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The O2 to stock Ukraine lager to support appeal

Budweiser Brewing Group (BBG) is bringing Ukraine beer brand Chernigivske to The O2 in London to support the humanitarian relief effort in Ukraine.

The O2 has been named as the first UK on-trade partner and venue stockist for the traditional Ukrainian lager through the venue’s long-term partnership with Budweiser, which is part of its official beer partner AB InBev.

The move forms part of a wider initiative from AB InBev, which has pledged to donate at least $5 million to designated non-governmental organisations, including Caritas International, to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine.

“We’re delighted to be supporting such a worthy initiative”

“We’re delighted to be supporting such a worthy initiative alongside our long-term partner AB InBev, as well as Levy UK, and bringing Chernigivske to fans visiting The O2 arena,” says Laura Palairet, senior partnerships director at The O2. “As a business, we’re continually looking for ways that we can make a difference and are proud to be working with partners who share this mission.”

In addition, The O2, in conjunction with the venue’s catering partner Levy UK and AB InBev, will be making a donation from every drink sold at the venue to go towards charitable causes with the aim of providing essential humanitarian relief.

“I’m proud that we can leverage our expertise, scale and ecosystem to support humanitarian relief efforts by introducing Chernigivske in the UK,” adds Anna Rudenko, marketing director of Chernigivske, Ukraine. “We are thrilled that Chernigivske will be available at The O2, offering our consumers the opportunity to directly contribute to this effort.”

Cans of Chernigivske feature the Ukrainian flag on their packaging and are available to purchase at The O2 until September.

 


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Billie Eilish announces climate-focused event

Billie Eilish has announced multi-day climate-focused event Overheated in collaboration with Support + Feed and environmental nonprofit Reverb.

The event set to take place across six days  – 10-12, 16 and 25-26 June – at The O2 in London during Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, The World Tour dates at the venue.

Fresh after last week’s Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), Overheated will bring together climate activists, musicians and designers to discuss the climate crisis, and their efforts to make a difference. Topics will range from greening practices in the music industry to the benefits of a plant-based diet, and sustainable fashion.

“We are thrilled to be in London and to have this opportunity to connect and discuss different ways we can take action to mitigate the climate crisis,” says Maggie Baird, founder of Support+Feed.

“We’re excited to empower even more people to take significant climate action and engage the music industry to do more”

Each day will feature unique programming including panel discussions, live performances, a documentary viewing, and opportunities for the public to take climate action. The cross-campus event will kick off on Friday, 10 June with Overheated Live – a panel event at Indigo at The O2, featuring introductions by Billie Eilish and Finneas and a special keynote speaker to be announced.

A Music Climate Session on 16 June, meanwhile, will feature representatives from Reverb, The Big Climate Thing, A Greener Festival, Julie’s Bicycle, Beggars Group, Live Nation, Earth/Percent, Tour Production Group and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. It will also see performances by Sigrid and Love Ssega, with others to be confirmed.

“Building upon our sustainability work on Billie’s world tour, and engaging fans at her shows to take climate action, we’re excited to empower even more people to take significant climate action and engage the music industry to do more through Overheated,” adds Reverb co-founder Adam Gardner.

The takeover will also include special screenings of the new Overheated short documentary at Cineworld at The O2 throughout the full six-day period, while all visitors to The O2 will have the opportunity to experience the free Citizen-TPlayground, which will feature a free clothes swap as well as talks from fashion sustainability experts, at the All Bar One Space from 10-12 June.

 


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The O2 promotes Christian D’Acuña to senior role

The O2 (cap. 21,000) in London has promoted Christian D’Acuña from director to senior director of programming (UK).

D’Acuña’s new position, which took effect earlier this year, sees him continue to lead programming at the O2 alongside Emma Bownes.

He will also join Steve Homer’s team at AEG Presents and oversee the programming initiatives of the three AEG Presents venues: the O2 (including indigo), Eventim Apollo, and Wolverhampton Civic Halls.

Emma Bownes, VP of venue programming (Europe) at The O2, says: “Christian’s combination of tenacity and passion for music has been pivotal in the development of our event programming at the O2.

“He is extremely well-liked and respected in the industry, and I am delighted that he will using his considerable experience to support the teams at indigo at The O2, Eventim Apollo, and Wolverhampton Civic Halls.”

“He is extremely well-liked and respected in the industry”

Christian D’Acuña has worked at the O2 since 2012 when he joined as programming assistant.

Commenting on his promotion, D’Acuña says: “I’m really excited to have been given the opportunity to work on a broader range of AEG venues in the UK in addition to the O2, and am looking forward to working alongside the great teams we have at Eventim Apollo and indigo at the O2.

“I can’t wait for the reopening of the legendary Civic Halls and The Wulfrum in Wolverhampton in early 2023, where we are already working with promoters and agents on an exciting calendar of events.”

The O2 is due to celebrate its 15th birthday this year and will host 200 events from artists including Dua Lipa, Little Mix, Billie Eilish, Queen + Adam Lambert and Kings of Leon.

 


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UK gears up for Country to Country festival return

The Country to Country (C2C) festival is set to make its grand return to the UK and Ireland this weekend for the first time since 2019.

Luke Combs, Darius Rucker and Miranda Lambert headline the event, Europe’s biggest country music festival, which will be held at The O2 in London, 3Arena in Dublin and Glasgow’s OVO Hydro from 11-13 March.

C2C’s was one of the first music events to fall victim to the pandemic in March 2020, while last year’s festival was also cancelled for the same reason.

“We’re really excited about C2C, it’s one of the favourite events of the year for our staff,” The O2’s GM and VP Steve Sayer tells IQ. “It’s built over many years now to be the premier country music event in the UK and outside the US, frankly. And having lost it just before Covid was breaking way back in March 2020, and then not being able to get it on last year, to get that one away this year is a major plus for everybody.”

Promoted by SJM Concerts, AEG Presents and DF Concerts in association with the Country Music Association, the event launched in London in 2013 and has showcased country stars such as Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves and Chris Stapleton, as well as emerging talent.

In addition to its Scotland and Ireland legs, the festival brand has expanded to other European countries over the years, with additional dates in Sweden and Norway in 2015, and the Netherlands, Germany and Australia in 2019.

“Some of the onsales for later this year have just started to get back to normal levels”

The O2 will host more than 100 performances over the weekend, with C2C ticket holders able to access The Town Square, The Big Entrance, BBC Radio 2 Stage (at Indigo at The O2), Country Music Week Hub and The Saloon (All Bar One), The Icon Stage and The Garden Stage, while all visitors to the venue can access the free stages.

“Fortunately, the event will happen,” adds Sayer. “We’ve had to pivot slightly, but all of the stages are going to be in place and all the programming outside of the arena is in place. We’ve got three near sell-out crowds and it’s going to be a brilliant atmosphere.”

Sayer also reports that no-show rates – a hot topic for venues since reopening last year – were improving at the arena.

“We’re still seeing some no shows, more than we would see in a non-Covid year, but that’s definitely coming back round,” he says. “Fans are coming back in and they’re really up for a big night. They have pent up energy that they want to release. We’re still seeing quite strong numbers on F&B sales, stronger than pre-pandemic and that seems to be continuing for now.

“You will still see some fans wearing face coverings, but I think the majority feel much more comfortable and much safer now. We’re definitely seeing consumer confidence starting to return. Some of the onsales for later this year have just started to get back to normal levels, so it’s starting to return to normality.”

 


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The O2’s Steve Sayer on arena’s ‘fantastic’ return

The O2’s Steve Sayer is tipping 2023 to be an even bigger year for live music as the business edges back towards normality following the Covid shutdown.

The 20,000-cap, AEG-operated London venue, which hosted the UK’s annual BRIT Awards on 8 February, reopened last Friday with a concert by UB40 featuring Ali Campbell after being closed for a week due to damage caused by Storm Eunice.

And despite the industry enduring a slightly slow start to Q1 due to the spread of the Omicron variant, the arena’s VP and GM tells IQ it is now all systems go.

“The BRITs was really the kickstart for us at The O2,” says Sayer, who succeeded John Langford in the role in 2018. “A week or so later, we were naturally concerned about whether the impact [of the storm damage] was going to go on longer than we thought, but it’s just getting busier and busier from here on in.

“We’re getting back to what The O2 has done for many years, which is six or seven shows a week, back-to-back, for the next few weeks. Dave doing two shows this week has been fantastic – a London artist coming through and headlining his first two shows at The O2 was a major milestone – but we’ve got many more to come.”

Superstar artists set to play the venue in the coming months include Stormzy, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Queen + Adam Lambert and Alicia Keys, while Justin Bieber, Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne and Shawn Mendes are already announced for next year.

“A lot of rescheduled events from the last couple of years have dropped into this year, but we’ve got new shows getting announced all the time and Q4 looks strong,” says Sayer. “It’s been difficult getting dates, not just at The O2, but across the board, and we’ve also got a lot of content already lined up for 2023.

“I think 2023 is probably going to be a bigger year than 2022. We all thought that ’22 would be the record year and the recovery year, and I still think it’ll be a really strong year in terms of the event count and the calibre of the artists playing. But hopefully, from here on in, we’re looking at 18 to 24 months of really strong, bumper content.”

On 18 February, an estimated 1,000 people were evacuated from the Greenwich complex, which also boasts the Up at The O2 attraction, the Icon Outlet shopping centre, a cinema and the 2,800-cap Indigo at The O2, after one of the worst storms to hit the UK in decades ripped a hole in the venue’s iconic roof.

Two shows by Dave set for 21-22 February were rescheduled for the following week but, despite initial concerns, all other gigs in the main arena have been able to proceed as planned.

“We’re in the events business and the one thing we’re great at is keeping the show on the road”

“It was a huge relief to be back up and running after various lockdowns and the impact of that on the arena for the best part of two years,” reflects Sayer. “So to then get the call that part of the tent had torn in the wind wasn’t the best news to get on a Friday,” says Sayer. “At that point, we really didn’t know how long it was going to take, but it was a monumental team effort.

“We had to move on our feet for the first 24 to 36 hours to really understand what it was we were dealing with. But by the Sunday, we were confident that we would be at least partially open within a week if we could create a safe passage for fans using Entrance H, because it was around that area where the roof has been damaged.”

He continues: “We brought in a number of construction experts and structural engineer expertise right away and worked to make the site safe and get back open within just under a week, which was an incredible achievement and a massive tonic for us all.

“There was always going to be speculation that it could be longer and we took a lot of calls from a number of very worried promoters and agents asking, ‘What’s happening with our show? Can you confirm it’s definitely going ahead?’ And we were able to reassure all of those clients quite quickly that it wouldn’t be a long closure, because the arena hasn’t been impacted at all, we just needed to create that safe passage. Fans coming to the Dave shows on Monday and Tuesday experienced that for the first time and it worked pretty well.

“We got a lot of messages of support from across the industry – and some practical support from Dave’s team, who actually had to move two other shows to accommodate moving the two shows at The O2, so I’d like to place on record my thanks to everybody involved in that.”

Other upcoming events over the next couple of weeks include Simply Red (2-3 March), The Lumineers (4 March), Davido (5 March) and the return of the Country to Country festival (11-13 March).

“Fundamentally, we’re in the events business and the one thing we’re great at is keeping the show on the road,” adds Sayer. “After the past couple of years, it was imperative that we did that and everybody at The O2 pulled together to make happen.”

 


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The O2 confirms reopening plans

London’s The O2 has confirmed it will reopen tomorrow (25 February) – a week after closing due to damage caused by Storm Eunice.

An estimated 1,000 people were evacuated from the AEG-operated building last Friday after Eunice – one of the worst storms hit the UK in decades – ripped a hole in its exterior tent fabric.

Two dates by Dave, set for 21-22 February, have been rescheduled to 28 February/1 March but all other shows are proceeding as planned, starting with UB40 featuring Ali Campbell (25 February), after rigorous safety checks deemed the venue safe, secure and structurally sound.

The O2’s Entertainment District and visitor attraction, Up at The O2, will also reopen tomorrow, while Indigo at The O2, which is also located within the Greenwich complex, will reopen for live events from Saturday (26 February).

“Safety will always be our number one priority”

“Confirming our reopening after such a short closure is a huge testament to everyone who is working so hard to get us open again,” says Steve Sayer, VP & General Manager of The O2. “Safety will always be our number one priority and as a venue, we have always been proud of the standards we hold and delivering a best in class fan and artist experience. On behalf of The O2, I would like to thank our partners, the industry, our staff and all the fans for their support and patience.”

Although the hole in the fabric caused by Storm Eunice will remain visible for some time while a permanent solution is put into place, the damage is said to be limited to an isolated area within The O2’s Icon Outlet shopping centre. The section in question will remain closed while essential works continue.

The venue says a “monumental effort “has been made to secure the site over the past few days. The O2 has engaged a team of experts including the structural engineers who originally worked on the building design to address the required repairs. To allow guests who are visiting the arena to enter and exit the venue safely, protected from the elements, a new entrance tunnel has now been constructed by Entrance H.

The O2 will host the Country to Country festival from 11-13 March, and has other shows lined up for 2022 by the likes of Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Celine Dion and Queen & Adam Lambert.

 


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The O2 closed until 25 February after storm damage

The O2 is set to remain closed until Friday (25 February) after its roof was damaged in one of the UK’s worst storms to hit the UK in decades.

Chart-topping rapper Dave’s scheduled two-night stand at the 20,000-cap London arena, set for 21-22 February, has been postponed but all other upcoming shows are currently expected to go ahead as planned, starting with UB40 featuring Ali Campbell on 25 February. Events at the 2,800-cap Indigo at The O2, situated within the Greenwich complex, are also due to resume on Friday.

An estimated 1,000 people were evacuated from the AEG-operated building last Friday (18 February) afternoon after Storm Eunice ripped a hole in its exterior tent fabric. Images and footage posted on social media highlighted the extent of the damage.

“The O2 prides itself on being a venue full of entertainment but following Friday’s storm, we’re not quite looking our best,” says a statement from the venue. “We want to continue to provide a safe and secure best-in-class experience for our visitors, so we have made the decision to remain closed until Friday 25 February to give us time to carry out some necessary works on our roof.

“If you have tickets for an upcoming show at the arena, rest assured that we are working hard to make our venue ready and we’re almost there”

“If you have tickets for an upcoming show at the arena, rest assured that we are working hard to make our venue event ready and we’re almost there. For Dave ticket holders, an update on the rescheduled dates will be announced in the in the next 48 hours, please hold on to your tickets, as they will remain valid for the new shows.

“We’d like to thank everyone for all the support we have received. We can’t wait to welcome artists and guests back as soon as possible.”

London Fire Brigade was called to the “partial roof collapse” just before 1.30pm on Friday.

“Firefighters cordoned off the area to ensure no one was injured by any further falling debris,” said station commander Chris Kamara. “There has been no actual collapse or structural damage to the building, but due to the nature of the canvas material which covers The O2, it has come loose in high winds and looks quite dramatic.”

Three people died across the UK during Storm Eunice and more than 75,000 homes still have no power. Another storm – named Franklin – is forecast to hit the UK imminently, although wind gusts from Storm Franklin are expected to be lower than Eunice which triggered two red weather warnings.

“Following the significant impacts of Storm Eunice on Friday, Storm Franklin will bring further high winds for many late on Sunday and into Monday, although not on the same scale as Eunice,” says Met Office chief meteorologist Andy Page.

 

 


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The O2’s roof shredded as Storm Eunice batters UK

The roof of The O2 in London has been severely damaged by the worst storm to hit the UK in three decades.

Storm Eunice has ripped a hole in the exterior panels of the AEG-operated building, which opened as the Millennium Dome in 1999 and was reborn as a multi-purpose arena in 2007.

A red weather warning – meaning a risk to life – is currently in place for London and other parts of the UK. Wind gusts in the most exposed coastal areas could be in excess of 90mph, according to the Met Office.

“Due to today’s adverse weather conditions, we can confirm that there has been some damage caused to the tent fabric in our roof at The O2,” says a statement from the venue. “The affected areas have been cleared and The O2 will remain closed for the rest of the day. The safety of our visitors remains of paramount importance, and we will continue to assess the ongoing situation and act accordingly.”

An estimated 1,000 people were evacuated from the Greenwich complex, which also houses a shopping centre, a cinema and the 2,800-cap Indigo at The O2, but no injuries were reported. Images and footage posted on social media highlight the extent of the damage.

“Crews have made the scene safe and The O2 is now closed until further notice”

London Fire Brigade was called to the “partial roof collapse” just before 1.30pm today (18 February).

“Firefighters cordoned off the area to ensure no one was injured by any further falling debris,” says station commander Chris Kamara. “There has been no actual collapse or structural damage to the building, but due to the nature of the canvas material which covers The O2, it has come loose in high winds and looks quite dramatic.

“Crews have made the scene safe and The O2 is now closed until further notice.”

There is no word as of yet on whether any shows will be affected by the situation. Dave is the next artist due to start a two-night stand at the 20,000-cap arena next week (21-22 February). Other upcoming events over the next few weeks include UB40 featuring Ali Campbell (25 February), Simply Red (2-3 March), The Lumineers (4 March), Davido (5 March) and the Country to Country festival (11-13 March). A Fugees gig, originally planned for tonight, was cancelled last month due to Covid concerns.

Red weather warnings are rarely issued by the Met Office. The most recent warning coincided with Storm Arwen in November 2021, with the last one before that for wind coming in March 2018.

“The red warning areas indicate a significant danger to life as extremely strong winds provide the potential for damage to structures and flying debris,” says Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen. “Although the most exposed coastal areas could see gusts in excess of 90mph, winds will remain notably strong further inland, with gusts of between 60-70mph for most within the amber warning area, and up to 80mph in a few places.”

 


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Friday round-up: World news in brief 7/1/22

Welcome to IQ‘s weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…

MEXICO:

Dead & Company and promoter CID Presents have cancelled their Playing in the Sand destination festival less than 24 hours before it was due to take place. The annual event had been set for Riviera Cancun over two weekends from 7-10 and 13-16 January, but has been axed due to a spike in Covid cases. “Dead & Company and CID Presents tried everything possible to bring normalcy and to deliver a great experience and amazing music, but with each day it became increasingly clear that cancelling is the correct thing to do for the fans and for our crew,” says a statement on the band’s Instagram page.  Dead & Company frontman John Mayer had earlier pulled out of the festival after testing positive for coronavirus.

UNITED STATES:

A woman has filed a lawsuit against California’s The Forum, promoter Live Nation and ticketing platforms Ticketmaster and StubHub, alleging she was injured in a crowd crush at a Harry Styles concert at the venue in December 2019. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, the plaintiff claims the venue, promoters and ticketing services “failed to provide sufficient seating, lighting, security, supervision and crowd control”.

UNITED STATES:

A US judge rejected Goldenvoice’s bid to extend a restraining order against Live Nation in its trademark infringement lawsuit over a rival music event called ‘Coachella Day One 22’. The event’s promoter, Native American Tribe Twenty-Nine Palms, was not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit after claiming sovereign immunity, but Live Nation was accused of “contributory infringement” due to tickets for the New Year’s Eve event being sold on Ticketmaster. The event listing had already been changed to ‘Day One 22’ on Ticketmaster, which was permitted to continue selling tickets for the festival after the judge concluded it was no longer directly infringing the Coachella trademark. Tribal chairman Darrell Mike praised the ruling as “a win for the tribe, the community and our ticketing partners at Live Nation”.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Bengi Ünsal, head of contemporary music at London’s Southbank Centre, is switching to The Institute of Contemporary Arts in March as its new director. Ünsal was artistic and managing director of Istanbul’s Salon IKSV venue prior to joining the Southbank Centre in 2016, where she has overseen the annual Meltdown festival with guest curators MIA, Robert Smith and Nile Rodgers. This year’s Grace Jones-helmed edition is set for June.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Well-being organisation Music & You has teamed up with beauty cosmetics firm Lush, entrepreneur Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, and mental health campaign #IAmWhole to create a fund providing free therapeutic support to people who are working, or used to work, in the live music sector pre-pandemic. To apply, individuals should complete this application form by no later than midnight on Thursday, 20 January. Applicants will be notified of a decision by 22 January.

UNITED STATES:

TodayTix Group has acquired live events ticketing platform Goldstar. The deal marks the latest move for TodayTix, which has been on an acquisition spree since 2020,  purchasing four companies including theatre specialist Show-Score; London-based Encore and Broadway Roulette.“We are focused on unlocking as much potential as we can so when the industry returns we can be a big part of its recovery,” the company’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Fenty, tells Variety. “We are live events purists through and through. We really do believe that despite the toll of the pandemic, there’s going to be a Roaring ’20s. We believe that people are desperate for arts and culture and are eager to get back into theatres.”

UNITED KINGDOM:

Britvic has been named as The O2’s new Official Soft Drinks partner in a five-year deal, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, with Pepsi Max served and seen across the London venue. The partnership will mean pouring and supply rights across all bars at Indigo at The O2 and concourse bars, suites and premium bars including The Deck, AMEX Lounge, O2 Blueroom and Sky Backstage bars at The O2 arena. The deal will also welcome a takeover of the level 1 bar which is to be rebranded as The London Essence Company bar. In addition, Britvic will have activation opportunities at the venue and access to tickets for Up at The O2 ­ for promotional use. Meanwhile, Birmingham-based NEC Group has announced a multi-year deal with Molson Coors Beverage Company, which is responsible for a portfolio that includes Pravha, Staropramen, Rekorderlig and Coors. The deal will see Pravha being named as the official beer of Utilita Arena Birmingham and Resorts World Arena with bars across both venues carrying the Pravha branding.

UNITED STATES:

Dice has ramped up its North American expansion by becoming the ticketing partner of the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival. The partnership will see the events, which will be held in Rhode Island in July, offer digital ticketing for the first time. “Every year of the event, we work with our partners to innovate beyond traditional ticketing,” says Newport Folk executive producer Jay Sweet. “In a year where fans deserve to get out and go see the music they love, we know Dice is the right partner to make things as easy as possible, fair, transparent and intuitive for our Newport Family. We want these tickets in the hands of our fans and not on the secondary market.”

 


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The New Bosses: Remembering the class of 2021

The 14th edition of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses celebrated the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business.

The New Bosses 2021 honoured no fewer than a dozen young executives, as voted by their colleagues around the world.

The 14th edition of the annual list inspired the most engaged voting process to date, with hundreds of people taking the time to submit nominations.

The year’s distinguished dozen comprises promoters, bookers, agents, entrepreneurs and more, all involved in the international business and each of whom is making a real difference in their respective sector.

In alphabetical order, the New Bosses 2021 are:

Subscribers can read full interviews with each of the 2021 New Bosses in issue 103 of IQ Magazine.

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

 


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