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Switzerland returns to full-capacity concerts

Switzerland has abolished capacity restrictions on public events in a further relaxation of the country’s coronavirus measures.

As of 26 June, events with more than 10,000 people can take place with attendees who can prove they are vaccinated against, have recovered from, or have tested negative for Covid-19.

Cantons will need to approve events with more than 1,000 people but smaller public gatherings can now go ahead without authorisation.

Venues may operate at full capacity, though they must provide a hygiene and safety plan that shows how entry will be restricted only to people with Covid certificates.

Events can take place which do not require Covid certificates, though capacity and seating restrictions will apply. If the concert is seated, a maximum of 1,000 people may attend. If the concert is standing, the maximum is 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

Events can take place which do not require Covid certificates, though capacity and seating restrictions will apply

Masks must be worn where food and drink are served, though otherwise, masks are no longer required outdoors. Dancing at events and concerts is still banned.

The Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) has welcomed the rollback of restrictions but says it’s crucial that the “protective umbrella” is introduced as quickly as possible across Switzerland, and in a uniform way, in order for the live industry to take full advantage.

Each of the 26 cantons will be responsible for co-financing and implementing the scheme – which has long been a cause for concern for the event associations.

“The majority of the cantons are not yet ready and so the confidence of the industry representatives seriously diminishes,” says the SMPA. “Ultimately, it is important to them that framework conditions and protection concepts are defined uniformly, leanly and practically throughout Switzerland and that they are not strained cantonally or locally.”

The SMPA also argues that the live events industry shouldn’t have to absorb the costs of the restrictions that remain.

“We demand that costs for infrastructure, personnel and tests on-site are borne by the public purse”

“We demand that costs for infrastructure, personnel and tests on-site are borne by the public purse, not just the test material. In view of the increasing number of events, the cantons also need additional test capacities in the regions with major events,” it writes.

The association says that the relaxation of coronavirus measures has restored confidence in some promoters, though the news comes too late for many festival organisers.

OpenAir St.Gallen (1–4 July), Gurtenfestival (14–17 July), Caribana Festival (16–20 July), Thunerseespiele (14–28 August), Paléo Festival Nyon (19–25 July), Greenfield Festival (3–5 June), Rock the Ring (17–19 June) and Baloise Session (23 October to 10 November) called off their 2021 editions earlier this year.

The remaining festivals in Swizterland’s summer season include Summer Now (Biel), Montreux Jazz Festival, Winterthur Music Festival Weeks, Open Air Gampel, SummerDays Festival (Arbon), Seaside Festival (Spiez), Cheerful Events (Zofingen), Weihern Open Air (St. Gallen), Blausee Concerts, and Unique Moments (Zurich).

Switzerland is the latest market to announce the resumption of non-socially distanced shows, along with France, Belgium, the Netherlands, DenmarkAustria and the UK.

 


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Swiss industry increasingly frustrated at restrictions

The Swiss live music industry has expressed frustration at the government’s next rollback of restrictions, which will only see minor improvements to the current capacity limits.

The government announced today that restrictions will be relaxed from 31 May as part of the second ‘stabilisation’ phase of the country’s three-stage roadmap.

From 31 May, indoor public events will be limited to 100 people instead of 50, while outdoor events will be capped at 300 people instead of 100. Social distancing restrictions will apply to all public events.

In the wake of the news, the Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) is demanding that the federal council relax restrictions for events and raise the capacity limit to 1,000 from the end of May.

“The requirements and restrictions for major events defined in the draft ordinance are generally perceived as very strict in relation to other regulated areas (shopping centres, markets, religious gatherings, etc.),” reads a statement from the SMPA.

The SMPA goes on to insist that events with a GGG certificate can be held from 1 July 2021 without additional requirements

The association goes on to say that no other industry is expected to restrict access to those who have recovered from the virus, have a recent negative test, or are fully vaccinated (known as the GGG concept), on top of adhering to distance rules, mask and seating requirements.

The SMPA goes on to insist that events with a GGG certificate be held from 1 July 2021 without additional requirements, regardless of how many people take part in the event.

“If events are restricted to GGG people, the risk of infection can be classified as negligible. The feasibility of events with a GGG certificate in a clearly defined transition phase and the correspondingly consistent admission control must not be associated with any further requirements. Additional requirements are irrelevant and represent a considerable tightening of the measures, which would offer the population and the industry no perspective,” says the alliance.

The government had previously said that from the end of May, the Swiss cantons should be able to approve large-scale events with up to 3,000 visitors (subject to restrictions), provided they are held after 1 July 2021 – in line with the country’s ‘protective umbrella’ insurance scheme.

The federal council also suggested that, from September 1, the upper capacity limit would be increased to 10,000 people. It is yet to be seen whether the government will allow these restriction rollbacks.

 


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Swiss live industry welcomes partial reopening

Switzerland’s cultural industry has welcomed the federal government’s decision to allow audiences at concerts again amid a wider rollback of restrictions.

As of Monday (19 April), 50-capacity indoor shows and 100-capacity outdoor shows will be permitted but attendance cannot exceed one-third of the capacity of the venue. Food and drink will not be served. 

Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) hailed the move as “an important first step” but continues to call for a perspective on larger events.

Any public events scheduled between 1 June 2021 and 30 April 2022 which have ‘cross-cantonal importance’ will be covered by the Swiss government’s event cancellation scheme, thanks to a recent update in legislation.

Under the new scheme, organisers of major events who have a cantonal permit can claim back costs that aren’t covered by public support measures, insurance or cancellation agreements, if their event is cancelled or postponed due to government-enforced Coronavirus restrictions.

However, the prerequisites of the scheme – such as the need for a cantonal permit – seems to have left organisers and live associations more uncertain than ever about the viability of this year’s festival season.

The Swiss Music Promoters’ Association hailed the move as ‘an important first step’

SMPA’s managing director, Stefan Breitenmoser, doubts whether organisers of major events will be able to secure cantonal permits far enough in advance of their events: “In reality, permits are only issued relatively shortly before the event during normal operations.”

Another concern is that the scheme does not cover events that can only be carried out to a limited extent.

Major Swiss festivals that have already pulled the plug on this year include Paléo Festival Nyon, Greenfield Festival, Rock the Ring, OpenAir St.Gallen, Gurtenfestival, Zermatt Unplugged, Caribana Festival and Thunerseespiele.

The rollback of restrictions comes despite the fact that the landlocked country’s epidemic “remains fragile and has even worsened in recent weeks”.

However, the government stressed in a statement, it “estimates that the risks associated with this easing are acceptable”.

Switzerland, a country of 8.6 million people, has to date counted more than 625,000 coronavirus cases and 9,790 deaths.

 


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More Swiss festivals cancel “unfeasible” 2021 editions

OpenAir St.Gallen (1–4 July), Gurtenfestival (14–17 July), Zermatt Unplugged (15–25 July), Caribana Festival (16–20 July) and Thunerseespiele (14–28 August) have called it quits on their Swiss summer events for the second consecutive year.

Swiss festivals Paléo Festival Nyon, Greenfield Festival, Rock the Ring and Baloise Session have already called off their 2021 editions.

CTS Eventim’s OpenAir St.Gallen (OASG), which usually welcomes 30,000 guests each year, released a statement on Facebook saying a 2021 edition “is simply not feasible” due to the pandemic and the current ban on large events.

“The outlook for the summer has become more and more uncertain over the past few weeks and months,” reads the statement.

News of the recent cancellations comes days after the Swiss federal government announced an update to its event cancellation scheme, which seems to have left organisers and live associations more uncertain than ever about the viability of this year’s festival season.

“The outlook for the summer has become more and more uncertain over the past few weeks and months”

One of the main concerns of the Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) is whether the government will provide insurance for events that can only be carried out to a limited extent.

Stefan Breitenmoser, managing director of SMPA, says: “Should the original planning be maintained or can alternative formats be worked out? There are still no framework conditions and approval criteria for both. In addition, it is unclear what compensation organisers will receive if planning continues and the event has to be cancelled later or can only be carried out to a limited extent.”

Christoph Bill, president of the SMPA, says it boils down to a fundamental question: “Do we want to preserve cultural diversity in the long term?”

“Its economic importance and its role for the wellbeing of a large population are undisputed, but politicians and authorities still do not seem to recognise the seriousness and urgency of the situation. Is there also a lack of will? Does it even come in handy when the organisers cancel on their own initiative? Doesn’t anyone want to take responsibility on the part of the authorities? Is the federal system simply not suitable for a crisis?”

The SMPA is now calling for compensation for losses of more than 100% of the actual damage incurred

The SMPA is now calling for the opening steps and framework conditions until normal operations resume to be defined in a standardised manner across Switzerland, as well as a commitment to compensation for losses of more than 100% of the actual damage incurred – “without cantonal ceilings that distort competition, and rapid, pragmatic implementation of the protective umbrella that has been agreed”.

According to the SMPA, the following Swiss festivals are under pressure to make a decision now: Stars of Sounds Aarberg / Murten, blues’n’jazz Rapperswil, Montreux Jazz Festival, Open Air Frauenfeld, Openair Etziken, Open Air Lumnezia, Unique Moments Zurich, Blue Balls Festival, Basel Tattoo, Sion sous les étoiles, Flumserberg Open Air, Summer Stage Basel and Lake Live Festival.

The association says the following Swiss festivals have until the end of April 2021 to make fundamental decisions: Stars in Town, Musikfestwochen Winterthur, Hehre Open Air, Open Air Gampel, Royal Arena Festival, SummerDays Festival, Seaside Festival and JazzNoJazz.

 


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Major Swiss festivals cancel 2021 editions

A number of Swiss festivals have called off 2021 editions, citing uncertainty about whether major events will be permitted to take place this summer.

The 45th instalment of the annual rock festival Paléo Festival Nyon, scheduled to take place between 19–25 July, has been cancelled as “the situation is still too uncertain to consider organising the festival in its usual form”.

However, the organisers revealed that they are working on a ‘Covid-compatible event’ with a reduced capacity and size, and an extended duration. Health conditions permitting, it will take place from 8 July to 8 August 2021.

Greenfield Festival 2021, due to take place in Interlaken, Bern, between 3–5 June with headliners Volbeat, Korn and Billy Talent, has also been called off.

“Just when we saw a light at the end of the tunnel, it moves even further away than it already was,” reads a statement from the organisers.

“We don’t know which rules might have to be followed, which capacity is allowed, which measures we would have to integrate”

“The situation around Covid-19 is simply not getting better fast enough internationally and in Switzerland in particular. Since we don’t know whether major events will be allowed at all, we simply lack planning certainty. We don’t know which rules might have to be followed, which capacity is allowed and which measures we would have to integrate.”

Rock the Ring (cap. 15,000) has also been cancelled for a second consecutive year due to “the lack of planning security for large events,” says the organiser. The event was planned for 17–19 June in Hinwil, with a line-up that included Foreigner, Three Doors Down and Airbourne.

However, CTS Eventim’s stable of Swiss events, which includes Open Air St Gallen (1–4 July) and SummerDays and Seaside Festival (3–4 September), are taking a wait-and-see approach.

On 4 February, a statement was published on their respective social media pages saying the organisers are “working on various scenarios and protection concepts” for each festival but that ultimately, it’s uncertain whether the events will be able to take place.

At the time of writing Blue Balls Festival is set to go ahead from 23–31 July in Lucerne; hip-hop festival Openair Frauenfeld is holding onto its 7–10 July date and pop event Zürich Openair is on for 25–28 August.

Swiss concert series Baloise Session became the first major European festival to cancel its in-person 2021 edition

Swiss concert series Baloise Session became the first major European festival to cancel its in-person 2021 edition in January, as organisers say it’s “impossible to plan with any certainty” due to the limitations of the pandemic.

While it was announced in February that Montreux Jazz Festival will take place at least partially in the digital realm in 2021, livestreaming all performances from its 55th edition as part of a plan to protect the festival against future disruption.

The lack of certainty around Switzerland’s summer season prompted the Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA), along with 26 of the country’s festivals, to call for clarity on the conditions under which Swiss festivals can be held regularly and at full capacity without social distancing.

Last month’s appeal relayed three key requirements for the restart of Swiss festivals: a transparent strategy and uniform conditions for holding events safely, a continual review of measures to ensure they are proportionate to the risks posed, and an event cancellation fund that covers 100% of losses.

Elsewhere, in neighbouring Germany, CTS Eventim and Goodlive have cancelled a slate of the market’s major festivals.

 


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European markets seek clarity on festival season

Major European festival markets are urgently seeking clarity on the viability of this year’s summer season in a race against the clock.

In Switzerland, promoters’ association SMPA has released a statement, co-signed by 26 of the country’s festivals, calling for clarity on the conditions under which Swiss festivals can be held regularly and at full capacity without social distancing.

The appeal also relays three key requirements for the restart of Swiss festivals: a transparent strategy and uniform conditions for holding events safely, a continual review of measures to ensure they are proportionate to the risks posed, and an event cancellation fund that covers 100% of losses.

“2021 is not 2020, the statement reads. “There are better treatment options, testing options are constantly evolving, and vaccinations are ongoing. In combination with the expected lower case numbers in the summer months, this creates a different starting position for the summer of 2021. The task now is to find a strategy for summer 2021.”

“2021 is not 2020. There are better treatment options, testing options are constantly evolving, and vaccinations are ongoing”

The statement has been co-signed by festivals including OpenAir St Gallen (cap. 30,000), which is part of the majority CTS Eventim-owned wepromote, SummerDays (12,000), and Seaside Festival (10,000) – all of which were cancelled last year after the Swiss government outlawed live events until the end of summer 2020.

In Denmark, festival organisers have been given a glimmer of hope after the government announced the spring arrival of a vaccine passport, but are still seeking the security needed in order to plan for the summer.

Acting minister of finance, Morten Bødskov, announced in a press conference on Wednesday (3 February) that digital Coronavirus passports will be ready for use in three to four months but will initially apply only to travel.

According to Bødskov, whether the digital passport can be used to go to a concert or a festival is a political discussion that will be decided by the infection situation.

The Danish live industry is cautiously optimistic about the news and have called for a roadmap for reopening to allow organisers to plan for the summer.

“[The vaccine passport] can be crucial in ensuring that we can quickly reopen venues and hold festivals this summer”

“The corona passport is an important tool that can be crucial in reopening the live industry,” says Esben Marcher, head of Dansk Live. “It is positive that a digital corona passport is now being established. It can be crucial in ensuring that we can quickly reopen venues and hold festivals when the summer comes.”

“Time is, of course, a significant challenge right now, and in organiser optics, three to four months is a very long time. The infection is currently fairly under control and the vaccine plan is being rolled out. Therefore, it should now be time to reconsider the plan for reopening. It will allow the country’s many organisers to plan for the future. ”

Danish festivals organisers say the ongoing uncertainty about whether the festival summer is to go ahead is keeping them in a stalemate situation.

“There are quite a few deals we do not close so as not to commit too much financially. Otherwise, we can have problems if the health authorities believe that we can not hold the festival,” Nicklas Lundorf, Langelandsfestival told Berlingske.

Lundorf revealed that the organisers are still planning to hold the festival until told otherwise.

“When are we going to throw ourselves in at the last minute and close the agreements that are crucial?”

“It’s something we go and discuss internally. When do we have a cut-off date? When are we going to throw ourselves in at the last minute and close the agreements that are crucial in order to get the festival off the ground?” he says.

Vaccine passports have been gaining traction across Europe, with Poland becoming the latest concert market to confirm it will issue its citizens with a vaccine passport when they have been immunised against Covid-19.

Elsewhere in Europe, Portugal is examining whether ‘safe bubbles’ of vaccinated festivalgoers could be the key to keeping fans and artists safe this summer, French festival operators ‘have 11 days to save festivals’, and the UK festival sector is waiting with bated breath for the prime minister to reveal a roadmap on the 22 February.

The lessons that can be learned from 2020’s lost festival summer will be discussed at ILMC during Festival Forum: Reboot & Reset, while leading festivals operators will be discussing the evolving passions, priorities and unique features of their events in Festival Futures: Core Priorities.

 


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European assocs predict 6–12 month recovery period

Today the UK inches closer towards a return to normality after delivering the very first Covid jab as part of the mass vaccination programme being rolled out across the nation.

A 90-year-old woman received the first of 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that will be given in the coming weeks, with up to four million more are expected by the end of the month, according to the BBC.

The rollout is a light at the end of the tunnel for the domestic live industry, especially after the UK culture minister predicted that the events industry is likely to return to normality by next Easter.

However, associations in Germany, Spain and Switzerland say the rollout for vaccines in Europe is a little further behind and predict a recovery period of between 6–12 months for live.

EU member countries have jointly agreed on the purchase, approval and distribution of the vaccines and are currently awaiting approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is expected between mid-December and the end of the year.

“[BDKV] expects the industry back on track in 2022, nationally, and picking up to pre-pandemic operations in 2023”

Jens Michow, managing president of the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) in Germany, says he is hoping for the domestic live industry to return for good during the course of 2021 but he expects Covid-safe regulations to stay in place until the pandemic is over.

“Vaccine status development until winter 2021/22 is crucial for the industry to be able to operate through next winter without lockdowns. If that would be possible, we expect the industry back on track in 2022, nationally, and picking up to pre-pandemic operations in 2023, but only if the international partners can operate without limitations as well,” he says.

In Germany, the federal states are responsible for rolling out the vaccines to the population and are currently setting up vaccine centres, which will be ready during the course of December, ready to follow the national vaccination strategy for distribution.

Similarly, the distribution of the vaccine in Switzerland will be organised by each individual canton, though Stefan Breitenmoser from Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) says not all cantons will be ready when the vaccine is launched early next year and predicts a return to live late next year at the earliest.

“Due to planning uncertainty and limited international travel, many [Swiss] artists are postponing their tours until 2022”

“Pre-sales for events, no matter when they take place, have completely collapsed again since mid-October 2020,” says Breitenmoser. “Due to planning uncertainty and limited international travel, many artists are currently postponing their tours until 2022. We do not expect normal operations before the end of 2021, although there will be some easing of the measures before then, as we need at least six months’ lead time after the end of the measures.”

According to an interview with the Swiss head of infection control at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), Virginie Masserey, Switzerland’s vaccination rollout should last six months and be completed by the summer of 2021.

Elsewhere, though the Association of Musical Promoters of Spain says it won’t speculate on a specific date for the return of live, “there is some optimism regarding summer 2021, though it will depend on progress in vaccination and the health situation”. A spokesperson says: “For now, what we do know is that many summer festivals have already begun to announce a 2021 edition that can be experienced normally.”

“There is some optimism [in Spain] regarding summer 2021, though it will depend on progress of the vaccination”

According to the association, approval for the first of the vaccines (Pfizer) will come on 29 December and the second (Moderna) on January 12 for Spain. Spanish president Pedro Sánchez says the government is “working at full capacity so that the vaccines are available as soon as possible.”

According to the minister of health, Salvador Illa, Spain’s vaccination campaign could begin in January and by May and June between 15–20 million people would already be vaccinated.

The minister has presented a vaccination plan that will be developed in three phases, distributed throughout 2021 and giving priority to risk groups.

The associations’ timelines roughly align with that of industry heads including CTS Eventim’s Klaus Peter Schulenburg and AEG Presents France’s Arnaud Meersseman, who shared predictions with IQ last month after news of the two vaccines. Read the feature here.

 


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No cap limit as Switzerland clears return of major shows

Events with more than 1,000 people will once again be permitted in Switzerland from 1 October, the country’s governing Federal Council has announced.

The ban on “major” events (ie those with a capacity of over 1,000) – originally introduced in late February and extended in April – was due to expire on 31 August but will be extended another month, until the end of September, after which large-scale live events may return, councillors Simonetta Sommaruga, Alain Berset and Guy Parmelin announced in a press briefing yesterday (12 August).

The reopening of Europe’s eighth-largest live music market “takes into account [Switzerland’s] social needs, for example for a diverse cultural life”, as well as “economic interests”, according to a government statement – though the council says it is keen to “ensure that the epidemiological situation does not deteriorate” as restrictions are loosened.

All major events will need to approved by the governments of Switzerland’s 26 semi-autonomous member states, the cantons, which are urged to take into account infection rates locally, as well as their contract-tracing capabilities.

“We need personal responsibility now more than ever”

Events will also be subject to unspecified “strict protective measures”. The Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) is tasked with working alongside the cantons to draw up uniform guidelines for approving major events by 2 September.

Berset , head of the FDHA, said: “We need personal responsibility now more than ever. The federal government will now work out the exact conditions for the approval of major events, together with the cantons.”

Stefan Breitenmoser, managing director of the Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA), welcomes the relaxation of the restrictions – but says the industry urgently needs to know what the “strict protective measures” will look like in order to begin planning for a return to business.

Speaking to news agency Keystone-SDA, Breitenmoser adds: “Something like normality will only occur in our industry towards the middle, or even the end, of 2021.”

As of 12 August, Switzerland had 274 daily cases of Covid-19, with 2,478 Swiss currently ill with the virus.

 


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SMPA advises members to move events to 2021

The Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) has advised its members to postpone any large events due to take place before mid-July until next year.

The advice from SMPA comes in the absence of an official government declaration on the reopening of large-scale events, despite the introduction of its exit plan last week.

Some Swiss festivals, including Paléo Festival Nyon or Montreux Jazz Festival, have taken the decision to cancel into their own hands, while others such as OpenAir St Gallen, SummerDays and Seaside Festivals, Openair Frauenfeld and Zürich Openair are waiting for further clarification.

According to the promoters’ association, such clarification will not come until, at earliest, later this week. “For many cultural, sporting and entertainment events planned for the weeks following the end of the event ban on 10 May, this is simply too late,” reads an SMPA statement.

Having weighed up the risks, the SMPA is recommending that festival organisers cancel, of their own accord, any events due to take place before the middle of July and reschedule for next year.

“The economic risks, probable or already confirmed cancellations of international artists and growing public pressure outweigh any legal uncertainties [of postponing events until 2021]”

“The economic risks, probable or already confirmed cancellations of international artists, as well as growing public pressure outweigh any legal uncertainties [of postponing events until 2021],” reads the statement.

For those events due to take place from the end of July, it is recommended that organisers continue planning “for as long as possible” to avoid “premature cancellation”.

The SMPA is developing a feasible exit strategy for events, which it will propose to the government. The promoters’ association has already asked authorities to extend the state of force majeure to festivals and events until 90 days after the end of official measures against the spread of the virus.

By not formally extending its ban on mass gatherings when announcing the lifting of lockdown measures, the Swiss government bucked a trend seen in European countries including Finland (31 July), the Netherlands (1 September), Luxembourg (31 July), Germany (31 August), Belgium (31 August), France (mid-July), Austria (30 June) and Denmark (31 August).

 


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“A rescue umbrella”: New funding offers biz financial boost

As the coronavirus does its best to ensure venues remain shuttered for as long as possible, a range of organisations are stepping in to ease the financial pressures faced by live entertainment businesses worldwide.

In Europe’s largest live music market, Germany, the government has dedicated €50 billion to its creative and cultural industries. The financial aid consists of grants for small companies and the self-employed to cover overhead costs such as renting venues and studio space, and loans for business premises and leasing instalments.

A further €10bn will be provided to facilitate access to social security for self-employed workers for a six-month period, including unemployment insurance and expenses for housing.

Culture minister Monika Grütters calls the aid package a “rescue umbrella for the cultural, creative and media sector”. All cultural institutions in Germany remain closed until 19 April.

“The cultural sector, in particular, is characterised by a high proportion of self-employed people who now have problems with their livelihoods,” says Grütters. “These multilevel protection measures show that the Federal government is determined to do everything possible to counter the devastating consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic in the cultural and creative fields. We won’t let anyone down.”

The funding is part of a wider €750m aid package, approved by the German parliament on Friday, to protect the country’s economy from the effects of coronavirus.

“A high proportion of self-employed people now have problems with their livelihoods”

Other aid set to benefit the creative industries includes short-term work benefits, tax liquidity aids and €550 billion worth of loans, available from state business development bank KfW, with no upper limit set on credit offerings.

The government in Switzerland has also recently announced a targeted package for the cultural sector, totalling CHF280m (€264.6m). The funding has been welcomed by Swiss promoters’ association SMPA and the wider cultural and events sector.

The financial support comes after the Swiss government unveiled a CHF20bn (€18.8bn) emergency loan programme for companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak at the end of last week. After a quick initial uptake in loans, the government is already in talks to increase the available funds.

In the Netherlands, the government is working with industry representatives to potentially bring in legislation to allow event organisers to refund ticketholders with vouchers to spend on future events, rather than cash refunds.

Dutch promoters’ association VVEM recently sent a letter to the government estimating the damage done to the industry by Covid-19 could be as much as €1.5bn over the summer months, and asking for more concrete support with regards to finance and cooperation from local governments.

Rights societies have also been playing their part, with the German music licensing society (GEMA)’s €40m crisis fund for song writers and the UK’s PRS for Music offering grants of up to £1,000 to each of its members.

“We know we need to get money into the pockets of our members quickly and efficiently”

Recent support for the sector in Australia has come from Apra Amcos (Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society), which is bringing forward its live performance royalty payout from November to May.

Members will receive a full year’s worth of royalties using data from last year’s reports.

“The Covid-19 crisis has hit every segment of Australia and New Zealand’s music sector,” comments Apra Amcos chief executive, Dean Ormston.

“From our songwriter, composer and publisher members to the venues, events and festivals and the managers, crew and SMEs of the industry, the impact of necessary government regulations has been immediate and devastating.

“We know we need to get money into the pockets of our members quickly and efficiently.”

The news comes as Australia’s three biggest live companies, Live Nation Australasia, TEG and Frontier Touring/Chugg Entertainment, form a music promoters’ taskforce to call for government aid for small- and medium-sized businesses during the coronavirus shutdown.

“As industry leaders we want to ensure the survival of the many small and medium-sized businesses that support our industry, so that we can continue to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy when we eventually emerge from this crisis,” reads a letter from the taskforce.

“As industry leaders we want to ensure the survival of the many small and medium-sized businesses that support our industry”

Performing rights organisations in France have contributed to the National Centre for Music’s €11.5m emergency fund for the entertainment sector, with Sacem, Adami and Spedidam, each adding €500,000 to the centre’s initial €10m funding package.

Industry body Prodiss had previously deemed the government’s targeted funding for the music and performing arts sectors – which totals €15m – “completely divorced from reality”, although it welcomes the government’s wider €45bn aid package for businesses.

The French government has also dedicated €22 million to support the “intermittents du spectacle”, or freelancers working in the entertainment industry.

Funding for the UK’s cultural sectors has come from a range of places, including significant funding from Arts Council England, which has dedicated a £160 million package for cultural organisations, freelancers and individual artists, £5m from the Help Musicians’ coronavirus financial hardship fund, plus a £500,000 boost from the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain, and £1m from the Musicians’ Union’s coronavirus fund.

New Zealand music industry charity MusicHelps has launched MusicHelpsLive, an appeal to support those facing hardship due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The charity aims to raise NZ$2m (€1m) for workers in the live industry.

 


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