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Gracia Live hails Camille after record-setting run

Gracia Live promoter Sam Perl has saluted Belgian pop star Camille after she became the youngest solo artist to sell out four dates at Antwerp’s Sportpaleis.

The Wevelgem-born 22-year-old, who is tipped to be the country’s next big music export following Stromae and Angele, performed two shows per day at the venue on 4-5 May, selling more than 62,500 tickets.

It was not the first the singer has broken records in her home country, having previously been recognised as the youngest act to sell out five consecutive shows at the 8,050-cap Lotto Arena in Antwerp in November 2022.  She also sold 125,000 tickets in Belgium for her first nationwide tour, which concluded in August 2023.

“We have promoted artists such as Adele, and Måneskin and Olivia Rodrigo’s first concerts in Belgium,” says Perl.” If I would rate Camille’s potential, I’m positive that she’s destined for one place and one place only – the international top! What we have witnessed at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp is only an affirmation that with hard work we can work towards that, step by step, but [earlier this month] we got one step closer.”

“As a music lover, entrepreneur and brand builder, being able to work with an exceptional talent like Camille is a blessing”

Full name Camille Dhont, Camille rose to fame as an actress as part of the cast of Belgian musical drama #LikeMe! and went on to win the second season of The Masked Singer. She also appeared in a reality TV show and two-part documentary about her life. She also plays the lead role in  Currently, she plays the lead role on Belgian TV series Milo.

“As a music lover, entrepreneur and brand builder, being able to work with an exceptional talent like Camille is a blessing,” adds her manager, respected Belgian music industry veteran William Vaesen. “Not only does she represent a new generation of pop artists in our country, but she also combines that with an unprecedented work ethic and a high level of professionalism.

“Giving direction to that total package is not work, it is pure passion. The satisfaction of seeing that result in four sold-out sports arenas in just four years – 62,500 tickets in a market of only six million people – is great, as well as the desire to look beyond national borders and seek partners to further roll out this 360° model together.”

 

 


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Greenhouse sells 120k tickets for Clouseau shows

Greenhouse Talent has revealed it has sold 120,000 tickets in just one hour for a series of concerts marking the 40th anniversary of Belgian pop group Clouseau.

The band, who mainly perform in Dutch, have a large following across Belgium and the Netherlands, and have already sold out eight nights at Antwerp’s Sportpaleis (cap. 23,001) from 20 December 2024 to 4 January 2025.

The response has prompted them to add two extra shows for 9-10 January 2025, bringing their overall number of dates at the venue to 10. Tickets are priced €34-64.

Clouseau played their first ever show on 16 December, 1984 at the CC Sint-Genesius-Rode in Belgium.

“It is clear that no one wants to miss Clouseau’s fortieth birthday,” says a statement by Greenhouse. “No fewer than 120,000 tickets, good for eight Sports Palaces, flew out the door in barely an hour. Demand remains enormous, so Clouseau is adding two extra dates.”

Greenhouse Talent also has upcoming shows with the likes of Jason Derulo, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Rick Astley

The Ghent-based promoter and booking agency also has upcoming shows with the likes of Tony Hadley, Alexis Ffrench, Till Lindemann, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Paul Young, Air, Jason Derulo, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Rick Astley.

The company rescued Belgium’s Gent Jazz Festival from bankruptcy earlier this year after previous organiser went bankrupt. The 2023 event, held from 5-15 July, pulled in around 40,000 visitors across 74 concerts by acts including Ludovico Einaudi, Norah Jones and Herbie Hancock.

“I have a long history with the festival,” Greenhouse Talent owner Pascal Van De Velde told IQ. “We have supplied many headline acts in the past and one of the founders was my best friend, who passed away in 2011, so there was an emotional connection. There is also a geographical connection because it is in our hometown and there is, of course, a content connection because we promote so much jazz.

“We relaunched it and had a very successful edition – one of the most successful editions the festival has ever had.”

Gent Jazz Festival was recently profiled as part of IQ‘s list of ten of the best independent festivals.

 


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Sportpaleis: “We still have to reschedule more than a million tickets”

Belgium’s live industry has largely reopened thanks to the Covid Safe Ticket but it could be up to two years until it’s firing on all cylinders again, according to key venues.

This is partly down to the large numbers of ‘old’ tickets that still need to be rebooked – more than one million for the Sportpaleis Antwerp (cap. 23,001) alone – the Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting Organisation (vrt) reports.

“We still have to reschedule more than one million tickets,” Jan Van Esbroeck, CEO of Sportpaleis Group, told vrt. “People prefer to redeem those already paid tickets first before thinking about new events.”

Esbroeck nods to Bart Peeters’s rescheduled Deluxe concerts at the Group’s Lotto Arena (cap. 5,218) which were announced last week. “You can hardly buy tickets for those new dates because the majority of them have been in the hands of about 50,000 owners for almost two years,” he says.

“It may take another two years before everything falls into place again”

Mike Naert, general director of concert hall Het Depot in Leuven, still notices a lack of trust and even a certain degree of fear among the general public. He mainly blames the communication of the government: “They keep blowing hot and cold at the same time. Do the vaccinations work or not? Is the realm of freedom here or not? Too much confusion is still being sown.”

Many smaller venues also speak of slower or fewer ticket sales compared to before the pandemic. Gilles Ledure, director of Flagey in Ixelles immediately took into account about 30% fewer sales than before the pandemic when the autumn announcements were made: “It is not yet the rush that everyone expected this autumn. It may take another two years before everything falls into place again.”

Jérôme Giersé from Bozar in Brussels added: “The public also decides more last-minute than before corona. Ticket sales are much more difficult to estimate these days.”

 


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Sportpaleis Antwerp set to reopen later this month

Belgium’s Sportpaleis Antwerp, one of the largest arenas in Europe, will open its doors this month for the first time in a year and a half.

The 23,001-capacity arena will reopen on 18 September, accommodating events with and without Belgium’s Covid Safe Ticket (CST).

Organisers can choose whether they’d like to hold an event using the CST, thereby eliminating the need for social distancing, masks, and capacity limits, or whether they’d like to forego the CST and abide by the aforementioned restrictions.

The CST certifies that they are either fully vaccinated or have returned a negative Covid-19 test in the previous 48 hours.

The pass applies to events with more than 1,500 attendees and has been in effect from 13 August for outdoor events and 1 September for indoor events.

“It will still be a bit doom and gloom for us in the first six months”

Promoters using the CST must implement a crowd management plan, as well as ensuring adequate ventilation (in the case of indoor shows) which is measured by a CO2 meter.

The arena’s first event, hardstyle dance show Reverze 2021, Wake of the Warrior, will utilise the CST to welcome a sold-out crowd.

“We have been working on the smaller halls for a while, but the heart of our organisation lies in the Sportpaleis,” Jan Van Esbroeck, CEO of the Sportpaleis Group, told VRT NWS. “The reopening is an important step that we can take towards normalisation, although we realise that it will take a few months before it is as before.”

“This year will also be blood red for us. Most international acts have postponed their tours to later spring next year. It will still be a bit doom and gloom for us in the first six months, not everything is over.”

Sportpaleis Group’s Lotto Arena (8,050-cap.), located adjacent to Sportpaleis Antwerp, opened last weekend.

The Group, which is owned by Live Nation Belgium, also includes venues Forest National (cap. 8,000) in Brussels and the Ethias Arena (cap. 18,000) in Hasselt.

 


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Sportpaleis Group given the go-ahead for pop-up arena

Belgian live entertainment giant Sportpaleis Group has been given the green light to open its pop-up arena in the coastal area of Middelkerke this July.

Sportpaleis Group initially revealed plans to build and operate the temporary venue – dubbed Proximus Pop-Up Arena – in the summer of last year.

The venue has now been permitted to open on 2 July, in line with the Flemish government’s roadmap (the Freedom Plan) which stipulates that outdoor events can take place with 5,000, provided attendees wear a mask and adhere to social distancing.

Initially, the arena will open to 2,500 attendees but the capacity will be increased in August when the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor events is bumped up to 10,000.

“The entire team behind our arenas and theatres is ready to get started with great enthusiasm”

As previously reported in IQ, the infrastructure of the venue will combine aspects of a festival setting – such as tents and open-air spaces – with the comfort of permanent areas with weather-resistant, grandstand seats.

So far, the artists announced to play the Proximus Pop-Up Arena include Gers Pardoel, Cleymans & Van Geel, André Hazes, The Schlager Festival Summer Edition, Mama’s Jasje, Soulsister, Natalia and Axelle Red.

A regular feature of the programming will be the Thursday night concert series ‘A Symphonic Evening with’, which will see the 20-piece Antwerp Philharmonic Orchestra accompany a number of artists.

The temporary venue will remain in Middelkerke until the end of August. Tickets are already on sale here.

“The entire team behind our arenas and theatres is ready to get started with great enthusiasm,” says Jan Van Esbroeck, CEO of the Sportpaleis Group. “We will be able to use all our expertise to offer visitors a wonderful concert experience.”

 


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Sportpaleis plans non-stop 24-hour livestream concert

Antwerp Sportpaleis is organising a 24-hour non-stop livestream concert to mark exactly one year since concert halls closed due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

More than 100 Belgian artists, across all genres, will perform original and cover songs in the empty 18,400-seat arena to show that they are ‘ready to storm stages again’.

The ’24 Hours Live’ event, co-produced by Les Flamands, Sportpaleis Group and Live Nation, will kick off at 6 pm on 12 March and will be streamed in its entirety via hln.be.

Miguel Wiels is part of talent and production agency Les Flamands and one of the artists who will perform on the night: “After a year, the jitters can no longer be kept. Everyone in the industry wants to make music, well, we’re going to do that with my band.

“We have a setlist of more than 400 songs available”

“It’s heartwarming how many artists have voluntarily agreed to play with us. We have a setlist of more than 400 songs available. It’s going to be a long marathon and we probably won’t have enough of it after 24 hours. On the contrary: it is an advance when we will also be able to stand in front of a live audience. That moment is getting closer, we have every confidence in it. This stunt is a good dress rehearsal for that.”

Prime minister Jan Jambon, says: “We have had the most disastrous year in the history of our culture and events sector. I am very happy to contribute to 24 Hours Live. Because that’s what we have to do: let the music go on, no matter how difficult the circumstances. I hope that we will soon be able to resume our normal life.”

Sportpaleis recently raised €50,000 for Belgium’s live music industry through its Lights for Live fundraising initiative.

 


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Sold-out Sportpaleis raises €50,000 for live biz

Fundraising initiative Lights for Live has raised more than €50,000 for Belgium’s live music industry after selling out the Antwerp Sportpaleis for the first time in 2021.

Over 5,000 people booked one or more virtual ‘seats’ at €2 each in the 18,400-seat arena to raise money for Live2020, a solidarity fund to support the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. Previous fundraising events for Live2020 include the Live2020 Auction in November and last year’s Rock Werchter for Live2020.

The money raised by Lights for Live was handed over to Live2020 on Sunday (14 February), while at at the same time each seat in the Sportpaleis was illuminated to represent the fans who couldn’t be present.

“You can feel that people are really starting to look forward to concerts again”

“It is great to see so many people showing their solidarity with the live music sector through this action,” says Clouseau singer Koen Wauters. “You can feel that people are really starting to look forward to concerts again. It’s something I miss a lot myself at the moment.”

“I am genuinely touched by so much light and warmth,” comments musician and composer Miguel Wiels. “It sounds strange, but despite the fact that no one is here, you can still feel a kind of presence from the audience. Hopefully more actions like this will follow soon so that together we can lead the music sector through this crisis and we can make a new start without too much damage.”

According to Niels Destadsbader, another regular at the Sportpaleis, “I must say that I have mixed feelings being here today. On the one hand, it makes me a bit unhappy to see this beautiful concert hall empty, especially because I know from experience how this – in usual circumstances – is an insanely magical place. But on the other hand, I am very happy with the support of our fans and of everyone who supports and cares about music.”

 


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Subs manager on selling out an arena show…without a date

Earlier this month, Ghent-born electro trio the Subs, one of Belgium’s most successful domestic dance acts, announced I Want to Dance Again – “the first post-Covid indoor rave”, taking place in Antwerp on an unspecified date in the post-pandemic future.

As a symbolic, cathartic celebration of a return to normal life, I Want to Dance Again (IWTDA) struck a chord with the both the music industry – quickly winning the backing of Live Nation Belgium and popular radio station Studio Brussel – and ticket buyers, who snapped up passes in their thousands, despite not knowing when the event would take place.

With tickets priced at €35, IWTDA sold out its original home, the 5,218-capacity Lotto Arena, in the space of a week. Now taking place at the arena’s bigger brother, the 18,400-seat Sportpaleis, organisers are similarly confident of selling out the new venue by the time the show goes ahead, the Subs’ manager, Alexander Vandriessche, tells IQ


IQ: Tell us about the genesis of the event. Whose idea was it, and how did it progress from there?
AV: We initially thought up the event when we were brainstorming about the roll-out for the single release of ‘I Want to Dance Again’ by the Subs. We thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool to throw an event – the first major post-pandemic event – at full capacity without social distancing?” We felt like there was a vital need for a sign of hope during the dark winter months, flanked by coronavirus restrictions and semi-lockdowns. A message, spurring people to hang on during these final moments, so we can come together again when this horrible pandemic is under control.

We then pitched the idea to Live Nation, to see if they’d also be up for this idea. We definitely needed a trusted and experienced promoter to piece this together. After researching the feasibility of this event together, we approached media partner Studio Brussel to join us in this unique event. Being a key media partner, rooted in youth and music culture, they too felt that this would be a positive message of reconnection and were extremely excited to get on board. We’ve been enthusiastically working together ever since.

How did you bring Live Nation on board? Did they take much convincing?
We pitched the idea to the promoters at Live Nation almost as soon as we came up with the idea. They were instantly charmed by the idea and started researching the feasibility of the budget and logistics. They’ve been a strong partner in this event since then.

“We felt like there was a vital need for a sign of hope during the dark winter months”

It’s a unique, perhaps unprecedented, challenge to go on sale without even having an event date. Why did you decide to announce it now, rather than wait until you had a confirmed day?
It definitely is a challenge, but, partially due to this peculiar situation we currently find ourselves in, we are confident that we can face the challenges regarding production and artist booking. Calendars and schedules are pretty much open at this point; vendors and crew are more than eager to pull this together; artists are yearning to get back out there.

The health and safety of the visitors, crew and artists are paramount, so it’s essential that we coordinate with local government as to when we can start preparing this event. Therefore, clear and open communication from, and with, local government is essential to move forward and successfully reconnect audiences with artists – something they’re clearly yearning for immensely.

How are ticket sales so far? Do you expect to sell out?
We initially started the event in the smaller, 5,000-capacity Lotto Arena, but after one week we had already sold out. So we moved it to the biggest indoor venue in Antwerp: the Sportpaleis!

Tickets sales are strong, with 10,000 tickets sold to date. We’re optimistic about achieving a sell-out.

“We feel like we’ve been treated as … hobbyists who should find alternative employment”

How do you see the night panning out? Is it a concert, a party, or something in between?
It’ll be an extended event that will go on to the early hours, with a combination of live shows and DJ sets. More than anything, it should be a celebration of reconnection after months of social isolation.

Speaking of social isolation, how do you feel the government has handled the pandemic in Belgium?
Like many organisations across Europe, we feel let down by our governments. While we understand that this is an unprecedented situation – with a pandemic that moves unpredictably, and that the general health and safety of our societies are paramount – we feel like we’ve been treated as a second-class economy, a collective of hobbyists that should just accept that their livelihood has been put on hold and find alternative employment elsewhere in the meanwhile. Whereas we are a strong industry, populated by healthy mid-size companies which are of great importance and deliver a huge social relief to the general public. Culture, arts and a social life are more than simple pastimes – they are essential for the public’s mental wellbeing.

As a sector we feel like we’ve been open-minded and constructive in researching and finding solutions, and would like to keep urging our governments to not forget us. We can work constructively together to organise a safe reconnection, and collaborate to create a positive outlook for culture in the coming months. We owe this to the public.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Sportpaleis Group to open pop-up arena in Belgium

Belgian live entertainment giant Sportpaleis Group has revealed plans to build and operate a pop-up arena, which will be based at Middelkerke leisure park throughout the summer.

The temporary venue, dubbed the Proximus Pop-Up Arena, will be equipped to host 3,500 attendees with a seated configuration and 5,500 attendees with a mix of standing and seated.

According to SportPaleis Group, the infrastructure of the venue will combine aspects of a festival setting – such as tents and open-air spaces – with the comfort of permanent areas with weather-resistant, grandstand seats.

Belgian singer Stan Van Samang will christen the stage on 11 June and the venue will remain open until 31 August, hosting both domestic and international artists.

So far, the artists announced to play the Proximus Pop-Up Arena include Gers Pardoel, Cleymans & Van Geel, André Hazes, The Schlager Festival Summer Edition, Mama’s Jasje, Soulsister, Natalia and Axelle Red.

A regular feature of the programming will be the Thursday night concert series ‘A Symphonic Evening with’, which will see the 20-piece Antwerp Philharmonic Orchestra accompany a number of artists.

The series will run during the months of July and August and tickets are on sale now.

“In these harsh times, it is up to us to show our faith in the music industry. This innovative project comes at the right time”

“There is an explosion of artists and audiences who want to meet each other within the magic of a concert,” says Jan Van Esbroeck, managing director of Sportpaleis Group. “The sector is clearly waiting for it, as evidenced by the more than 20 confirmed activities that have already been booked.”

“In these harsh times, it is up to us to show our faith in the music industry. This innovative project comes at the right time. The relatively small scale guarantees a carefree event experience for visitors by the summer of 2021,” he says.

Van Esbroeck says he hopes the arena will be attended not only by locals but by the millions of holidaymakers that visit the Belgian coast.

Jim Casteele, chief consumer market officer at Proximus, the Belgian communication and media company which has secured the naming rights of the arena, says: “Via the Proximus Pop-Up Arena we want to give Belgian artists, both established and young talents, the opportunity to show themselves to a large audience and at the same time bring them closer to the fans.”

The Sportpaleis Group comprises Night of the Proms promoter PSE Belgium, ticketing company Tele Ticket Service, and venue operator Antwerps Sportpaleis, which was acquired by Live Nation Belgium in 2019 but is still managed by Van Esbroeck and Jan Vereecke following the deal.

The deal also saw Live Nation Belgium acquire the Sportpaleis Group venues which includes the 23,001-capacity Sportpaleis arena in Antwerp (one of the largest arenas in Europe), the Lotto Arena (8,050-cap.), Forest National (8,000-cap.) in Brussels and the Ethias Arena (18,000-cap.) in Hasselt.

 


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Tickets on sale for post-Covid rave in Belgium (date TBA)

Despite not yet having announced a date, tickets are selling fast for I Want to Dance Again, a Live Nation Belgium-promoted event billed as Belgium’s biggest “post-Covid party”, which will take place in Antwerp as soon as restrictions on major events are lifted.

I Want to Dance Again (IWTDA) – also the name of the the latest single by the Subs, the Belgian electro heroes co-organising the party with Live Nation and radio station Studio Brussel – will take the form of an all-night, celebratory rave held at Lotto Arena (5,218-cap.) at an unspecified time in the near future.

Describing the event as “a new year’s resolution you can finally keep”, organisers say: “Let’s dance together again in 2021. When? As soon as the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, we will schedule a date for the first post-Covid indoor rave without restrictions. A relief and reward for our massive efforts, after many months of dance deprivation.

“Together with the Subs, we will dance and party all night long at the Lotto Arena in Antwerp. The date is yet to be determined. The sooner, the better. Are you ready for a wild night out?”

Tickets for IWTDA are priced at €35.

Live Nation acquired the operating rights to Lotto Arena in 2018, when it took over Antwerps Sportpaleis group.

 


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