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Netherlands extends gatherings ban, while US independent venues call for support

More festivals in the Netherlands have been forced to cancel their 2020 editions after the country’s mass gatherings ban was extended to August 31, while a newly formed US independent venues association has urged members of the House of Representatives to roll out targeted funding for venues and promoters.

Netherlands extends gatherings ban

The Netherlands has become the latest country to extend its mass gatherings ban, with events not to return until after August 31.

The original June 1 date has been scrapped, with no events having taken place since March 24.

The announcement puts the Netherlands in line with European countries Germany, Belgium and Denmark who have also banned large-scale public events into September.

Festivals in the Netherlands that have been affected by the extension include Lowlands, Friendly Fire and Pinkpop, while DGTL Amsterdam, Awakenings Easter and Dauwpop has already been impacted by the June 1 ban.

Dutch government and competition watchdog ACM has encouraged fans to hang on to tickets for a later date through vouchers, rather than request refunds.

In Finland, gatherings of more than 500 people have now been banned until at least July 31.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said government measures to support organisers had not yet been discussed, but believed that insurance policies should cover losses.

Marin also reminded people that gatherings of more than 10 people remain banned until at least mid-May.

US Independent Venues

Newly formed US trade association the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has called on members of the House of Representatives for targeted legislative and regulatory assistance.

The letter, which was sent to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, requests modified loan programmes, tax relief, unemployment insurance, mortgage and rent forbearance, business recovery fund and debt deferral.

NIVA, which is made up of more than 800 independent music promoters and venues across the US, has asked for specific funding programmes in an effort to enable venues to remain afloat during the COVID-19 live events blackout.

The group estimates that every $1 spent on a ticket at a small venue leads to $12 of economic activity generated within the local communities, leading to a direct annual economic impact of nearly $10bn to local economies.

NIVA member venues include 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.; First Avenue in Minneapolis; World Café Live in Philadelphia; Exit/In in Nashville, Chicago Independent Venue League, Pabst Theater Group in Milwaukee, and Red River Cultural District in Austin, Texas, among the hundreds of others.

NIVA said in the letter: “Without your help, thousands of independent venues will not survive to see the day when our doors can open to the public again.

“While we have no income, we do have essential employees, employee benefits, debts with personal guarantees, rents or mortgages, utilities, insurance, local, state and federal taxes, and the massive burden of ticket refunds for more than 100,000 cancelled shows due to COVID-19.”

The letter follows the recent announcement from President Donald Trump about a phased reopening of socioeconomic activities across the country.

Phase 1 of the reopening plan kicks in after 14 days of a downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 symptoms and cases in a particular region, with hospitals able to “treat all patients without crisis care” and a “robust testing program” in place for healthcare workers.

Then a phased reopening can take place, including ‘large venues,’ such as cinema, sporting venues and restaurants while still practicing “strict physical distancing protocols.”

Image: Laurensvanheerde