Promoters including Live Nation Spain, Doctor Music, Madness Live and Producciones Animadas have commented on the new wave of measures for IQ.

 


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#WeMakeEvents: Global Action Day kicks off

The #WeMakeEvents Global Action Day kicked off in the southern hemisphere earlier today as venues in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were illuminated in red to highlight the urgent support needed for the events sector.

Thousands of venues and places of work across the globe will #LightInRed from 8pm local time in a bid to draw media attention and government support for the industry, which is struggling to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

The #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest first launched in the UK in August and has since been adopted internationally, inspiring similar protests in France, the US, the NetherlandsGermanyBelgium and Spain.

Global Action Day will bring together around 20 countries, each campaigning for different resolutions from their respective governments.

While international lighting company Bandit Lites is lobbying for the Restart Act to be part of the next relief bill, Norway’s National Theatre has called for an extension in the compensation scheme, however, all nations will be united today under the red banner with the hope to progress the sector’s crisis.

“We mark the danger the industry is in after the government’s decision to end the compensation scheme for self-employed,” Norway’s National Theatre said in an Instagram post.

“The scheme introduced in April has so far hit well and ensured that independent art and cultural workers have survived the corona crisis until now. If the government does not turn in the decision, large parts of the industry will be eradicated.”

“The Restart Act as part of the next relief bill is the only thing that will save all of the live events industry. No other act will save us all,” Bandit Lites said in an Instagram post.

“We need [the government] to offer financial support to the crews that actually make it all possible”

Emily Eavis, co-organiser of the UK’s Glastonbury festival says: “We need the government to recognise what the performing arts bring to the fabric of this country, and how much it adds to the well-being of so many.”

“We need them to offer financial support not just to the venues and organisations that put together these performances, but also to the crews that actually make it all possible.”

Coldplay are among the many international artists who have backed the campaign, adding: “Emily Eavis said it perfectly. The live music and events industry has been devastated. We urge the UK government to support all crew and staff who have lost their livelihoods.”

While Radiohead said: “What we do on stage is only part of the equation of putting on a good show. Our crew are at the heart of making it happen for all of us, band and audience alike. They’re incredible and that’s why we’re supporting #WeMakeEvents and invite you to do so as well, if possible.”

Yesterday, the UK held a second, silent and socially distanced, protest under the banner Stand As One, in Parliament Square.

It was also announced yesterday that a number of UK industry professionals are planning to cycle over 1,500 km as part of a charity event dubbed The Survival Tour, organised in support of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

Five professionals from Loud Sound and Proper Productions will cycle from Newcastle to London via over 50 UK venues and festival sites to symbolise what would have been the start of touring season.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup, which supports people who have worked in the entertainment technology industry for at least five years.

Elsewhere, following Spain’s #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert (Alerta Roja) protest last week, the campaigning group 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.

More highlights from the Global Action Day to follow.

 


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Please don’t let us down, Prime Minister

Dear Boris,

I’m a director of Britannia Row Productions, an audio supply company.

During the past 40 years, we have been privileged to have provided equipment and technicians to many major concert artists, including Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, the Cure, Depeche Mode, Robbie Williams, Simply Red, Mumford and Sons and Harry Styles, and live events such as Her Majesty’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, Live 8, the Barcelona and London Olympics, the Rugby World Cup and the FA Cup finals.

We currently employ around 70 staff and 100 freelance people, with most of our staff currently on furlough.

As well as providing the most state-of-the-art equipment, we supply audio engineers and technicians, and over the years both our company and many of our people have gained an international reputation for excellence in our field.

I, like most of my colleagues who provide these services, prefer to be in the background and have never sought or received assistance from government in the past, but the current crisis in our industry has compelled me to step forward and make a direct and public plea for you to help the hundreds of thousands of people who work in our industry.

Please don’t lay waste to an industry that brings enormous enjoyment to simply being alive

Boris, when you and your colleagues go to a concert, you expect a visual and audio experience to enhance the performance of your favourite performer, but perhaps don’t give much thought as to how all of these amazing visuals and stirring sounds are achieved. Quite rightly, you simply enjoy the moment.

Well, the reality is that behind the scenes, hundreds of people will have made that show possible. The artists, and their managers and production crew, have worked for months with lighting video and audio designers to produce shows that will thrill their fans and ensure concert spend is boosting the economy.

Promoters have been appointed to provide the venues to accommodate these performances.

Service companies have been chosen to provide the production expertise, the equipment, technicians, stagehands, security, catering, etc., etc., to make these events happen safely and seamlessly, every night, and on time.

The skills involved don’t just happen; they take years of training and experience to acquire.

British technicians are famed throughout the world. These skills will be lost if people leave our industry in desperation

British technicians are famed throughout the world. These skills will be lost if people leave our industry in desperation as they seek other work in order to feed themselves and their families.

I often hear you and your colleagues talk of the ‘hard-working’ people in the UK. Well, the people in my industry do work hard and are essential to a sector which contributes literally billions to our economy.

Please, don’t let them down – support them until we can find a way to bring back our live concerts and events. We don’t live by bread alone, as the old saying goes.

Please don’t lay waste to an industry that brings enormous enjoyment to simply being alive.

Bryan Grant

 


Bryan Grant is co-founder and director of Britannia Row Productions.

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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UK industry pros plan #WeMakeEvents charity cycle

A number of UK industry professionals are planning to cycle over 1,500 km as part of a charity event dubbed The Survival Tour, organised in support of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

Five professionals from Loud Sound and Proper Productions will cycle from Newcastle to London via over 50 UK venues and festival sites to symbolise what would have been the start of touring season.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup, which supports people who have worked in the entertainment technology industry for at least five years.

The ride will commence in Newcastle on 3 October and take place over two weeks, concluding on 18 October in London.

The route is split up into daily stages ranging from 60km to 100km and cyclists will stop off at each venue to encourage media attention.

The cyclists will be followed by a tour bus, sponsored by Crossland, which the team will sleep in each night.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup

The general public has been invited to ride with the professionals or join them at a venue or the finishing line.

Donations can be made here. Over £4,000 has been raised so far.

The #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests launched in the UK in August in a bid to draw attention to the struggling freelancers who work across the live events and entertainment sector.

Similar demonstrations have taken place in France, the US, the NetherlandsGermanyBelgium and Spain.

Today the UK is gearing up for round two of its campaign, Stand As One; a silent socially distanced protest which will take place in Parliament Square at 12:30 pm.

Tomorrow (30 September), 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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#WeMakeEvents: UK industry gears up for round two

The UK events industry will hold a second #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest tomorrow under the banner Stand As One, in a bid to gain sector-specific support from the government.

Last week, the chancellor announced a new Jobs Support Scheme, designed to support industries that are operating at 30-50% of normal capacity.

However, key figures and organisations pointed out that the events sector is currently operating at 1-5% of normal capacity – rendering the scheme useless to the industry.

The industry is also reckoning with the government’s previous announcement of a new 10 pm curfew, lasting for six months, as part of a slate of new restrictions intended to combat a second wave of Covid-19.

“With the increased restrictions that have been announced, it looks unlikely that we will be able to return to work in a financially viable way within the next six months,” says a spokesperson from #WeMakeEvents, Stand As One.

“This means that the majority of businesses in our sector will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to support their contribution towards employees’ salaries, nor will they be able to contract in the huge self-employed community within the industry.”

According to a new report, the night time economy has already taken a severe blow since the new government curfew was enforced, with over 300 businesses reporting a “catastrophic” drop in trade.

“Feedback from over 300 night time economy businesses on Thursday and Friday night across the country reported a catastrophic drop in trade, showing on average 62% down on previous weeks, believed to be solely due to the implementation of the new restrictions,” says the Night Time Industries Association CEO, Michael Kill.

“It looks unlikely that we will be able to return to work in a financially viable way within the next six months”

“Many business operators reported that customers were unwilling to allow the curfew to limit their evenings, and that many were seeking alternative locations to continue there social experience.

“It is very clear that the systematic closure of businesses at the same time has been counterproductive, culminating in overcrowding on public transport and dispersal routes.

“The sector has been very explicit in its feedback to the government regarding the impact of a 10 pm curfew on the night time economy, but we are yet to see the scientific evidence to substantiate the decision to implement this and we feel the sector has been unfairly targeted.”

The silent, socially distanced protest, Stand As One, will take place tomorrow (29 September) at 12:30 pm in Parliament Square.

It is the second #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest to take place in the UK after the initiative launched in August and similar protests have taken place in France, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

On 30 September, 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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Spain: Catalonia increases concert hall capacities

Following the “red alert” protests which took place across Spain last week, the capacity of cultural spaces in Catalonia has been increased to 70% but will be capped at 1,000 visitors.

The increase from the 50% capacity limit, imposed in the wake of the pandemic, was approved yesterday by the Civil Protection Plan of Catalonia (Procicat).

The news measures will affect Barcelona and 15 municipalities in its metropolitan area, which include venues such as the Gran Teatre del Liceu (2,292), the Auditori ( 2,200), and the Palau de la Música (1,970) – all of which will be impinged by the 1,000-cap limit.

“The maximum number of [guests] leaves us the same as we were”

“That maximum number of spectators leaves us the same as we were. If we cannot put more than 1,000 people in the Liceu, we will stay close to that 50% that we already had,” Valentí Oviedo, general director of the Gran Teatre told El Periodico.

Robert Brufau, head of the Auditori, told El Periodico: “Subscribers have already been warned that it would be difficult to keep the seats that were historically reserved in Room 1. In Room 2, with 586 seats, a greater number of spectators will now be able to enter.”

Last week, some 16,000 live entertainment professionals took to the streets of Spain as part of the increasingly international #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest movement.

Prominent buildings and venues in 28 cities were illuminated red to raise awareness of the state’s perceived lack of support for the sector during the coronavirus crisis.

 


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Spanish protesters declare ‘alerta roja’

The Spanish production sector has become the latest to take to the streets as part of the increasingly international #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest movement.

According to the Spanish Association of Music Promoters (APM), yesterday (17 September) saw some 16,000 live entertainment professionals hold protests – while prominent buildings and venues were illuminated red – in 28 cities to raise awareness of the state’s perceived lack of support for the sector during the coronavirus crisis.

The demonstrations, plans for which were announced earlier this month, follow similar protests in France, the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium and Germany. As in Belgium, the Spanish demonstrators flooded the streets with empty flight cases symbolising widespread unemployment among production crews and staff.

Protesters also called for the creation of a pan-industry working group to build “firm, solid and durable foundations for the sector, which needs laws adapted to its special circumstances and particularities”, reports APM, “allowing all those involved to have legal certainty” about the future.

The Alerta Roja (Red Alert) 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.”

“We, along with everyone who works in the live events sector, are on red alert”

Posting on Twitter, a spokesperson said yesterday had been a historic day for the Spanish live events business.

UK entertainment technology association Plasa, one of the driving forces behind the UK-born #WeMakeEvents campaign, thanked the “global industry community for stepping out of the shadows and calling for further support”.

A statement from the 16,000-capacity WiZink Center in Madrid – normally Spain’s most-visited indoor arena – explained: “Today our facade is lit up red to support the Alerta Roja campaign. Because we, and everyone who works in the live events sector, are on red alert.”


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