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Catalonia rolls out €8.4m aid package for culture sector

The Catalonian government has announced its first support package for the culture sector, totalling €8.4 million, to benefit companies, performers and live event technicians.

The package contains two lines of subsidies; the first will offer compensation for the operating costs of companies and cultural organisations affected by the pandemic.

While the second will compensate Catalonian artists who were hired for concerts or festivals, inside or outside the autonomous community, but ultimately could not perform due to cancellations.

The maximum amount of the grant is established based on 40% of the fee for each cancelled concert or show that was planned within the framework of a music festival.

The government has also established a €3.6m aid for professionals and technicians in the live events sector who have been affected by the crisis and “could not benefit from the general coverage of the unemployment system due to the peculiarities of their profession, characterized especially by intermittence”.

Those who have had an income of up to €18,555 between January and September will be eligible for a €750 grant until 31 January.

“The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government”

The cultural sector is a pillar of our society and therefore vital for the government,” says prime minister Pedro Sánchez. “We expand the protection of your workers with new measures that will help alleviate the serious consequences of Covid-19. We will continue to defend culture, now more necessary than ever.”

The news comes after months of campaigning, which saw the Spanish production sector take to the streets for national and global #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests, as well as benefit events such as Live Nation Spain’s ‘Crew Nation Presents…’ which raised more than €150,000 for touring crew and staff.

Elsewhere in Spain’s live music sector, struggling venues are preparing for a livestream event dubbed ‘The Last Concert?’ to highlight the severity of the situation facing the country’s cultural facilities, due to ‘lack of action and political will’ from the government.

At least 15 music venues have permanently closed already, according to AP Musicales.

Spain is currently operating under a six-month state of emergency, declared last week by the government, which is set to remain in force until 9 May 2021 with periodic reviews.

The decree will allow Spain’s regional governments to order an overnight curfew to run from 11 pm to 6 am, or to begin and finish an hour earlier or later.

Promoters including Live Nation Spain, Doctor Music, Madness Live and Producciones Animadas have commented on the new wave of measures for IQ.

 


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Artists join call-to-arms for crew support

A number of artists including Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Amy MacDonald, and Marillion, are rallying support for live events technicians who have been financially impacted by the pandemic through fundraising events and memorabilia donations.

Solo artist and ex-One Direction member Niall Horan recently announced a one-off livestream show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 7 November to raise money and awareness for his touring crew.

Amy MacDonald is launching her new album with a socially-distanced show and interview at The Mildmay Club in London, with proceeds going towards the #WeMakeEvents campaign. The event, titled An Evening With Amy MacDonald, will take place on 1 November and be livestreamed from 7 pm GMT.

Elsewhere, 80s rock band Marillion has already raised over £30,000 from the virtual tip jar at their Couch Convention weekend, which they split equally between their 10-man crew.

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” says Andy Lenthall, general manager at PSA, the live production trade association which also runs Stagehand, a live production hardship fund. “There is so much goodwill towards crew that people don’t know about,” he tells IQ.

“It is an ecosystem and artists appreciate they need crew to amplify, magnify and illuminate the shows”

“People say, ‘Why can’t the artists pay?’. Well some of them can, and some of them are, and some of them can’t. It’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do. Artists at the top of the pile work with the same crew a lot and many are supporting them,” he maintains. “It is an ecosystem and artists appreciate they need crew to amplify, magnify and illuminate the shows.”

Lenthall says Stagehand has received many anonymous contributions from artists, in the form of cash and memorabilia. Most recently Nick Cave donated one of his guitars for an upcoming memorabilia raffle, organised by the association.

The raffle, along with Stagehand’s ‘tip the crew’ concept, is part of the fund’s longtail business model based on fan engagement. “Fanbases are where we hope to make lots of small bits,” says Lenthall.

Stagehand has also received donations from companies such as PPL, BPI and Sony – though Lenthall maintains that the fund is a long-term project and will require several different initiatives to raise the money needed.

“It’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do”

“We all know it’s going to take a while for the industry to restart so we need to raise a seven-figure sum and it needs to last around six months,” he says.

The Stagehand fund opened for applications yesterday (15 October) and is initially awarding grants of £500 to help with “keeping a roof over heads and food on the table”.

“Houses are on the market and it’s the beginning of the sofa-surfing season for some people. We’ve opened the fund now because at the end of October rent arrears will be due and the mortgage holiday is over. People will have accumulated a lot of debt over the summer,” Lenthall explains.

However, he’s confident that now some companies have been saved through packages such as the Culture Recovery Fund, attention is turning to crew.

“We need to focus on retaining people. Crew are tenacious, hardworking and diligent. We don’t want to lose them.”

Make a donation to Stagehand here or donate to similar funds supporting live technicians such as #WeMakeEvents; Live Nation’s Crew Nation; and the recently launched hardship fund We Need Crew.

 


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#WeMakeEvents: Global Action Day kicks off

The #WeMakeEvents Global Action Day kicked off in the southern hemisphere earlier today as venues in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were illuminated in red to highlight the urgent support needed for the events sector.

Thousands of venues and places of work across the globe will #LightInRed from 8pm local time in a bid to draw media attention and government support for the industry, which is struggling to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

The #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest first launched in the UK in August and has since been adopted internationally, inspiring similar protests in France, the US, the NetherlandsGermanyBelgium and Spain.

Global Action Day will bring together around 20 countries, each campaigning for different resolutions from their respective governments.

While international lighting company Bandit Lites is lobbying for the Restart Act to be part of the next relief bill, Norway’s National Theatre has called for an extension in the compensation scheme, however, all nations will be united today under the red banner with the hope to progress the sector’s crisis.

“We mark the danger the industry is in after the government’s decision to end the compensation scheme for self-employed,” Norway’s National Theatre said in an Instagram post.

“The scheme introduced in April has so far hit well and ensured that independent art and cultural workers have survived the corona crisis until now. If the government does not turn in the decision, large parts of the industry will be eradicated.”

“The Restart Act as part of the next relief bill is the only thing that will save all of the live events industry. No other act will save us all,” Bandit Lites said in an Instagram post.

“We need [the government] to offer financial support to the crews that actually make it all possible”

Emily Eavis, co-organiser of the UK’s Glastonbury festival says: “We need the government to recognise what the performing arts bring to the fabric of this country, and how much it adds to the well-being of so many.”

“We need them to offer financial support not just to the venues and organisations that put together these performances, but also to the crews that actually make it all possible.”

Coldplay are among the many international artists who have backed the campaign, adding: “Emily Eavis said it perfectly. The live music and events industry has been devastated. We urge the UK government to support all crew and staff who have lost their livelihoods.”

While Radiohead said: “What we do on stage is only part of the equation of putting on a good show. Our crew are at the heart of making it happen for all of us, band and audience alike. They’re incredible and that’s why we’re supporting #WeMakeEvents and invite you to do so as well, if possible.”

Yesterday, the UK held a second, silent and socially distanced, protest under the banner Stand As One, in Parliament Square.

It was also announced yesterday that a number of UK industry professionals are planning to cycle over 1,500 km as part of a charity event dubbed The Survival Tour, organised in support of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

Five professionals from Loud Sound and Proper Productions will cycle from Newcastle to London via over 50 UK venues and festival sites to symbolise what would have been the start of touring season.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup, which supports people who have worked in the entertainment technology industry for at least five years.

Elsewhere, following Spain’s #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert (Alerta Roja) protest last week, the campaigning group has met with the minister for culture and sports to ask for a package of measures to support the country’s struggling production sector.

The meeting, which took place on Monday (28 September), saw minister José Luis Rodríguez Uribes commit to working in coordination with the relevant ministries, public institutions and the sector to find solutions to the crisis.

More highlights from the Global Action Day to follow.

 


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Please don’t let us down, Prime Minister

Dear Boris,

I’m a director of Britannia Row Productions, an audio supply company.

During the past 40 years, we have been privileged to have provided equipment and technicians to many major concert artists, including Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, the Cure, Depeche Mode, Robbie Williams, Simply Red, Mumford and Sons and Harry Styles, and live events such as Her Majesty’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, Live 8, the Barcelona and London Olympics, the Rugby World Cup and the FA Cup finals.

We currently employ around 70 staff and 100 freelance people, with most of our staff currently on furlough.

As well as providing the most state-of-the-art equipment, we supply audio engineers and technicians, and over the years both our company and many of our people have gained an international reputation for excellence in our field.

I, like most of my colleagues who provide these services, prefer to be in the background and have never sought or received assistance from government in the past, but the current crisis in our industry has compelled me to step forward and make a direct and public plea for you to help the hundreds of thousands of people who work in our industry.

Please don’t lay waste to an industry that brings enormous enjoyment to simply being alive

Boris, when you and your colleagues go to a concert, you expect a visual and audio experience to enhance the performance of your favourite performer, but perhaps don’t give much thought as to how all of these amazing visuals and stirring sounds are achieved. Quite rightly, you simply enjoy the moment.

Well, the reality is that behind the scenes, hundreds of people will have made that show possible. The artists, and their managers and production crew, have worked for months with lighting video and audio designers to produce shows that will thrill their fans and ensure concert spend is boosting the economy.

Promoters have been appointed to provide the venues to accommodate these performances.

Service companies have been chosen to provide the production expertise, the equipment, technicians, stagehands, security, catering, etc., etc., to make these events happen safely and seamlessly, every night, and on time.

The skills involved don’t just happen; they take years of training and experience to acquire.

British technicians are famed throughout the world. These skills will be lost if people leave our industry in desperation

British technicians are famed throughout the world. These skills will be lost if people leave our industry in desperation as they seek other work in order to feed themselves and their families.

I often hear you and your colleagues talk of the ‘hard-working’ people in the UK. Well, the people in my industry do work hard and are essential to a sector which contributes literally billions to our economy.

Please, don’t let them down – support them until we can find a way to bring back our live concerts and events. We don’t live by bread alone, as the old saying goes.

Please don’t lay waste to an industry that brings enormous enjoyment to simply being alive.

Bryan Grant

 


Bryan Grant is co-founder and director of Britannia Row Productions.

Spanish gov commits to supporting events sector

Following last week’s #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests in Spain, the campaign group (Alerta Roja) has met with the minister for culture and sports to ask for a package of measures to support the country’s struggling production sector.

The meeting, which took place on Monday (28 September), saw minister José Luis Rodríguez Uribes commit to working in coordination with the relevant ministries, public institutions and the sector to find solutions to the crisis.

The minister pledged to review why professionals in the sector have not yet received benefits and subsidies and to establish financial support for the sector based on what it contributes to the economy, for the approval of general state budgets.

“Almost 3 hours of work with Alerta Roja. We have shared diagnoses and we have agreed on solutions and, above all, we have expressed a common will for dialogue and collaboration. Musicians, public performance artists and technicians need our support and solidarity,” says minister of culture and sports, José Luis Rodríguez Uribes.

The minister has also committed to making progressive steps towards the return to live – in accordance with Covid guidelines and recommendations – and designing a specific plan to support the return of popular culture and festivals.

“We have agreed on ways of solving and, above all, we have expressed a common will for dialogue and collaboration”

Today, he will deliver the conclusions from the meeting to the ministry of labour and the ministry of industry and tourism and organise a meeting with both ministries in the coming days.

The Alerta Roja campaign had previously declined a meeting with the minister of culture and sports, noting that: “We need a meeting with all the ministries involved: culture and sports, labour, industry, tourism, economic affairs and the treasury.”

Monday’s meeting was a result of last Thursday’s protest which saw the Spanish production sector take to the streets to demand “firm, solid and durable foundations” for the future of live events in Spain.

According to the Alerta Roja campaign group, around 20,000 people turned out in 26 Spanish cities. Prominent buildings and venues were illuminated red to raise awareness of the state’s perceived lack of support for the sector during the coronavirus crisis.

Today, around 20 countries will light buildings red and, where possible, hold socially-distanced demonstrations under the #WeMakeEvents banner for a global day of action.

 


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UK industry pros plan #WeMakeEvents charity cycle

A number of UK industry professionals are planning to cycle over 1,500 km as part of a charity event dubbed The Survival Tour, organised in support of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.

Five professionals from Loud Sound and Proper Productions will cycle from Newcastle to London via over 50 UK venues and festival sites to symbolise what would have been the start of touring season.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup, which supports people who have worked in the entertainment technology industry for at least five years.

The ride will commence in Newcastle on 3 October and take place over two weeks, concluding on 18 October in London.

The route is split up into daily stages ranging from 60km to 100km and cyclists will stop off at each venue to encourage media attention.

The cyclists will be followed by a tour bus, sponsored by Crossland, which the team will sleep in each night.

All donations from The Survival Tour will go to #WeMakeEvents charity of choice, Backup

The general public has been invited to ride with the professionals or join them at a venue or the finishing line.

Donations can be made here. Over £4,000 has been raised so far.

The #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protests launched in the UK in August in a bid to draw attention to the struggling freelancers who work across the live events and entertainment sector.

Similar demonstrations have taken place in France, the US, the NetherlandsGermanyBelgium and Spain.

Today the UK is gearing up for round two of its campaign, Stand As One; a silent socially distanced protest which will take place in Parliament Square at 12:30 pm.

Tomorrow (30 September), around 20 countries will light buildings red and, where possible, hold socially-distanced demonstrations under the #WeMakeEvents banner for a global day of action.

 


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#WeMakeEvents: UK industry gears up for round two

The UK events industry will hold a second #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest tomorrow under the banner Stand As One, in a bid to gain sector-specific support from the government.

Last week, the chancellor announced a new Jobs Support Scheme, designed to support industries that are operating at 30-50% of normal capacity.

However, key figures and organisations pointed out that the events sector is currently operating at 1-5% of normal capacity – rendering the scheme useless to the industry.

The industry is also reckoning with the government’s previous announcement of a new 10 pm curfew, lasting for six months, as part of a slate of new restrictions intended to combat a second wave of Covid-19.

“With the increased restrictions that have been announced, it looks unlikely that we will be able to return to work in a financially viable way within the next six months,” says a spokesperson from #WeMakeEvents, Stand As One.

“This means that the majority of businesses in our sector will not be able to generate sufficient revenue to support their contribution towards employees’ salaries, nor will they be able to contract in the huge self-employed community within the industry.”

According to a new report, the night time economy has already taken a severe blow since the new government curfew was enforced, with over 300 businesses reporting a “catastrophic” drop in trade.

“Feedback from over 300 night time economy businesses on Thursday and Friday night across the country reported a catastrophic drop in trade, showing on average 62% down on previous weeks, believed to be solely due to the implementation of the new restrictions,” says the Night Time Industries Association CEO, Michael Kill.

“It looks unlikely that we will be able to return to work in a financially viable way within the next six months”

“Many business operators reported that customers were unwilling to allow the curfew to limit their evenings, and that many were seeking alternative locations to continue there social experience.

“It is very clear that the systematic closure of businesses at the same time has been counterproductive, culminating in overcrowding on public transport and dispersal routes.

“The sector has been very explicit in its feedback to the government regarding the impact of a 10 pm curfew on the night time economy, but we are yet to see the scientific evidence to substantiate the decision to implement this and we feel the sector has been unfairly targeted.”

The silent, socially distanced protest, Stand As One, will take place tomorrow (29 September) at 12:30 pm in Parliament Square.

It is the second #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest to take place in the UK after the initiative launched in August and similar protests have taken place in France, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

On 30 September, around 20 countries will light buildings red and, where possible, hold socially-distanced demonstrations under the #WeMakeEvents banner for a global day of action.

 


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Spain: Catalonia increases concert hall capacities

Following the “red alert” protests which took place across Spain last week, the capacity of cultural spaces in Catalonia has been increased to 70% but will be capped at 1,000 visitors.

The increase from the 50% capacity limit, imposed in the wake of the pandemic, was approved yesterday by the Civil Protection Plan of Catalonia (Procicat).

The news measures will affect Barcelona and 15 municipalities in its metropolitan area, which include venues such as the Gran Teatre del Liceu (2,292), the Auditori ( 2,200), and the Palau de la Música (1,970) – all of which will be impinged by the 1,000-cap limit.

“The maximum number of [guests] leaves us the same as we were”

“That maximum number of spectators leaves us the same as we were. If we cannot put more than 1,000 people in the Liceu, we will stay close to that 50% that we already had,” Valentí Oviedo, general director of the Gran Teatre told El Periodico.

Robert Brufau, head of the Auditori, told El Periodico: “Subscribers have already been warned that it would be difficult to keep the seats that were historically reserved in Room 1. In Room 2, with 586 seats, a greater number of spectators will now be able to enter.”

Last week, some 16,000 live entertainment professionals took to the streets of Spain as part of the increasingly international #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest movement.

Prominent buildings and venues in 28 cities were illuminated red to raise awareness of the state’s perceived lack of support for the sector during the coronavirus crisis.

 


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Spanish protesters declare ‘alerta roja’

The Spanish production sector has become the latest to take to the streets as part of the increasingly international #WeMakeEvents/Red Alert protest movement.

According to the Spanish Association of Music Promoters (APM), yesterday (17 September) saw some 16,000 live entertainment professionals hold protests – while prominent buildings and venues were illuminated red – in 28 cities to raise awareness of the state’s perceived lack of support for the sector during the coronavirus crisis.

The demonstrations, plans for which were announced earlier this month, follow similar protests in France, the US, the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium and Germany. As in Belgium, the Spanish demonstrators flooded the streets with empty flight cases symbolising widespread unemployment among production crews and staff.

Protesters also called for the creation of a pan-industry working group to build “firm, solid and durable foundations for the sector, which needs laws adapted to its special circumstances and particularities”, reports APM, “allowing all those involved to have legal certainty” about the future.

The Alerta Roja (Red Alert) campaign had previously declined a meeting with the minister of culture and sports, noting that: “We need a meeting with all the ministries involved: culture and sports, labour, industry, tourism, economic affairs and the treasury.”

“We, along with everyone who works in the live events sector, are on red alert”

Posting on Twitter, a spokesperson said yesterday had been a historic day for the Spanish live events business.

UK entertainment technology association Plasa, one of the driving forces behind the UK-born #WeMakeEvents campaign, thanked the “global industry community for stepping out of the shadows and calling for further support”.

A statement from the 16,000-capacity WiZink Center in Madrid – normally Spain’s most-visited indoor arena – explained: “Today our facade is lit up red to support the Alerta Roja campaign. Because we, and everyone who works in the live events sector, are on red alert.”


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Red alert: French live business joins campaign

France has become the most recent country to join the UK-born initiative #WeMakeEvents, signalling a “red alert” (alerte rouge) for its entertainment and events industry.

The initiative, which has also been adopted by nations including Spain, the Netherlands and the US, was launched to give visibility to the UK’s struggling events sector and to urge the governments to take action to ensure its survival.

“France is suffering the full brunt of the consequences of Covid-19 threatening entire sectors of activity directly linked to live shows, reads a statement from Synpase, the AV trade union, “foremost among which are events and shows: the first to stop business, and the last to resume…

“The technical providers of live shows and events are today destitute, faced with a collapse in their turnover”

“The companies represented by Synpase are today destitute, faced with a collapse in their turnover of 80% on average in 2020, and with the greatest uncertainties for the start of the coming year. [The impact of Covid-19] threatens their survival, as well as that of the tens of thousands of jobs that compose them.”

France’s ‘red alert’ is taking place between 14–18 September with the support of the public authorities, technical service providers and manufacturers.

Distributors will light their company buildings in red, as well as public and private buildings in Paris, Marseille, Strasbourg, Tours, Orleans, Tourcoing and other French cities.

On 30 September, all eight countries that have previously been involved in the campaign will unite under the #WeMakeEvents banner for a global day of action.

Similar initiatives have taken place across Europe including Germany’s Night of Light and Belgium’s Sound of Silence.

 


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