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Swiss sector pleads for Covid support extension

A report on the Swiss live music and cultural scene has warned that failing to extend support measures beyond the end of 2021 would be “enormously damaging” for the sector.

The survey, carried out by research office Ecoplan, concludes the domestic market is “a long way from normalisation”, with two-thirds (65%) of businesses still reliant on support to get through the next 12 months – prompting calls for the government to extend support measures until the end of 2022.

Published this week, the study was conducted on behalf of the country’s culture taskforce, whose members include representatives of the Swiss Music Promoters Association, the Music Managers Forum, music clubs and festivals association PETZI and Swiss Music Council, SMR, among others.

“Stopping support at the end of the year would be enormously damaging for those still affected and would [waste] the help provided over the past few months,” says the taskforce. “Although the various support systems only cover the bare minimum, they have proven to be effective.”

Despite there being signs of recovery for the market next year, 45% of companies said they expected a turnover of no more than 80% in 2022 compared to pre-Covid levels, while almost a quarter (23%) of respondents reported bookings were down by half.

“Almost three quarters stated that sales in the past year were below 80%, and almost half were even below 40% of the usual figures before corona – circumstances among which companies can hardly survive without support,” adds the taskforce.

We ask parliament to keep the safety nets for our industry… in the hope they will be less needed from month-to-month

“The figures collected in the survey underpin the need for an extension. The results show a slight recovery in the current year, but a cultural establishment like the one it was before the pandemic is not in sight in 2022 either.”

A mooted switch to a system with repayable loans was rejected by members.

“Only 4% of the companies surveyed and 9% of the cultural associations stated that such a system would help them instead of the previous [measures],” it says.

“The culture taskforce, together with the population and the authorities, hopes that this pandemic and its far-reaching consequences will soon be overcome. Now, we ask parliament to keep the safety nets for our industry, which have been functioning well so far… in the hope that they will be less needed from month-to-month.”

Switzerland abolished capacity restrictions on public events over the summer. Since late June, events of more than 10,000 people have been permitted to take place with attendees who can prove they are vaccinated against, have recovered from, or have tested negative for Covid-19.


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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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