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EAA appoints Rockhal’s Olivier Toth as president

The European Arenas Association (EAA) has named Olivier Toth, CEO Rockhal Luxembourg, as president.

Toth succeeds AEG Europe’s John Langford who is stepping down after completing his two-year tenure.

“I can think of no better person to lead the EAA,” says outgoing president, Langford.

“Since joining the association, Olivier has been working tirelessly on behalf of the members to deliver the association’s goal of strengthening ties with the European Union and boosting the advocacy impact of the EAA at EU level.”

Toth, an EAA board member, is a co-founder of the EAA EU Subgroup which morphed into the Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA) during the Covid-19 pandemic to open dialogue with EU governing bodies.

“I am confident that the EAA and the ARA will work towards building a stronger and more unified European live sector”

“I am honoured to be appointed as the EAA’s next president and look forward to further developing and delivering the EAA’s realigned objectives and to continue to work closely with the EU on arena-related topics,” says Toth.

“Through the ARA, we have seen how arenas play a vital role as the hub of the live events ecosystem and how necessary it is to have a collective voice for our industry. I think we can all agree the world we are returning to is not the same one we left behind and I am confident that the EAA and its ARA subgroup will work towards building a stronger and more unified European live events sector.”

The EAA’s membership comprises 34 arenas in 20 European countries, including the 6,500-capacity Rockhal, based in Esch-sur-Alzette.

According to the association, which was founded in 1991, its member arenas host over 2,900 annual events attracting a total audience of 19 million people.

 


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Road to recovery: A timeline of pilot projects

In August 2020, Germany paved the way for live music pilot projects with Restart-19, an experiment which saw thousands of volunteers to take part in a concert at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena in Leipzig with singer Tim Bendzko.

Since then, similar experiments have popped up across the globe. From Spain to Singapore, test events with as few as 50 participants and as many as 5,000 have taken place to prove to authorities (and the world) that when it comes to safety and security, the live music industry knows what it’s doing.

Below is a timeline of the pilot projects that have taken place since late summer 2020 – all of which have proved, in one way or another, that the live entertainment sector can reopen safely under certain measures – as well as the tests that are on the horizon in 2021.

August 2020

Restart-19
When: 22 August 2020
Where: Quarterback Immobilien Arena, Leipzig, Germany
Who: University Medical Center of Halle
What they said: “[T]he contacts that do occur at an event do not involve all participants. Therefore, events could take place under specific conditions during a pandemic.”
Participants: 1,500

November 2020

Konzerthaus Dortmund (study)
When: 2–3, 20 November 2020
Where: Konzerthaus Dortmund, Germany
Who: Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute Goslar, ParteQ
What they said: “Concert halls and theatres are not places of infection. […] With our study, we want to ensure that concert halls and theatres may again admit sufficient audiences when they reopen.”

December 2020

Primacov
When: 12 December 2020
Where: Apolo, Barcelona, Spain
Who: Primavera Sound, Germans Trias Hospital, the Fight Aids and Infectious Diseases Foundation
What they said: “A live music concert, staged with a series of security measures that included a negative antigen test for Sars- CoV-2 done on the same day, was not associated with an increase in Covid-19 infections.”
Participants: 1,047

Philharmonie de Paris (study)
When: 16 December 2020
Where: Philharmonie de Paris, France
Who: Dassault Systèmes
What they said: “The combination of face masks with a fresh-air supply built into every seat gives the indoor Philharmonie a similar profile to that of an outdoor space, with a very limited risk of spread from one side [of the venue] to the other.”

Back to Live (SG)
When: 18–19 December 2020 Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay, Singapore
Who: AEG Presents, Collective Minds
What they said: “[T]he outcome of such pilots will be critical to our ongoing efforts to allow events of a larger scale to resume in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Participants: 500

February 2021

Because Music Matters
When: 10–14 February
Where: Rockhal, Luxembourg
Who: Rockhal
What they said: “Building confidence among all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important.”
Participants: 100 per night

Back to Live (NL)
When: 15, 20, 21, 28 February & 6, 7, 20, 21 March 2021
Where: The Netherlands
Who: Fieldlab Evenementen
What they said: “We can now show that we can organise events in a very safe way. […] We hope this can lead to a tailor- made reopening of venues.”
Participants: Varies between events

March 2021

Love of Lesbian
When: 27 March 2021
Where: Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona
Who: Festivals per la Cultura Segura
What they said: The event had no impact on Covid-19 transmission among attendees, despite the lack of social distancing observed.
Participants: 5,000

The Berlin Philharmonic
When: 20 March 2021
Where: Chamber Music Hall, Berlin
Who: Pilotprojekt, Berlin department of culture
What they said: ‘Zero infections among the 1,000 people who attended the show is further proof that events can be organised safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.’
Participants: 680

April 2021

Jonathan theatre performance
When: 26 April–9 May 2021
Where: Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS), Belgium
Who: KVS and Belgium’s Ministry of Culture
What they said: “An important observation is that the CO2 value and the relative humidity have barely increased. We saw the figure increase from 500 ppm to 600 ppm, while the maximum permitted value is 1200 ppm. This is of course only a first indication.”
Participants: 50–250

May 2021

Events Research Programme
When: April/May 2021
Where: Sefton Park and Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool, Brit Awards in London, The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and more
Who: Festival Republic, Circus, BPI, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and more
What they said: “These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing. We will be guided by the science and medical experts but will work flat out to make that happen.”
Participants: 300–21,000

TBC 2021

Denmark Trials
When: TBC 2021
Where: Denmark
Who: Dansk Live, Divisionsforeningen
What they said: “This should very much lead to a much-needed festival summer and many great concert experiences across the country in 2021.”

Paris test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Accor Arena, Paris
Who: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Culture, St Louis Hospital, Prodiss
Participants: 5,000

Marseille test
When: TBC 2021
Where: Dôme, Marseille
Who: The city of Marseille, Inserm, Béatrice Desgranges (Marsatac, SMA)
Participants: 1,000

 


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ARA set to reveal manifesto for Europe’s return to live

The Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), the purpose-driven initiative created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), is set to launch a manifesto detailing the essential next steps for a safe return to live music and sport across Europe.

The action plan will be revealed during the industry body’s second conference, ‘A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg‘ in association with IQ, which will be streamed live on Thursday 18 February at 1 pm GMT on the EAA’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The free virtual event will feature contributions from a range of speakers including John Langford (AEG Europe COO and EAA president), Sam Tanson (minister of culture for Luxembourg) and Alex Jäger, (sport director at Champions Hockey League).

The free virtual event will feature contributions from speakers including John Langford, Sam Tanson and Alex Jäger

A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg will also feature a keynote speech and presentation by Sam Tanson, minister of culture for Luxembourg, featuring behind the scenes footage and in-depth analysis from a series of test concerts taking place in Luxembourg at Rockhal arena’s club venue.

Alongside the Rockhal test events presentation and ARA manifesto launch, the event will also feature two panel discussions titled ‘Ready to Rock and Play’ and ‘Working out Way Back To You’ which will explore what support the live events sector needs from policymakers on both a national and EU level to enable long-term resilience and future growth.

Opening addresses will be delivered by Rita Brasil de Brito (chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Portuguese presidency of the council of the EU and Viviane Hoffmann (deputy director general at the European Commission Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture).

ARA’s first virtual conference, A Game of Two Halves, which streamed in December 2020 is available to watch online here.

 


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ARA conference to analyse Rockhal test concerts

The Arena Resilience Alliance (ARA), a newly formed purpose group created by the European Arenas Association (EAA), has announced part two of its virtual conference, A Game of Two Halves, in association with IQ.

A Game of Two Halves: The Return Leg will hear key representatives from EU institutions, national governments, and live event sectors explore how large capacity venues across Europe are preparing for a safe reopening, particularly using test concerts.

The conference will reflect on a series of test concerts taking place in Luxembourg at Rockhal arena’s club venue between 10–14 February.

Taking place under the banner of ‘Because Music Matters’, each event in the five-night series will be limited to 100 people – all of whom will be required to take a Covid-19 test prior to the event and again seven days later, wear a mask throughout the event, and socially distance inside.

The series is hosted in conjunction with the national health inspection authority.

Behind the scenes content and insights from the Rockhal test concerts will be screened as part of the conference, offering an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned and next steps and helping to frame the discussion around what still needs to be done.

“[The Rockhal tests] are an important step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our strategies”

The event will also explore what support the live events sector needs from policymakers on both a national and EU level to enable long-term resilience and future growth.

Olivier Toth, CEO, Rockhal in Luxembourg and co-founder of the ARA says: “Building on the success of our first #AGameofTwoHalves webinar in December, we are proud to return with a second event that will explore how we are working towards the safe return of live music and sport. Our Because Music Matters showcase at Rockhal is an important step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our back to business strategies. I look forward to sharing our experience and insights from these events.”

Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust, owners of The SSE Arena, Belfast and co-founder of the ARA added: “As the advocacy platform for European arenas, the ARA is proud to provide an opportunity for the industry to come together with key EU decision-makers to prepare for a return to live events, whilst working to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities and the sustainability of our industry, which will be central to the economic and societal recovery of countries across Europe.

“Together, we can build regional and national frameworks, with international collaboration that will help us get back to business.”

The free online event will be streamed live on Thursday 18 February via the EAA YouTube channel and Facebook page.

ARA’s first virtual conference in December 2020 is available to watch online here.

 


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47% decrease in new artists touring Europe

The number of new artists touring Europe has fallen by nearly 50% in 2019–20, according to a new report that illustrates the impact of ongoing venue closures on emerging acts.

Research by Liveurope, an EU-backed association of 16 music venues, shows a 47% decrease in new acts touring in Europe compared to 2018–19. According to the organisation, which is calling for more aid at a European level, “the circulation of European artists, in particular emerging ones, can only return to pre-crisis levels if ambitious and targeted EU support is deployed.”

“After months of closure, our venues are faced with substantial economic losses and extended temporary lay-offs,” says Liveurope coordinator Elise Phamgia.“In this context, the safety net that our platform provides to them will be all the more crucial to help them continue bringing the diversity of European music to their audiences.

“After months of closure, our venues are faced with substantial economic losses”

“Scaling up the [funding] envelopes allocated to initiatives like ours would allow us to continue our mission, and support a greater number of music venues across the continent in their efforts to strengthen the European dimension of their line-ups.”

Liveurope members include Brussels arena Ancienne Belgique, Luxembourg’s Rockhal, Melkweg in Amsterdam and London’s Village Underground.

A recent report by the European Commission recommends an increase in the amount of funding for initiatives such as Liveurope in the upcoming EU budget.

 


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Venue leaders optimistic for 2020 reopening

Venue professionals expressed confidence that doors will reopen before the end of the year, but shared doubts as to whether social distancing is the answer, in the latest IQ Focus panel.

Available to watch back now on the IQ website, as well as on Facebook and Youtube, the session saw John Langford (AEG Europe), Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event) reflect on when they will return to business and the tactics that venues will use to ensure the show goes on.

All panellists were optimistic that some shows will return before the end of 2020, although next year will see the true restart of indoor live events, with many speaking of “packed 2021 calendars”.

For Toth, CEO of the 6,500-capacity Rockhal in Luxembourg, smaller capacity shows with strict social distancing measures will be the most likely to restart before the new year. Rockhal’s intimate club venue, which typically has a capacity of 1,100, can hold 90 people with two metre distancing measures in place, but “we can increase capacity as we go”, said Toth.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021,” said Toth.

Rockhal is one of a number of venues in Luxembourg acting as a temporary medical facility.

For GOT Event, which operates nine venues in Sweden, sports fixtures are the most likely to return in 2020, with all matches played behind closed doors. “For music and other shows, I think it’ll be next year,” said Nibell.

Even though Sweden has not entered a full lockdown unlike many of its European counterparts, a ban on shows over 50 people has left the Swedish live industry in much the same position as elsewhere.

“For shows of a bigger scale, I am optimistically hoping for the end of this year, but it is more likely to be 2021”

ASM Global has already seen some success with the return of sporting events, hosting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events behind closed doors at venues in the United States.

Lynch said ASM Global’s VenueShield, a post-coronavirus reopening programme, has played a big part in allowing the sports powerhouse to get back up and running. “Next I’d like to see how, or if, we can introduce fans with social distancing and in a safe and clean environment.”

Social distancing has been a “hot topic” of late for the events industry, said Langford, asking Wizard Promotions’ Hoppe if it is a viable solution for event organisers.

While it may work for some kinds of shows and events, “I don’t think social distancing will be a part of what we will be looking at,” said Hoppe.  Drive-in concerts offer an example of social distancing success, added Hoppe, but “are horrible for an artist in my opinion”.

Noble, artistic and commercial director at London’s (5,272-cap.) Royal Albert Hall and chair of the UK’s National Arenas Association (NAA), agreed that social distancing is not part of the plan for reopening as “it just doesn’t work financially”.

“We do know we can run our venues in world class ways to facilitate shows going on, be it by contact tracing, temperature checks, questionnaires, disinfectant mists etc.”

Noble noted the lack of clarity given to the live industry by the UK government, which is yet to give a date for when events of any size will be permitted again. “If they don’t give us clarity, then we need to give them clarity,” said Noble. “We are suggesting to them how we can operate.”

“I am really positive about the future of live events, but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, if it recurs”

The EAA has also taken up a lobbying position, working with the European Commission to develop a reopening plan for the live industry.

“We’ll be facing very different requirements and expectations from our customers,” said Toth. “Scenarios will be very different, from artist hospitality to audience experience, not even mentioning social distancing, so the ambition was to put major concerns out there and open up the discussion.”

Consumer demand has been another worry for the live industry, with surveys indicating a potential cautiousness on behalf of some about returning to public events. However, Toth pointed out that the majority of fans are holding on to tickets for postponed events, indicating that “people are looking forward to coming back”.

Noble said that the Royal Albert Hall is expecting confidence will take a while to return and is modelling accordingly.

“We certainly won’t be selling to full houses when we reopen,” said Noble. The venue is adjusting its programming to focus on shows that attract younger audiences first, the demographic most likely to make a quick return to events.

“I am really positive about the future of live events,” said Noble, “but we just need to find a way of operating in this situation, and for if it recurs.”

The next IQ Focus session, The Innovation Session, is taking place on Thursday 28 May at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET, chaired by Mike Malak (Paradigm), and featuring speakers Sheri Bryant (Sansar), Tommas Arnby (Locomotion Ent.), Amy Oldham (Dice), Ben Samuels (MelodyVR) and Prajit Gopal (Looped).

Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.

 


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Venues in the spotlight for next IQ Focus panel

Following on from last week’s popular Festival Forum session, this week’s IQ Focus virtual panel will turn the attention to venues, discussing how the world’s many shuttered music venues can weather the Covid-19 storm, and emerge from life under lockdown.

Chaired by John Langford (AEG Europe), The Venue’s Venue: Building Back, will feature speakers Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall/NAA), Olivier Toth (Rockhal/EAA), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions), Tom Lynch (ASM Global) and Lotta Nibell (GOT Event).

The touring world has changed dramatically since venue professionals came together for the Venue Summit at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in March, as doors have been shuttered, countless concerts cancelled and many venues repurposed to help in the fight against the disease.

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far

Panellists will share their strategies on getting through the current crisis, as well as discussing the main lessons they have learned so far.

Looking to the future, the venue experts will also reflect on what the recovery process may look like and what will need to be done to keeps fans, staff and artists safe and get business back up and running in the crucial months ahead.

The session is taking place on Thursday 21 May at 3.30 (BST)/4.30 (CET). Get an automatic reminder when the live stream starts via Facebook Live or YouTube Live.


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EAA launches Europact scheme for emerging artists

The European Arenas Association (EAA) has launched the Europact programme, introducing branded live performance spaces for showcasing European emerging talent across EAA member arenas.

The initiative is part of the EAA’s strategy to support current European Commission initiatives that aim to build and strengthen the music industry across the continent.

Europact, a self-funded programme, will first be launched as a pilot scheme across a limited number of arenas. The spaces will offer opportunities for undiscovered artists to make themselves known to EAA member audiences.

An EAA spokesperson tells IQ the space dedicated to Europact performances will depend on the arena: ” If the artist can carry it there may be opportunities for an opening mainstage exposure, otherwise the space may be in lobby or bar areas,” they say. “Other multi-day events may also offer a platform.”

“The European Union is dedicating large amounts of resources to the European music sector in recognition of its talent potential and creative capacity and we are delighted to be able to offer our infrastructure and know-how in order to support these efforts,” comments John Langford, who was named EAA president in October.

“We have created Europact in order to contribute to building a sustainable European talent pipeline”

Olivier Toth, CEO of EAA member arena Rockhal (6,500-cap.) in Luxemburg, adds, “We have created Europact in order to contribute to building a sustainable European talent pipeline and to encourage the distribution of new music across national borders. Our aim is for the initial pilot scheme to become an established and recognised industry platform able to offer opportunities to young artists for many years to come.”

The EAA’s 35-arena strong portfolio includes venues in 22 countries, which collectively host over 2,500 events annually and attract 20 million fans a year.

Live music was the driving force behind the success of European arenas in 2018, as explained in IQ’s recent European Arena Yearbook, produced in partnership with the EAA and the UK’s National Arena Association (NAA).

EU arenas report bumper year for live music


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