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Results from Spain’s festival study published

The Catalan government says it has gleaned “valuable information” about how major events could take place in the future from a study of three festivals that took place in early July.

The three festivals – Cruïlla, Vida and Canet Rock – went ahead using recommendations from the Love of Lesbian test concert which they co-organised along with Primavera Sound (which organised the Primacov test), Sónar and Festival de Jazz de Barcelona.

All three festivals took place without social distancing and with attendees wearing mandatory FFP2 masks. Entry to the festivals was dependent on a negative result from a Covid-19 rapid test.

Despite finding a high number of infections among concertgoers, the department of culture says its study will prove highly beneficial when it comes to improving protocols and security measures for festivals.

The department’s study found that 2,279 attendees of the festivals contracted Covid-19 – 76% more than the cases recorded in a control group.

The department’s study found that 2,279 attendees of the festivals contracted Covid-19

The nearly 50,000 people who attended the events were compared to a control group with the same breakdown of age, sex, residence and immunity during the days the events took place.

The study found that 466 attendees of Vida, 956 of Canet Rock and 857 of Cruïlla tested positive for the coronavirus in the two weeks following the concerts.

In the control group, the number of cases detected on the same dates of the events was 197, 525 and 571, respectively.

The study expected that a maximum of 1,437 infections would be recorded after the festivals, but this was exceeded by 842, bringing the total number of cases to 2,279.

The government says a small percentage of the festivalgoers – 271 people – attended one of the events despite testing positive for the coronavirus beforehand, though it’s unclear how they were admitted.

The department also pointed out that previous pilots took place when there was a “much less transmissible variant” of Covid

The secretary of public health, Carmen Cabezas, defended the number of infections, explaining that in early July – and in a context of 8,000 cases a day – the festivals “were just one more factor among all those that occurred at that moment”.

In early July, Catalonia was grappling with the fifth coronavirus wave and contagion rates were already at high-risk levels.

The department also pointed out that previous pilots took place when there was a “much less transmissible variant” of Covid.

Currently, in Catalonia, concerts are allowed to take place with up to 1,000 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors or indoor spaces with enhanced ventilation, access control and prior seat allocation.

 


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Rockhal hosts its biggest pilot concerts yet

Luxembourg’s Rockhal (cap. 6,500) is scaling up its pilot concerts from 100 to 600 people per night as part of the Because Music Matters initiative.

The initiative initially launched in February with five nights of pilot concerts, limited to 100 people each night.

The second round of Because Music Matters launched on Friday 21 May when an audience of 600 tested people watched Luxembourgish artist Serge Tonnar perform in Rockhal’s main hall.

In addition to the sanitary measures in place – which included physical distancing (between groups of up to 4 people) and mandatory wearing of masks – each attendee was required to undergo a PCR or a free antigen test before the concert, as well as a second (PCR) test a few days later.

The venue is once again working with Luxembourg’s Health Inspection and the ministries of culture and health.

“I am hopeful that events like this will help to build towards a model that can be further scaled”

“After more than a year without higher capacity live events, pilot concerts like our Because Music Matters series and other pilot and test events that have been taking place across Europe, are an important and positive step forward in showcasing the safety measures we can employ to support our back to business strategies,” says Olivier Toth, CEO of the Rockhal.

“Building confidence amongst all our stakeholders that live events are a safe environment is so important. It felt great to have our main hall vibrate with the sound of live music and a cheerful crowd. We are grateful for the enthusiasm and participation of both artists and audience, which is a real show of support for our sector.

“As the name of the project suggests, music really does play an essential role in people’s well-being. I am hopeful that events like this, together with other pilot concerts that are taking place throughout Europe, will help to build towards a model that can be further scaled as our industry works towards a safe and sustainable return of live events.”

The second round of Because Music Matters will continue at Rockhal this Friday (4 June) with a performance from Luxembourg’s Remo Cavallini which will take place in the same way as the Serge Tonnar concert.

Pilot projects have taken place in markets including Germany, the UK, Spain, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. See an extensive list of live music experiments here.

 


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Nordic test shows: Too little, too late?

After effectively ruling out the 2021 festival season, the governments in Denmark and Norway are now in the process of organising large-scale test events to determine how big gatherings can take place during the pandemic.

According to Denmark’s live association, Dansk Live, such experiments were proposed in December 2020 and also in March 2021 by the government-backed ‘Restart Team’.

Both proposals were “kicked to the corner by the authorities,” according to Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher, but it seems that Denmark’s minister of culture has had a late change of heart.

This week, minister Joy Mogensen asked the government’s Restart Team to assess the possibilities of conducting experiments with large events this summer.

The minister’s request comes three weeks after the government’s roadmap was published, which stated that a maximum of 2,000 participants will be permitted at festivals between 21 May and 1 August 2021.

The announcement was followed by a raft of cancellations from 15+ festivals including Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June) and Tinderbox (24–26 June) – rendering the country’s 2021 festival season over.

“The hope was that knowledge could be created that could ensure better opportunities for this summer’s events”

While Dansk Live’s Marcher has welcomed the news of potential test concerts, he also expresses disappointment that large-scale pilots weren’t approved earlier in the year.

“Already at the end of 2020, we proposed to the minister of culture that experiments be carried out in events that bring many people together,” he says.

“The hope was that knowledge could be created that could ensure better opportunities for this summer’s events. Although it is positive that there now seems to be support for making trial arrangements, it is, of course, a pity that there has been no political will to launch trials in the past.”

The Norwegian government has also shown little political will to organise test concerts up to this point – though, after some uncertainty, this morning the cabinet finally approved a pilot series proposed by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The institute is planning five test concerts in Bergen and Oslo with up to 5,000 people attending each one. As previously reported in IQ, 15,000 participants will be recruited for a control group and will not actually attend the concerts.

The series is expected to kick off in June and concerts will take place in a number of venues including Oslo Spektrum and Grieg Hall in Bergen.

The Nowegian government this morning approved a pilot series proposed by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health

The research project will investigate whether the risk of the spread of infection is reduced to such an extent that rapid testing can replace the distance requirement during events.

Bergen Live, Øya festival, Palmesus and other Norwegian concert organisers will be involved in the test events – many of which were forced to cancel festivals due to the government’s preliminary guidelines, which restrict festivals to 2,000 attendees until June, 5,000 attendees until August and 10,000 thereafter.

Live Nation-owned festivals Bergenfest and Tons of Rock, Superstruct-backed Øya Festival, Over Oslo, Picnic in the Park, Stavernfetsivalen, Seljord Festival and Country Festival among events have been cancelled since.

Compared with other countries in the northern hemisphere, Norway and Denmark have been slow off the mark with arranging test shows.

Germany began conducting test shows as far back as August 2020, with Restart-19, prompting other nations including Spain, France, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg, to follow suit. See an extensive timeline of pilot projects here.

While the test shows haven’t necessarily guaranteed the security of the 2021 festival season – many of the aforementioned markets have already seen the summer season obliterated due to government restrictions – nations like the UK are surging towards a full reopening thanks to reassuring results from the government’s Events Research Programme.

 


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Fieldlab vouches for 50-75% cap outdoor events

Fieldlab Events, the initiative behind a swathe of test shows in the Netherlands, has told the Dutch government that outdoor events should be allowed to take place at 50-75% of normal visitor capacity without social distancing, under certain measures.

The recommendations are based on the results of Fieldlab’s first outdoor tests, which comprised two football matches with 1,500 spectators each and one with 5,000 spectators.

Research was conducted using Fieldlab’s risk model which is aimed at limiting the residual risk that arises from events and considers factors including visitor behaviour, track and trace, rapid tests, occupancy and social distancing.

Research at three football matches showed that larger outdoor events are possible under the following strict conditions in the current Corona situation:

The cabinet is now consulting with the Outbreak Management Team on the research results

The cabinet is now consulting with the Outbreak Management Team on the research results.

Earlier this month, Fieldlab shared findings from the first part of its Back to Live test series, which involved a business conference and a cabaret show.

The Dutch initiative found that indoor seated events should be able to take place at 50% occupancy without social distancing. See more here.

 


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Belgium holds ‘first-ever cultural test event’

The first-ever Belgian test event took place last night (26 April) at Brussels venue Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS).

The owner of KVS had previously stated that the venue would open its doors on 26 April regardless of any Covid restrictions that might be in place but ultimately, the government decided to turn yesterday evening’s performance of Jonathan into a test event.

All 50 attendees, as well as the KVS employees, had to undergo a rapid test and wear a mask at all times inside the 500-capacity room. They will also be required to take a PCR test the following week.

Tonight, the venue will host an identical test event, before scaling up to 100 attendees from Wednesday onwards.

The following week, the number of attendees will increase again if the air quality monitoring yields good results. On Tuesday 4 May, the hall will be filled to 40%, on Thursday 6 and Saturday 8 May, it will be further scaled up to 50% with a maximum of 250 spectators.

The purpose of the test events is to measure how the air quality in the room is impacted by the presence of an audience

The purpose of the test events is to measure how the air quality in the room is impacted by the presence of an audience. To do this, the CO2 content and the relative humidity are measured every minute with specialised equipment.

If these CO2 values ​​remain good (CO2 below 1200 ppm and relative humidity between 30 and 60 percent), this shows that the chance of transmission of infectious diseases via the air is very low.

At any point in the test series, if the air quality monitoring shows that the risk of airborne contamination is becoming unacceptably high, there will be no further upscaling. The decision will be made at 11 am the day before the performance.

Around 30 test events are planned for the next two months but Belgium’s minister of culture Jan Jambon says that the government will conduct as many as necessary: “As long as we can learn good things from them, that is important, but at a certain point the learning curve stops, and we will the cultural sector.”

Details of the test events are yet to be announced but Belgium’s Corona Commission says they will span culture and sports.

 


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More than 1m registrations for 10k Fieldlab test

More than a million residents have signed up for Fieldlab’s largest test event yet, the 10,000-capacity 538 Koningsdag (King’s Day) festival in the Netherlands.

Registrations opened this week to unprecedented demand and all 10,000 tickets were raffled on Thursday (15 April) evening.

The rock and pop festival, which is organised each year by Radio 538, will be held as usual at Chasséveld in Breda on the 24 April.

Newly announced acts include Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Emma Heesters, Gerard Joling, Kraantje Pappie, Krezip, Kris Kross Amsterdam, Lucas & Steve, Maan, Miss Montreal, Racoon, Rolf and Sanchez.

“Newly announced acts include Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Emma Heesters and Gerard Joling”

Ticket holders will be required to take a rapid test no more than 24 hours prior to the start of the event and only those with negative results will be admitted.

Attendees must also take a second rapid test five days after the event. Vulnerable groups are excluded from participation.

538 Koningsdag is just one of many large-scale test events announced by the Dutch initiative. Yesterday evening the 3FM Awards 2021 took place at TivoliVredenburg, attended by 1,000 visitors.

Other upcoming large-scale Fieldlab events include a Racoon concert on 7 May (3,500 people) and a nightclub test event in Amsterdam on 15 May, which can be attended by 1,000 people.

Alongside the government-approved Fieldlab tests, the state has also announced 80 concerts across nine days as part of an extensive pilot programme of cultural activities – marking a test event boom in the Netherlands.

 


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Fieldlab reveals details on Back to Live pilot festivals

Fieldlab, the organisation spearheading the ‘Back to Live’ test series in the Netherlands, has revealed details on the previously announced open-air festival pilots.

The eight-event test series is being orchestrated with Event Platform, the Alliance of Event Builders and the government to investigate how events with an increased visitor capacity can take place safely and responsibly during the pandemic.

The festival tests are being organised along with Dutch promoters Mojo and ID&T and will take place at the event site in Biddinghuizen – home to festivals such as Defqon.1 and Lowlands.

Fieldlab and Lowlands director, Eric van Eerdenburg, has revealed that the festivals will likely be scheduled for March, kicking off mid-afternoon and running until the early evening in case a curfew is in place.

Eerdenburg also said that each festival will host 1,500 visitors, who will be tested before and after the events, and are required to wear masks for the duration.

Participants will be ‘tagged’ at the entrance and admitted in phases before they’re free to roam the mini-festival, which will include several stages and food trucks.

Fieldlab’s Tim Boersma told 3voor12: “It is not a medical experiment, we will look at contact. Everyone is tagged at the entrance. Not all of those 1,500 people meet, but how many do, and for how long? In which places do crowds arise? Can you solve that by installing more toilet blocks, for example?”

The organisation plans to announce the exact dates for the festival tests next week.

Each festival will host 1,500 visitors, who will be tested before and after the events, and are required to wear masks

The postponed ‘Back to Live’ pilot shows that are scheduled to take place this month include a cabaret performance by Guido Weijers to 500 guests at the Beatrix Theatre in Utrecht (20 February), a business conference at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht (15th) and two football matches at the home grounds of NEC (21st) and Almere City FC (28th).

Details have also been revealed about how the football games will take place. Each match will kick off at 12:15 pm at the respective grounds and will host 1,500 season tickets holders.

For the match at NEC’s home ground, the Goffert Stadium in Nijmegen, the 1,500 attendees will be split into six ‘bubbles’ of 250 for the purpose of the investigation.

For the game at Almere City FC’s home ground, the Yanmar Stadion in Almere, the visitors will be divided into three ‘bubbles’ of 200, 600 and 700 people.

During each type of test event, Fieldlab will study several ‘building blocks’ that contribute to prevention and reduction of the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus including behaviour; triage, tracking and tracing; rapid tests; visitor dynamics; air quality; personal protection; cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and materials; vulnerable groups.

The Back to Live test series will also include a concert and a dance event at Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, also organised by Mojo and ID&T, which are yet to be announced.

 


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Primavera Sound hails successful PRIMACOV trial

Organisers have hailed as a successful the PRIMACOV clinical trial, which took place at Barcelona’s Sala Apolo on Saturday (12 December) after a two-month delay.

Originally organised for October, PRIMACOV – organised by Primavera Sound in association with Hospital Germans Trias in Barcelona and the Fight AIDS and Infectious Diseases Foundation – welcomed 1,042 people to the 1,608-capacity venue for a clinical study designed to show whether rapid testing could hold the key to staging concerts without social distancing.

Everyone who was allowed into the show, which featured performances by local artists including Marta Salicrú, Unai Muguruza, Mujeres and Renaldo and Clara, had had to first test negative for Covid-19 using rapid antigen tests – the results of which were available in 15 minutes – as well as traditional PCR tests.

“The objective of this study is to validate these kind of tests … to be able to carry out events without social distancing”

“That was, precisely, the objective of this study: to validate these kind of tests as an extremely useful tool to be able to carry out any type of event, whether musical or not, without social distancing,” explain the PRIMACOV team.

The show followed a similar trial in Germany, dubbed Restart-19, which found that live shows could take place safely under “specific conditions during a pandemic”. Several ‘Back to Live’ pilot events will also take place in the Netherlands, with the government’s backing, in January.

The results of the PRIMACOV trial will be released in mid-January, according to Primavera Sound, although the festival warns that the results will only be completely accurate if all 1,042 attendees have a second PCR test, on Sunday 20 December.

PRIMACOV is part of Primavera’s Back on Track initiative, which is supported by Live Nation, Universal Music Group, Ticketmaster, Sony Music, promoter Last Tour and collection society SGAE, among others.

 


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