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Debut IPM Says! panel highlights live’s resilience

The inaugural virtual ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) panel, IPM Says!, took place last week, with eight live event production professionals coming together to discuss positive ways of moving forward from the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

IPM’s Carl A H Martin chaired the panel, entitled It Ain’t All Doom and Gloom, which reflected on the resilience of the industry, the creativity of those within it and the road to recovery.

ITB agent Steve Zapp stressed that different markets were moving at different speeds, with “very little” currently possible in the UK. However, whereas the earlier weeks of the crisis had been characterised by cancellations and postponements, conversation has now turned to recovery.



Andy Lenthall from trade association Production Services Association (PSA) said while members were currently doing little in live events, the organisation has been busy helping them to navigate this “temporary normal” and “helping people to help themselves”.

“I have faith in an industry that is resilient and full of resolve to get back to work,” said Lenthall, who stated he was looking forward to the release of UK government guidance on how to get back to work safely.

For Sarah Hemsley-Cole, company director of Cardiff-based SC Productions, work has not fully come to a halt, with the company getting involved in various products, including helping to set up a makeshift field hospital at the Principality Stadium.

“I have faith in an industry that is resilient and full of resolve to get back to work”

Vatiswa Gilivane, business development manager at the 20,000-capacity Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, said her team has also found alternative ways of working, with events still prohibited in South Africa.

“We had to change the way we think,” said Gilivane. “We could no longer rely on others to bring us opportunities, but had to use our own expertise and start creating our own content.”

Máté Horváth from Hungary’s DDW Music said things are opening up in the country for open-air shows, with some venues now also beginning to open up in different ways, acting as beer gardens, for example, in order to generate some revenue.

The ban on large-scale events in Hungary expires on 15 August, said Horváth , “so there could be some major festivals going ahead after this date, with a line-up of domestic acts”.

In general, shows are being moved to 2021, added Horvath, and although this may be a less optimistic scenario, “it is much more secure” and likely to be better for the industry in the long run.

Alberto Artese from Italian industry organisation Assomusica said that live shows will be permitted again in Italy in the next week “but there will be many rules”. From 15 June, 1,000 fans will be allowed at open-air shows and 200 people – including staff and artists – at indoor shows.

“We could no longer rely on others to bring us opportunities, but had to use our own expertise and start creating our own content”

The viability of capacity limits and social distancing measures was a talking point for panellists, with many stressing the importance of proper collaboration between the industry and national governments.

ASM Global’s Paul Sergeant OBE spoke of the newly formed Live Entertainment Industry Forum in Australia, which acts as a conduit between the live industry and the government, developing a way to safely reopen events.

Neighbouring New Zealand is lifting all restrictions on live events this week, focusing on contact tracing to prevent outbreaks of the virus, rather than relying on social distancing measures. “We’d like to think Australia might follow suit in the not too distant future,” said Sergeant.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the UK has similarly asked for industry input on how to reopen safely, said Lenthall.

“Every government around the world sees the value of live events, but we are going to be the last to reopen as we are the most challenging environment.”

Lenthall stressed that social distancing cannot be a financially viable solution for live events. “Globally, we will see a different approach that doesn’t include distancing.”

“Every government around the world sees the value of live events, but we are going to be the last to reopen as we are the most challenging environment”

Zapp agreed that alternative forms of live shows, such as drive-ins, behind-closed-doors concerts and pay-per-view virtual events, while “great as a one-off” have a “lesser impact” over time.

For Zapp, one of the most encouraging things throughout the crisis has been the “incredibly low” number of refund requests, which indicates that fans are keen to get back to events and has helped to avoid “massive problems” with cash flow.

Chrissy Uerlings of Germany’s CU Production Gmbh summed up much of what had been said, pointing out that problem solving and coming up with creative solutions had become key, something that the live industry has always excelled at.

“We have to be smart and it was clear that, for many of us as freelancers, we had to do this on our own.

“If you let loose, then you have two hands free – and that makes you creative.”

IPM Says! will be back next month, with full details available on the IPM LinkedIn page and the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) Facebook page in due course.

 


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Ticketmaster signs O2 Arena Prague

Ticketmaster Czech Republic has become the preferred ticketing partner of O2 Arena Prague, in a significant deal that sees the company edge closer to local dominance.

Owned and operated by Bestsport, O2 Arena Prague is the largest indoor arena in the Czech Republic, with a capacity of 18,000. Starting from this month, tickets for all upcoming events, including concerts, sporting fixtures and other entertainment events, will be sold via Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster entered the Czech market in early 2017 with the acquisition of Serge Grimaux’s Ticketpro. According to the International Ticketing Yearbook (ITY) 2018, Ticketpro/Ticketmaster is the second-largest primary ticket seller in the Czech Republic, after Ticketportal, which currently holds the O2 Arena contract.

“Among the key prizes in the Czech Republic is the contract of the 18,000-seat O2 Arena, opened in 2004 and owned by PPF Group’s Bestsport,” the ITY reads. “Ticketportal is the incumbent, and the arena keeps Prague firmly on the European circuit, with Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Eros Ramazzotti and local star Ben Cristovao on the calendar for 2019.”

While tickets will be still be allocated to Ticketportal, Ticketmaster becomes the official, preferred partner of the arena.

The O2 welcomed its ten-millionth visitor earlier this year, after a huge 2018 which saw concerts by Metallica, Depeche Mode and Imagine Dragons and sporting events such as FED Cup tennis and the IFF floorball championship.

“Ticketmaster was a natural choice for us, and our partnership will create many fantastic opportunities”

“Partnering with one of the country’s biggest and most innovative venues is hugely exciting for us, and a significant moment in our development following our launch in the Czech Republic two years ago,” says Simona Matějková, managing director of Ticketmaster Czech Republic (Ticketmaster Česká republika).

“As the O2 Arena Prague prepares to play host to some of the biggest names in music and sport in the coming months, we are looking forward to working with the venue and Bestsport to provide a simple and seamless experience for fans looking to buy tickets to some amazing events.”

Ticketmaster has already begun working with Bestsport, selling tickets for events hosted at the new O2 Universum, the O2 Arena’s multi-purpose next door neighbour, which is due to open in September 2019. The Universum can accommodate up to 4,500 visitors in its largest hall, with an overall capacity of 10,000 visitors using the space of all 21 halls.

Robert Schaffer, chairman of the Board and the CEO of Bestsport and O2 Arena Prague, comments: “As one of the most recognised global ticketing platforms, Ticketmaster was a natural choice for us, and our partnership will create many fantastic opportunities.

“Ticketmaster’s market-leading technology will help to simplify the process of selling tickets to fans at home and abroad, and opens up new possibilities in terms of promotion and exposure of the many exciting events we host at the O2 Arena Prague to audiences around the world.”

 


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Ticketmaster acquires Czech Republic’s Ticketpro

Ticketmaster has acquired Czech primary ticket agency Ticketpro.

Ticketpro, founded in 1992, is based chiefly in the Czech Republic and Poland, and has also licensed its TicketSoft software to agencies internationally, including in Hungary, Belarus and Chile.

The acquisition will, says global market leader Ticketmaster, offer it the “opportunity to extend its international ticketing business activities into another key central European market […] as well as complement the development of its existing business in neighbouring Poland”.

“The live entertainment industry continues to flourish,” says Ticketmaster International president Mark Yovich. “There are more events taking place and artists on the road than ever before, coupled with increasing demand from fans across the world. Acquiring Ticketpro enables us to better service our clients in central Europe while providing a world-class service to the many fans in these countries.”

“This is an exciting time for the business and the live entertainment industry in this part of the world”

Serge Grimaux (pictured), the outgoing CEO of Ticketpro, adds: “Having started our business in the Czech Republic, Ticketpro has established a proven track record in Central Europe and many emerging markets around the world. Combining this with Ticketmaster’s global scale and reach will ensure that Ticketpro continues to provide an even better experience to its current fans, while attracting considerably more.

“This is an exciting time for the business and the live entertainment industry in this part of the world. For me, it is the end of a ticketing journey which has lasted over 25 years.”

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2016, Ticketpro rival Ticketportal is currently the largest ticketing company in the Czech Republic, “thanks largely to its exclusive deal with the O2 Arena in Prague”.

 


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