A recent report from the Vereniging Nederlandse Poppodia en Festivals (VNPF), which means the Association of Dutch pop theatres and festivals, has revealed the extent of the damage the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the live entertainment industry in the Netherlands. 

In 2020, there was a total of 5,856 visitor-attended activities at music venues, a drop of 65% compared to 2019 at 16,628. 

A total of 6,495 music performances with a live audience were held at venues in 2020, which is a 76% decline compared to the year before. There were 26,585 performances in 2019. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, over one million visits were still made to music venues in 2020, though this is an 80% decrease compared to the 5.2 million visits the year before. 

The report said: “In 2019, 41% of the artists at concerts came from abroad and in 2020 this was only 21%. Due to the pandemic, foreign artists in particular cancelled their tours and performances in the Netherlands from March 2020.” 

However, the report also noted how venues were able to take advantage of live streaming programmes, allowing artists to perform online. A total of 1,415 live streaming activities were presented by pop venues and 1,519 music performances were made by artists. Around 3.1 million views were clocked up in 2020. 

The report continued to note the impact the coronavirus had on employees within the sector, and stated: “Despite the support measures, many salaried employees still lost their jobs. From the start of the crisis, temporary contracts were usually not renewed. 

“In the second half of 2020, a number of venues were forced to let some of the permanent staff go due to reorganisations. In terms of salaried staff, there was an 11% decrease in the number of employed persons and 5% less FTE in 2020 compared to 2010.”

The effects were even more detrimental for freelance or temporary workers. 

Most of the 53 festivals associated with the VNPF had to cancel or move their 2020 editions. In 2019, 3,285 artists performed across 371 stages compared to just 433 artists across 56 stages.

Image: Hannah Busing on Unsplash