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Rebecca Kane Burton: “Socially distanced venues don’t work”

Beverley Knight’s landmark 23 July show at the London Palladium was a “blessed relief” for everyone involved – but it also showed that socially distanced concerts aren’t viable for the vast majority of music venues, according to Rebecca Kane Burton, CEO of West End venue chain LW Theatres.

British soul singer Knight played to a crowd of around 640 – some 30% of the Palladium’s normal capacity – as part of government-backed ‘pilot’ scheme designed to how venues might operate with social distancing ahead of the planned return of indoor shows on 1 August (now pushed back to at least the 15th). A second pilot event took place at another London venue, the the 1,250-capacity Clapham Grand, on 28 July, with Frank Turner playing to a 20% full room.

“The most horrible thing about the past 19 weeks has been not being able to open these doors,” Kane Burton, reflecting on the Palladium pilot event, tells IQ. “The excitement and thrill of working with my team again to put on that show was a blessed relief.”

Kane Burton (pictured) is full of praise for both Knight and the Palladium team, describing the former as the perfect performer given the circumstances.

“Not many people would be ballsy enough to get on stage with the room only 30% full,” she says, “but Beverley did it with gusto – she got everyone up on their feet dancing, which in turn made people feel like they were allowed to enjoy themselves.”

“The excitement and thrill of working with my team again was a blessed relief”

As for the LW/Palladium team, the message from Public Health England was that “they couldn’t find one flaw” in how the show – which featured temperature checks and a host of hygienic gadgetry – was organised.

However, while she says she considers the Palladium show a success, Kane Burton – like Ally Wolf from the Clapham Grand – is clear that it should not be used a blueprint for how live events may reopen safely in the UK.

For a start, both shows lost money – “Normally the ratio of staff to customers [at the Palladium] is 1:40,” explains Kane Burton, “but for Beverley Knight, it was 1:10; no promoter is going to pay for that” – and while Knight did her best, even the PHE officials present noticed the lack of atmosphere present with a sparse, mask-wearing audience.

“Socially distanced venues don’t work,” says Kane Burton. With a 70% empty venue, “you’re not allowed to have that moment of escapism” that comes with seeing a show at a packed venue, as the Knight gig showed, she adds.

“To get an atmosphere you need to fill the place to the rafters. That’s how you get a rocking Palladium, and that’s how you bring venues back to life.”

Knight agrees. “I would not encourage any performer to step inside an auditorium where they’re playing to 30% capacity,” she tells IQ. “Financial considerations aside, that energy that you need isn’t there.

“To get an atmosphere you need to fill the place to the rafters”

“And equally for the audience listening: they appreciated what we’re doing on stage but they didn’t feel ‘in’ the gig. The euphoria wasn’t there.”

Along with much of the UK live music industry, Kane Burton is now pushing the British government for a reopening date for non-socially distanced shows, as well as working with PHE to develop guidance for post-Covid-19 performing arts.

While the Beverley Knight show didn’t provide a roadmap for the future of live in the UK, it did signal to the rest of the concert business that venues are pushing hard to reopen when they’re allowed, concludes Kane Burton.

“We wanted to send a message to all promoters and agents that we, as a venue industry, are not resting on our laurels,” she says. “We’re here in the trenches, and everything we’re doing is about getting the industry back on track.”

“We need to get going again, because without live music, this country loses its soul,” she adds. “We can’t just sit here and do nothing.”

 


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‘First hybrid festival’ debuts in Arctic Norway

The world’s northernmost jazz festival is hosting what it believes is Europe’s first ‘hybrid’ festival event – combining a traditional in-person component with a paid-for live stream – in order to reach a larger audience while coronavirus restrictions are in place.

Varanger Festival has been held in Vadsø, in northern Norway, since 1982, with some 12,000 festivalgoers making the pilgrimage north annually to see top jazz artists perform against the unique backdrop of the midnight sun.

“Unfortunately Covid-19 is something event organisers will have to deal with for some time, and we believe the hybrid solution we have chosen is the long-term answer,” explains festival director André Kvernhaug.

“Normally we sell 12,000 tickets during the festival, but with social distancing rules we have scaled down sharply. We have moved the festival to a different venue which only has a normal capacity of 250 – which has itself been reduced to 86 per concert. With 13 concerts in all, this gives us a total capacity of 1,118 tickets for the entire festival.”

“Livestreaming significantly expands our capacity”

Small socially distanced events have been permitted in Norway since May, though promoters’ association NKA is clear that socially distanced shows are not financially viable for its members.

In order to expand its reach, Varanger Festival is selling tickets for live streams of the festival performances via TicketCo, which launched its pay-per-view livestreaming platform, TicketCo TV, earlier this year.

The streams are priced at 100 kr (€9.40), compared to 200 kr (€18.80) or 375 kr (€35.20) for tickets for the physical shows.

“Livestreaming significantly expands our capacity and makes the concerts available to those who cannot or will not be able to physically attend,” adds Kvernhaug.

Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg, chief sales officer of TicketCo TV, comments: “We are proud to be supporting Varanger Festival and its team, who are embracing technology to ensure it can keep performing and reach new audiences.

“We are confident this approach will fast become the new normal”

“We believe they are the first organisers in Europe to be producing a hybrid festival and are confident this approach will fast become the new normal in the events industry.”

Varanger Festival takes place from 5 to 8 August 2020, headlined by Norwegian jazz legend Nils Petter Molvaer.

While Varanger is the first hybrid festival, hybrid concerts have existed for some time – though the limitations imposed by Covid-19 have focused attention on the format. brought Read IQ’s interview with singer-songwriter Emma McGann, who has been selling virtual tickets since 2014, here:

“Go live and go live often”: Livestream pioneer chats ‘hybrid’ touring


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Dance music is art

Dance music has been gradually evolving since the 1970s, embedding its influence across generations. Dance music is continually changing, uniting multiple genres, cultures, nations, and histories to create a single art form.

Therefore, not only should electronic music demand its own recognition within the arts, but it should be recognised as the one unique musical art form that acts as a conduit for all other music genres as it constantly reinvents itself.

Electronic music does not discriminate, rather it brings together, regardless of age and background. It has long been established that club and festival dance culture is a vital part of British heritage, as well as generating millions of pounds in revenue for the economy, it adds to the ever-growing nightlife tourism figures boasting 300 million visits a year across the UK.

Given the investment of many European countries in the arts sector specifically supporting and recognising the value of classic and contemporary art forms, the UK government has been under immense pressure to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts by properly funding a sector that generates significant revenues for the exchequer.

On 5 July 2020, an announcement was made by the UK culture secretary highlighting a £1.57billion (€1.73bn) arts and culture fund.

Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said, “Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries. I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”

“Electronic music has always been a popular art form that reaches a diverse number of communities, but which now finds itself excluded, even if only by narrative”

But when asked about potential support for music venues and festivals on the 9 July during Parliament, he announced the fund would “cover grassroots music venues, concert halls and indoor arenas… those wholly or mainly used for performance of live music for the purposes of entertaining an audience,” with no mention of clubs or festivals.

Sector trade bodies have continually asked for clarification from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on whether dance music clubs, festivals and events will be included, but the department has so far failed to provide assurances or clarity, so we await the details of eligibility in the coming weeks.

The industry is astounded at the government’s failure to recognise dance music clubs and events within its narrative as part of arts and culture, and continues to drive a clear message regarding its eligibility to apply for the funding in line with the live sector.

What the government fails to understand is that much of the sector operates venues that house both live and dance/recorded music events, and in many cases, they survive symbiotically in support of each other with many successful examples within the market place.

Electronic music has always been a popular art form that reaches a diverse number of communities, but which now finds itself excluded, even if only by narrative!

Surely the Government can recognise the importance of this sector to youth culture, and through the rise of the illegal rave scene recognise the value of professional regulated spaces where people can enjoy themselves and the music safely.

The industry has to now drive the agenda, as we see the tide turn between removal of risk to management of risk, it’s time to get the science to work for us.

Dance music is the world’s third most popular music genre, with an estimated audience of over 1.5 billion. But, despite the global influence and economic importance of British dance music and culture, government support and clarity on the future of the sector has so far been very limited.

 


Michael Kill is CEO of the UK’s Night Time Industries Association.

IQ Focus: The Top 10 sessions so far

Since launching IQ Focus, a weekly series of livestreamed panels that debuted in May, we’ve been inviting heavyweights from the international live music business to discuss issues ranging from the trials and tribulations of a pandemic to the systemic racism brought to light by Blackout Tuesday, and everything in between.

But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. The Innovation Session, for example, heard panellists discuss the flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas that have come out of the coronavirus crisis. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid presented expert opinions on how to protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists. What all these sessions have had in common is a sense of optimism, opportunity and determination, as our industry forges ahead into the unknown.

This week we’re taking some time off from IQ Focus, but in the meantime, please enjoy our top ten sessions from the past couple of months and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications about future IQ Focus sessions.

 


1. Festival Forum: Here Comes ’21

Hosted by ILMC head Greg Parmley, a panel comprising Europe’s festival elite discuss the collapse of this year’s festival season, as well as predictions for the next. Jim King (AEG Presents), Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio), Rachael Greenfield (Bloodstock Open Air), Anders Wahren (Roskilde Festival) and Mathieu Jaton (Montreux Jazz Festival) update us on how they’re coping in unprecedented circumstances; what lessons have been learned, which challenges have been faced and crucially, what the road to recovery looks like.

 


2. The Agency Business: 3.0

The Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges for both multinational agencies and boutique outfits. From juggling investors to dealing with a hiatus from touring, agencies are being forced to reflect on how their companies are structured and seek new opportunities and creative solutions. ILMC head and session chair Greg Parmley asks an all-star panel, what comes next? Guest speakers include Angus Baskerville, (13 Artists) Jules de Lattre (United Talent Agency), Maria May (Creative Artists Agency) and Tom Schroeder (Paradigm Talent Agency).

 


3. The Venue’s Venue: Building Back

For IQ‘s third focus session, John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, invites leading venue professionals to discuss strategies for weathering the storm, what the key learnings have been so far, and what emerging from life under lockdown might look like. Guest speakers include Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall / National Arena Association – UK), Olivier Toth (Rockhal / European Arena Association – Luxembourg), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions – Germany), Tom Lynch (ASM Global – UK), Lotta Nibell (GOT Event – Sweden).

 


4. The Innovation Session

While the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 continues to resonate throughout live music, the halt in normal business is seeing a flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas. From an explosion in livestreaming to virtual performances and meet & greets, 3D venues, gaming and tipping, what green shoots are rising from this current situation? Mike Malak, senior agent at Paradigm Talent Agency chairs our fourth IQ Focus session and invites a line-up of free-thinkers and ground-breakers.

 


5. The State of Independence: Promoters

Across the touring world, independent promoters face similar challenges when looking ahead to business post-Covid-19. While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead? CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?

 


6. Festival Forum: The Next Stage

We’re midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, and it’s a summer like no other. But are we midway through the crisis, or is there still further to go before the festival sector can confidently progress into 2021? With a number of Government support packages in place, and much of this year’s line ups transplanted to next year, how confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return? IQ editor Gordon Masson hosts this discussion with guest speakers including Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool Festival – ES), John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival / Solo Agency – UK), Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive – DE), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania Festival – RO).

 


7. Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis

One of the hardest-hit areas of the business, grassroots music venues may well also be the first to emerge from the current crisis over the coming weeks and months. Across Europe, the fate of these vital stages on which talent is born and grown, is mixed, with some facing closure. How are our small venues being protected by the organisations and industry around them, and what still needs to be done? And once their doors are open again, how different will gig going be?

 


8. Beyond Rhetoric: Race in Live Music

Blackout Tuesday brought the industry to a standstill and thrust the topic of diversity in the music business back into view. So just what challenges do black promoters, agents and managers face, and what’s needed to counter systemic racism both within the business, in performance spaces and touring markets? Our next IQ Focus session will ask how changes can be made, and the current momentum can be maintained over the months and years ahead.

 


9. IQ Focus & The MMF Present: Managing The Crisis

With the bulk of artists dependent on live music revenue and audience connection, the Covid-19 crisis has decimated livelihoods. But what does it mean for their managers – the individuals thrown into salvaging campaigns, rescheduling tours, interpreting contractual changes and navigating the most uncertain of futures? How are their own businesses faring? And what do they see as the challenges – and hopefully opportunities – ahead for the live sector, in what we are all optimistically calling the “new normal”.

 


10. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid

Staying Safe & Sane During Covid considered how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists alike who are juggling disruption to working conditions, employment & financial concerns, a difficult global outlook and more. Chaired by Stacey Pragnell at ATC Live, the conversation featured Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), MITC founder Tamsin Embleton, tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and the CEO of mental health and wellbeing festival Getahead, Jenni Cochrane.

 


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Share price holds steady in difficult Q2 for Live Nation

Live Nation’s second-quarter earnings report depicts a tough period for the live entertainment group. With few live events taking place worldwide, LN has reported a 98% drop in revenue and US$665 million loss during the quarter.

The company’s revenue for the quarter was $74m compared to $3.2 billion last year – even after gradually reducing costs for this year by over $800m – taking the company’s current debt to $4.9bn with a weighted average cost of 4.4%.

The loss includes refunds issued by the company’s ticketing platform, Ticketmaster, which reimbursed money for 11m tickets across 42,000 shows and generated a loss of approximately $79m.

However, the company’s share price has been on a steady incline since the end of June, increasing from $42.64 to current value of $47.64, and its CEO Michael Rapino is optimistic about the future.

Speaking during Live Nation’s latest earnings call at 5pm ET (9pm GMT) yesterday (5 August), Rapino said the company will be focusing on new revenue streams around keeping fans connected to artists, citing the potential for livestreaming to become a long-term component of the business.

“Virtual concerts have proven to be a huge demand with fans, so we established a live-from-home platform to provide a convenient place for fans of all types to find the performances from their favourite artists,” he says.

“Virtual concerts have proven to be a huge demand with fans, so we established a live-from-home platform for fans to find the performances from their favourite artists”

LN had 67m fans see over 18,000 concerts and festivals globally, the vast majority of them online, in the second quarter – most recently the virtual Lollapalooza festival.

Though LN has launched socially distant shows when and where permitted, in New Zealand, France, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Finland and as well as cities across the US, Rapino says he expects live events to return properly in summer 2021.

On the call, the CEO expressed confidence in the fans’ desire to attend shows in the future despite uncertainty, reporting that 86% of concert fans are keeping their tickets for rescheduled shows.

However, it seems LN is still planning for a potentially tough festival season in 2021. In early June, a memo was leaked outlining the company’s intention to update its contract terms for artists.

The memo, sent to booking agency partners, proposed changes including a 20% reduction in guarantees from 2021 levels, minimum requirements for marketing activity and a stipulation that artists hold their own cancellation insurance in the event that the festival does not go ahead.

However, on the earnings call, Rapino said “the press got a hold of a work in progress,” and that largely the memo was a “wish list of things”.

“Artists keep calling me daily saying, ‘When can I go? When’s it going to be safe? When are we going to go?’”

“We wanted to make sure that going into 2021, if you are a headline artist that was going to play a certain festival this year and [both LN and the artist] wanted you to play it next year, the two things we wanted to make sure that we were protected in, and that we both shared some of the risk, was a refund reduction and insurance,” he clarified,

“Those are the two principles, if you take all the drama from the press, aside those are the two things we wanted to make sure that we weren’t stuck paying the same price in 2020 if we had a 31% refund rate on a festival.”

Despite the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on Live Nation’s, and the wider industry’s, business, Rapino told investors touring had “not had a structural change”, with both fans and artists keen to get back to shows as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“Artists keep calling me daily saying, ‘When can I go? When’s it going to be safe? When are we going to go? I am dying to go. I got new music. I want to drop new music,’” he added.

“So I think this is why we believe long term – regardless of what quarter we exactly scale at – that the business will be stronger than ever, with the creative push by all these artists who need to get on the road to drive their new music.”

 


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Colours of Ostrava celebrates with ‘Non-Festival’

Colours of Ostrava, the biggest international music festival in the Czech Republic, marked its original 2020 dates with a series of small, sold-out ‘non-festivals’ of music and circus, arts and circus.

Held at the Colours festival site at Lower Vítkovice, an ex-ironworks in the city of Ostrava, NeFestival (‘Non-Festival’) Colours of Ostrava was organised for mid-July, after promoter Colours Selection was forced to pull Colours of Ostrava 2020 as a result of the growing Covid-19 crisis. Events of up to 1,000 people were allowed in the Czech Republic from the end of May.

“We invite you to celebrate with us that we can once again be together, enjoy live music, theatre and discussions,” said festival director Zlata Holušová. “That we can once again drink beer, or whatever we like to, and that we can once more discuss important issues and everyday things face to face.”

With its NeFestival, Colours of Ostrava (45,000-cap.) becomes one of the only major European festivals to have held a physical event in this year, along with Lollapalooza Paris, Rock Werchter and several Mediterranean beach events.

The first 1,000-capacity NeFestival event took place on 15 July and featured a show by circus company Cirk La Putyka, whose 45 acrobats, performers, dancers and guest artists juggled, walked the tightrope and danced across the industrial steel landscape of Lower Vítkovice. The evening closed with a concert by Czech band Tata Bojs.

Czech authorities reduced the maximum capacity to 100 midway through the festival, forcing the cancellation of days 3–4

The 16 July show saw performances from more Czech bands, DJ sets and a screening of a pre-recorded ‘quarantine concert’ by Dubioza Kolektiv.

While NeFestival Colours of Ostrava was originally planned for 15–18 July – the original Colours of Ostrava dates – Czech authorities once again reduced the maximum capacity for events (to 100) midway through the festival, forcing the cancellation of days three and four. “Under such conditions, the Non-Festival had to be cancelled immediately, putting the organisers, as well as everyone in the supply chain and about 350 associated workers, in an extremely precarious situation,” organisers explain.

The events which did take place were livestreamed to digital audiences, while the atmosphere on site was enhanced by light columns placed where Colours of Ostrava’s stages should have been, and which were  visible from across the city.

Colours of Ostrava 2021 takes place 14–17 July 2020. Its line-up, rolled over from 2020, includes the Killers, Twenty One Pilots, Martin Garrix, the Lumineers, LP and Youssou N’Dour and many more. Tickets are priced at 125 for a four-day pass and available from www.colours.cz.

 


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Esports gets in on the drive-in boom

Inspired by the success of drive-in concerts and cinemas, a new company, USA Drive-Ins, is launching the first-ever drive-in esports arenas.

USA Drive-Ins, a division of esports analytics firm Harena Data, has partnered with property company Horizon Group to develop esports arenas in four US cities. The first – in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – will launch at the Horizon-owned Outlet Shoppes shopping centre this Labor Day weekend (5–7 September), with venues in Louisville, Kentucky, and El Paso and Laredo, both in Texas, set to follow later this year.

The Gettysburg event will feature three-different forms of drive-in gameplay: car play only, in which attendees connect to games via their smart devices without leaving their cars; hybrid car play, where players qualify using their own mobile device or Nintendo Switch console, with those who make the cut then invited up to the (socially distanced) stage to compete head to head; and stage play, a competitive mode, broadcast on the arena’s projector, for the best players, who are entered into a tournament to battle on games such as Super Smash Bros, Fifa, NBA 2K, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter.

The launch of USA Drive-Ins comes in the wake of the explosion in drive-in shows that followed the shutdown of concert touring in March. The concept originated in Dusseldorf, Germany, with venue operator D.Live, and quickly spread around the world, allowing artists and promoters to put on concerts while traditional music venues are closed.

“Our first trial will mimic the cinemagoing experience but maintain the comfort of gaming in your own space”

“Our first trial will mimic the cinemagoing experience but maintain the comfort of gaming in your own space,” comments Bill Dever, chief strategy officer of Harena Data.

“Along with high-tech concession stands, we’re offering clean bathrooms versus the standard port-a-potties that drive-ins have. They will be disinfected frequently and limited in maximum occupants at one time.”

Like drive-in concerts, the esports events will allow gamers to offer food to their cars by smartphone, choosing from touch-free menus, adds Dever.

According to Futuresource Consulting, the esports, or competitive videogaming, sector, will reach a value of US$1 billion this year. Gaming has been one of the biggest winners of the coronavirus pandemic, with videogame stocks becoming increasingly hot property as locked-down consumers turn en masse to games for their entertainment fix.

IQ revealed that more than three quarters of a billion people – each one of them a potential concertgoer once the live business restarts – play video games regularly.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Munich music venues file lawsuit against Bavaria

Seven Munich music venues have teamed up to sue the Free State of Bavaria for allegedly violating the law when it forced the venues to close at the end of March, due to coronavirus.

One of the club owners, Alexander Spierer of Sweet Club, told Süddeutsche Zeitung that the venues do not dispute the state’s decision to force closure in a bid to control the virus, but are frustrated that the operators have largely abandoned by the government.

Spierer went on to say that club operators are not interested in reopening any time soon but would like to hold the state liable for damages, saying the help offered was inadequate.

After teaming up with the other clubs, Spierer’s lawyer submitted a standard control application to the Bavarian Administrative Court, claiming that the Bavarian government violated applicable law and the Basic Law when, by decree, on 27 March, it banned the operation of clubs, among other things.

“Munich music venue operators are frustrated that they have largely been left alone by politics and feel the help offered was inadequate”

Bavaria, Germany’s biggest state, was the first to implement a full lockdown, which started from 4 March. The state premier Markus Söder began to relax measures in mid-May.

Concert spaces in Bavaria were permitted to reopen on 22 June, with a maximum of 100 guests indoors and up to 200 guests outdoors, and adhering to social distancing measures. Major events remain prohibited at least until 31 August.

Elsewhere in Germany, major events remain banned until the start of November unless organisers can prove that social distancing measures and hygiene protocol can be met.

Bayreuth-based promoter Semmel Concerts is planning to host the biggest event the country has seen post-coronavirus, inviting 5,000 fans to open-air concerts at the Waldbühne amphitheatre in Berlin, in September.

A custom-designed hygiene protocol will be in place at the event, which will also respect all distancing regulations.

 


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Live music markets hit as more cities lock down

The Philippines has become the latest live entertainment market to be put back into lockdown amid concerns a surge in new coronavirus cases could push the healthcare system to collapse.

Stay-at-home orders are now in place in Manila and four surrounding provinces for the next two weeks, prohibiting residents from outdoor activity except for going out to buy essential goods or exercising outdoors.

The country only just emerged from one of the strictest lockdowns in June but after reporting a record 5,032 new infections on Sunday (2 June), numerous medical associations urged President Rodrigo Duterte to toughen restrictions.

The capital city is home to some of the country’s largest venues, including the SM Mall of Asia Arena, which in lieu of live events has transformed into a mega swabbing centre.

Across the Indian Ocean, Melbourne’s gradual reopening of nightlife is still on hold as the city battles a deadly second wave of coronavirus. Australia’s second-biggest city was put back into lockdown on 9 July after a localised outbreak of Covid-19.

Melbourne has recently mandated wearing masks and tightened a stay-at-home order to reduce transmissions.

Parts of Leicester have been relinquished from local lockdown, allowing venues in Leicester City to reopen from yesterday

The state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, is responsible for over half of Australia’s 18,300 recorded cases.

After Victoria recorded another 671 cases of coronavirus on Sunday and seven deaths, premier Daniel Andrews announced a “state of disaster”.

On Sunday (2 August), Andrews introduced new rules including a night-time curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am for the next six weeks.

In the UK, parts of Leicester have been relinquished from its local lockdown, allowing venues in Leicester City to reopen from yesterday (3 August). Though venues such as The Shed will remain closed, writing “Music venues still aren’t in the clear, and we’re aiming for September!” on its Facebook page.

English venues were preparing to reopen from 1 August but will no longer be able to do so after the government pushes back the next step of lockdown easing by at least two weeks.

Elsewhere, Botswana has reinstated lockdown in the capital, Gaborone, for two weeks after recording 30 new cases of coronavirus. The order took effect last Thursday (30 June).

“Essential services will operate at 25% capacity, there will be no movement within the Greater Gaborone Zone without a movement permit and movement to and from Greater Gaborone Zone will be void with immediate effect,” says Kereng Masupu, the coordinator of the presidential Covid-19 taskforce.


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UK gears up for #LetTheMusicPlay round 2

A month after round one helped spur the British government into action, the UK music industry will tomorrow (4 August) again unite for #LetTheMusicPlay, spotlighting the plight of live music during the Covid-19 shutdown.

The first #LetTheMusicPlay (LTMP) campaign, which took place on Thursday 2 July, saw thousands of social media profiles – as well as several major music venues – transformed with LTMP branding, with more than 1,500 artists, including the likes of Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and the Rolling Stones, also lending their support.

Of the campaign’s three main demands – a financial support package, a VAT exemption/reduction on ticket sales, and a timeline for reopening venues without social distancing – only the third remains unfulfilled, with the UK government having announced its £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, and then slashed VAT to 5%, in the following weeks.

However, even socially distanced – ie mostly financially unviable – indoor shows are off limits for at least another two weeks, and the industry is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus: an estimated 60% of live music jobs are at risk, and 50% of businesses supplying services to the industry only have liquidity for another four months.

With details of the Culture Recovery Fund, including eligibility for live music businesses, now known, organisers of LTMP are calling on supporters to again take to social media to highlight the difficulties faced by the first-to-close, last-to-reopen concert industry.

“#LetTheMusicPlay aims to highlight that the broader ecosystem of the live music business remains in crisis”

For #LetTheMusicPlay round two, participants are asked to post an end of tour or event crew photo – or a photo of them and their ‘crew’ – with the hashtag #LetTheMusicPlay, from midnight tonight.

A range of pre-made social media graphics are also available to download here.

“Venues and events are still unable to fully open, and so the industry still faces a cliff edge of redundancies,” says Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters’ Association.

“The measures that we’ve seen from government over the past few weeks are hugely welcome, but we still need a date to reopen, and a scheme to insure shows so that they can go ahead.

“The second round of #LetTheMusicPlay aims to highlight that the broader ecosystem of the live music business remains in crisis.”

 


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