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International music biz rallies support for Beirut

The international music industry is rallying support to help those affected by last month’s devastating explosion in Beirut with a number of livestream fundraising events.

Electronic Labor Day (ELD) and Beatport ReConnect are joining forces to broadcast 12 hours of live electronic music this Sunday (13 September), with the aim of raising $500,000 to help rebuild the Lebanese capital.

“Beirut is hurting. The events of August 4th have devastated a difficult situation. No ounce of solidarity was missing in the minutes and hours following the tragedy… Let’s put that noble sentiment to good use,” reads a statement from the organisers.

Over 100 international DJs have been enlisted for the cause, including Blond:ish, Danny Howard and Pete Tong.

The For Beirut fundraiser will be streamed on the ELD website from 1:58 pm local time with a minute of silence to mark the time of the blast and 40 days of mourning.

“No ounce of solidarity was missing in the hours following the tragedy. Let’s put that noble sentiment to good use”

Funds will be split between three causes including Beirut Emergency Fund, Impact Lebanon and Bebw’shebbek.

For Beirut follows a fundraiser which took place earlier this week (8 September), organised by Arabic streaming platform Anghami, and Sony Music Entertainment Middle East.

The Sound of Beirut featured two hours’ worth of virtual performances from Arabic and international artists including Craig David, The Chainsmokers and Maya Diab, which were streamed on Anghami.

The donations, which are yet to be announced, will go to Global Aid for Lebanon.

For Beirut will be the second edition of ELD; the first taking place earlier this year to support the nightlife non-managerial personnel who have been deeply impacted by the repercussions of Covid-19.


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Netherlands announces €482m aid for culture sector

Following weeks of protests by beleaguered live entertainment businesses, the Netherlands’ government has announced a further €482 million in emergency funding for the Dutch cultural sector.

The new funding, announced today (28 August), follows an initial package of €300m made available to cultural businesses in April.

Speaking to de Volkskrant, Dutch culture minister Ingrid Van Engelshoven – who has been criticised for her perceived slowness to act on behalf of creative businesses, especially in comparison to neighbouring Germany –  says she believes that “the Dutch cultural sector cannot [now] say that their needs are not being met.”

The announcement of the support package follows the Night of Live and #SoundofSilence campaigns, both of which aimed to secure further government support for the Dutch live industry. While live music has to an extent restarted in the Netherlands, stringent social-distancing regulations mean the vast majority of business have been unable to return to any kind of normality.

€150m will be allocated to local authorities to support their local music venues and theatres

Businesses including Friendly Fire, Mojo Concerts and arenas Ziggo Dome and AFAS Live have made redundancies to cut costs in recent months.

Of the new money, €200m will be allocated to “large cultural institutions” and the ecosystem of artists and self-employed workers around them, according to de Volkskrant. The AFAS Live arena in Amsterdam illuminated for the recent Night of Live “as they see fit”, with the rest divided between, among other things, filmmakers, museums and the Brown Fleet of historic ships.

€14m is also reserved for events and companies who lost their subsidies in the latest round of Performing Arts Fund decisions.

“Just like other sectors, the cultural and creative sector will have to adapt,” says Van Engelshoven, “[but] the cabinet wants there to be a strong cultural and creative sector even after the corona crisis. It also makes a significant contribution to a healthy business climate in the Netherlands.”


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Dutch events sector joins Belgium’s Sound of Silence

The Dutch live business has announced it will participate in Belgium’s Sound of Silence campaign, which went viral at the beginning of August.

The initiative saw swathes of Belgians denounce the government for the lack of support in the culture and events sector by changing their profile pictures to an orange “Sound of Silence” cross and tweet with the hashtag #SoundOfSilence.

The campaign was launched on 10 August as the country’s newly formed Live Sector Consultation warned in an open letter that tens of millions of euros are needed to prevent the collapse of the €1bn Belgian live music industry.

Jolanda Jansen, director of Dutch arena Rotterdam Ahoy, and spokesperson on behalf of the alliance says, “The coronavirus and its impact are transnational. Many initiatives are also emerging in the Netherlands and we are also feeling increasing pressure to take action. You can reinvent the wheel, but collaboration is exactly what we want with the alliance; the Low Countries are joining forces. ”

The Dutch campaign is being spearheaded by the Alliance of Event Builders (Alliantie van Evenementenbouwers), a new umbrella organisation comprising promoters’ association VVEM, festival/venues body VNPF and other industry bodies.

As well as Sound of Silence, The Netherlands are also taking note from Germany’s initiative, Night of Live, which will see music-related buildings illuminated in red on 25 August.

“Many initiatives are also emerging in the Netherlands and we are also feeling increasing pressure to take action”

“If we don’t take action, we will face a wave of bankruptcies. The colour red represents the love for and fraternization of the event industry, the red list of endangered industries and red alarm,” says Stijn Oude Vrielink, owner of Venue Marketing, who initiated the campaign.

“This campaign was so successful that I wanted to organize something similar for the Netherlands,” says Oude Vrielink. “We started preparations a month ago and we went live this week. Everyone is very enthusiastic.”

The Netherlands relaxed its coronavirus regulations from 1 July, removing the capacity limit for seated indoor and outdoor events, provided fans have undergone health checks before entry.

The capacity limit for events that do not undertake health checks increased to 100 for indoor venues and 250 for outdoor shows from 1 July, while festivals in the Netherlands have to obtain licences from local authorities before being able to resume.

Nightclubs and discos remain closed until 1 September – which was the original deadline for the ban on large-scale events. The rules for clubs and similar venues will be reassessed at the end of August.

Intiatives similar to Sound of Silence have launched throughout Europe including the UK’s #WeMakeEvents campaign, which was organised by the Professional Lighting & Sound Association (Plasa) to raise awareness surrounding the struggling freelancers who work across the live events and entertainment sector.

The campaign followed on from the UK’s initial call-to-arms, Let the Music Play, which launched a social media campaign and a letter laying out the necessary support measures, signed by artists and industry professionals, which was delivered to UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden.


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Australian industry unites as gov boosts stimulus package

An Australian music industry taskforce, consisting of Chugg Entertainment, Frontier Touring, Live Nation, Live Performance Australia (LPA) and TEG, among others, has established Sound Of Silence, an initiative dedicated to bringing relief to the Australian live business.

The collective has implemented a range of targeted activity, encouraging fans to donate to music charity Support Act via the SOS website. On the platform, fans can also buy SOS t-shirts with all proceeds going to Support Act, or access an online superstore for artist merchandise.

The taskforce encourages fans to consider donating refunds for cancelled shows to venues or Support Act, and to keep tickets for rescheduled shows, as well as showing support by buying music through online platforms such as Bandcamp.

Workers affected by event cancellations and postponements are directed to the I Lost My Gig platform, which is logging the income loss from cancellations and the number of people and events affected.

At the time of writing, income loss stood at AU$300m (£150.5m), with 274,000 gigs and almost 600,000 Australian workers affected.

The Sound Of Silence initiative comes as many in the industry deem Australian government measures to support the business through the virus insufficient.

“Without a targeted, immediate and substantial support package, there will be no bridge to recovery for these companies and they will die”

Over the weekend, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a second economic relief package worth $66 billion (£33.2bn), on top of a previous $17.6bn (£8.8bn) package and more than $100bn (£49.8bn) in emergency banking measures.

The new package includes six-month income support for those who have lost their jobs and for self-employed workers, casual workers and contractors who meet the income test; loan guarantees for small- and medium-sized businesses of up to $250,000 (£124,600); and wage subsidies of up to $100,000 (£49,800) for small- and medium-sized businesses.

“The small business package measures announced today, while welcome, will not make a material difference to 80% of our companies,” reads a statement issued by LPA. “These are businesses whose entire revenue has fallen off a cliff. Without immediate support, they won’t survive.

“Without a targeted, immediate and substantial support package, there will be no bridge to recovery for these companies and they will die.”

LPA calls for an additional $650m (£325m) emergency music industry package, warning that without targeted support measures, the virus “will be the death knell for Australia’s world class live performance industry”.

Photo: Commonwealth of Australia 2016 (CC BY 4.0) (cropped)


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