France has extended its ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people to September and WME’s Richard Weitz’s Quarantunes hits $1.5m…


Quarantunes

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs has donated $100,000 as part of WME talent agency partner Richard Weitz’s ‘Quarantunes’ COVID-19 fundraising initiative.

Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon joined the invitation-only Quarantunes Zoom call on Saturday to announce the donation, which contributed to the earnings of $450,000 after four and a half hours of performances and talks.

The initiative kicked off last month as an effort by Weitz and his 17-year-old daughter to raise $10,000 through a Go Fund Me account to assist front-line health care workers.

Performers on Saturday’s call included John Legend, Rob Thomas, Andra Day, Rick Springfield, Richard Marx, Rick Astley, John Parr, John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls, Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet and R&B veteran Jeffrey Osborne.

The digital gathering had reportedly ballooned to more than 700 participants in the first hour.

Demi Weitz, Richard Weitz’s daughter, told the crowd that the total amount raised through eight Zoom concert calls to date had topped $1.25m, before Saturday’s additional $450,000.

“My heart has never been so full in my life,” she said, according to Variety. “It’s so important to give back and do what we can in these really, really hard times.”

France

Live events of more than 5,000 people will continue to be banned in France until at least September.

The French government’s decision means the previous ban that outlawed mass gathering until mid-July has been extended.

Music venues and theatres will remain closed after May 11, although some small museums and libraries will begin to reopen. Some venues may be permitted to reopen from June 2.

French prime minister Edouard Philippe announced last week: “Major sporting and cultural events – in particular festivals – major trade fairs and any other event with over 5,000 attendees cannot be held before September.”

The announcement has forced La Route du Rock festival to cancel its 30th anniversary event, which was due to host Kraftwerk, Chromatics and Cigarettes After Sex.

The news comes after France’s Culture Minister Franck Riester said that ‘small festivals’ of around 50 people could be held after May 11. Reister said during a hearing in the Senate that decisions can be made on a case-by-case basis for festivals, but indicated small rural festivals with no more than 50 people would be acceptable.

Virtual May Day concert

Around 13 per cent of Finland’s population tuned in to watch a virtual concert by rap duo JVG.

The artists had been forced to cancel eight arena concerts in April due to COVID-19, so instead launched a virtual concert put together by their promoter Fullsteam Agency, virtual-reality studio Zoan and the city of Helsinki.

The virtual concertgoers were given the option to choose avatars and interact with the artist with different gestures and emojis, much like online video game Fortnite.

The Fortnite-inspired concert was viewed by more than a million people simultaneously at its peak, while a further 225,000 people saw it online, for a combined total audience of 1.4 million.

“I have always thought that we are in the business of bringing people together, and it feels incredibly comforting to be able to do so in the middle of everything that is going on at the moment,” said Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter at Fullsteam.

The duo performed against a green screen using Zoan’s Burst Live and Virtual Helsinki platforms to set a virtual stage on Senate Square in Helsinki.

Jan Vapaavuori, the mayor of Helsinki, said: “The first of May is one of the most prominent public holidays in Finland. People have generations-long traditions of celebrating Vappu [Walpurgis Night] in large groups, outside, in restaurants and with picnics.

“By combining Helsinki’s collaboration with Fullsteam, Zoan and our tradition for new technology experimentation we were able to create a virtual experience that brought together some of the traditional elements of Vappu to a new virtual reality.”