For the international contemporary live music industry

Promoters remain frustrated as event restrictions subside

World News
June 26, 2020

COVID-19 event restrictions are being loosened worldwide but promoters do not expect business to return to anything like normal until the next year.

New Zealand went into lockdown on 25 March, but all limits on gatherings were removed on 8 June and social distancing is no longer required.

Showcase Entertainment Group founder Layton Lillas is among local promoters delighted by the news. He says, “We have been very lucky to have strong, decisive leadership that has got us out of this mess well ahead of expectations.”

Up until 8 June, shows with a capacity of 100 had been allowed, but Stewart Macpherson of The Stetson Group, says they were not viable and has postponed all shows and tours until next year.

Meanwhile, Lillas says the government’s decision to continue with a two week quarantine for people entering the country has not helped the situation.

“I can’t see Elton John opting for the two-week quarantine after scheduled shows in early 2021, so I’m just hoping we can sort some medical tests and maybe do a bubble system with the artistes and their crew, where they literally don’t have contact with the New Zealand public,” he says.

Germany is among many European counties to see restrictions begin to be lifted. In Berlin, 500-capacity outdoor shows can take place from 16 June, with the limit rising to 1,000 from the end of the month.

Berlin-based Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) CEO Peter Schwenkow says the situation is improving rapidly and there has been no sign of a second wave of infections.

He predicts the classical concert business will be wiped out for the next three years, due to the audience demographic involved and their unwillingness to return to shows. However, he expects the contemporary music business to be back to normal in spring next year.

In the Czech Republic it has been possible to stage indoor and outdoor shows with capacities of up to 500, and no social distancing requirements, since 8 June.

Live Nation Czech Republic MD Robert Porkert says, “We specialises in large public events, not small shows, so we know that no event we have scheduled for this year will happen on its original date.”

Porkert is working on shows by local acts but has noticed that many of them have not proved hugely enthusiastic about playing reduced-capacity concerts.

It is also now possible to stage shows with capacities of up to 500 in Finland and Denmark. Steen Jørgensen will be among the first artistes to play a major venue in Denmark since the crisis began. The PDH Music-promoted show took place on 26 June at the DR Concert Hall (cap. 1,800) in Copenhagen.

Pernille Møller Pedersen of All Things Live supported the Danish government’s decision to lock the country down early, and he is planning a series of 500-capacity shows.

“Compared to other countries Denmark seems to have the situation under control, and our society has started to open up again,” he says. “We are planning shows with local artistes, the first will be on 29 August with Motor Mille at Amager Bio [1,050] in Copenhagen.”

The Austrian government currently allows shows with a capacity of 100 to take place as long as social distancing is maintained and masks worn. From 1 July 250-capacity shows will be allowed, and on 1 August 1,000-capacity indoor concerts and 1,250-capacity  outdoors shows can take place.

Ewald Tatar, founder of the 55,000-capacity Nova Rock Festival and CEO of CTS Eventim-owned Nova Music, says, “We have no concerts until after 31 August, and from then until the end of the year we have moved 80 per cent of our shows into 2021.”

In Switzerland, events of up to 300 people have been permitted since 6 June, with social distancing maintained.

In Poland outdoor shows for up to 150 people are allowed so long as attendees wear masks.

Mateusz Pawlicki of Prestige MJM says the company has been forced to postpone almost all its projects until 2021, but he is hoping to benefit from the European Union Commission’s call for the reopening of internal borders by the end of June.

“We have not yet postponed two autumn concerts and we hope they we will take place as planned,” says Pawlicki.

In Australia, where state authorities are taking different approaches to lockdown lifting, many of the country’s leading promoters have formed the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF).

The LEIF aims to help re-start live entertainment. Currently, shows with a capacity of 300 are able to take place in Western Australia, but in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania show capacities are limited to 20.

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