The Swedish government has halted plans to allow increased capacities at sport events and concerts due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country and across Europe.
Plans originally included hiking the attendance limit for some events to 500 from the current 50, which has been in place since March.
Lena Hallengren, minister for health and social affairs, told reporters: “Sweden has left the low levels we saw during the summer. Our assessment is that changes are not appropriate at this point.”
Culture and sport minister Amanda Lind wrote on Facebook: “I understand that today’s message disappoints many. Like you, I would have liked to have seen the opportunity to make a decision on relief from the 50 limit for seating arrangements today. But that is not the situation. It is a sad message, but Sweden and the world are still in perhaps the worst health crisis in modern times.
“In a pandemic, the views of the Public Health Agency weigh heavily. The Swedish Public Health Agency came up with the recommendation that the government await changes in the Prohibition Ordinance with regard to the current infection situation. Therefore, the government is postponing the decision on the planned changes.
“We are still planning to make the changes, but we are not making them today but will make the decision as soon as possible and the infection situation still allows.”
YouTube Music and the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) have announced a three-day virtual festival taking its name from the Save Our Stages industry relief package.
Following the organisations’ partnership announcement last month, the Save Our Stages Festival (#SOSFEST) will present new performances by a variety of 35 performers, including Foo Fighters, Kelsea Ballerini and YG. The performances will take place across more than 25 independent stages in the US from October 16-18.
YouTube head of artist partnerships and live music Ali Rivera told Pollstar: “On our side, we have a team of people that are very passionate about live music, and all of us are really close to going to these independent venues.
“When we saw the impact COVID was having on independent venues, we wanted to help. We knew our platform could make a difference. We have such a global reach, and we have tools available to fundraise.”
The slate also includes Dave Matthews Band (Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Va.), Marshmello and Demi Lovato (L.A.’s Troubadour), Brittany Howard (the Ryman), Dillon Francis (L.A.’s Teragram Ballroom), and Phoebe Bridgers (the Troubadour), among many others.
NIVA treasurer Stephen Sternschein, who is executive producing #SOSFEST and owns the Texas’s Empire Control Room & Garage, told Pollstar.”We were able to spread the performances out across the country to show a real cross section of the variety of types of [NIVA] members.
“Independent venues are so different. There are so many different kinds of rooms. A lot of people, I think, have kind of equated NIVA with the quote-unquote small club scene. The smallest rooms, the most intimate settings, that’s the top of the funnel for artist discovery and development, but our membership is much broader than that, and the ethos that comes from that approach permeates everywhere from a tiny place like Cain’s [Ballroom in Tulsa, Okla.] to a giant place like the Apollo Theater or the Ryman. It was important to us from a narrative perspective to tell a story that was as inclusive and diverse as our membership.”
#SOSFEST is presented by Bud Light Seltzer, which will donate $1m to NIVA as part of the event. In addition, a primary stream on NIVA’s YouTube page will have YouTube Giving integration for donations to the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, as will the performance videos that will simultaneously stream on the individual pages of participating artists.
Germany’s 10 point plan
Germany’s Green Party has released a 10-point proposed plan that addresses several issues that continue to threaten the live industry.
It tackles the lack of planning security, insufficient funds and an adjustment of the funding programs to better address the needs of this highly individualised business.
The authors of the plan, Robert Habeck and Erhard Grundl, state that “the aid programs of the federal government are failing” as they have not taken into account the realities of the event sector and its individuals.
The pair explain that live events businesses are unable to name a reopening date or plan future events and therefore do not qualify for Germany’s main cultural stimulus package, ‘Restart Culture.’
The 10 points are:
1) A interim financial aid program for the events sector, granting all threatened companies a monthly subsidy of 2% of last year’s turnover.
2) Having regular crisis dialogues with this industry’s experts in parliament, in order to fully understand live
3) Introducing a blanket basic income of €1,200 ($1,400) for solo self-employed professionals, becoming effective retroactively and country-wide.
4) Creating planning security by establishing a protective financial shield that guarantees to unbureaucratically compensate losses incurred from events that need to be cancelled in the future.
5) Adjusting the terms of the government’s loan schemes to fit the events industry.
6) Adjusting the scope of EU grants, which are currently limited to €800,000 per company. As Germany’s promoters association BDKV has been pointing out, this wasn’t nearly enough to compensate the losses of even a small company, given the immense sales collapse combined with the unusually long duration of this crisis.
7) Venues, in particular, need to be protected – legally and financially.
8) The creation of an emergency contact point that informs everybody of the many different help programs for culture introduced by the German federal government, as well as its 16 individual states – which can become quite confusing.
9) Expanding and supporting scientific research into infection protection at live events.
10) Making the events industry crisis-proof for a time after Corona, which means creating “better social and economic safety nets for all creatives.”