‘The Industry Sticks Together’: Coronavirus In Europe

Tourist in front of the Colosseo monument in downtown Rome, Italy, on Feb. 28, 2020.
– Tourist in front of the Colosseo monument in downtown Rome, Italy, on Feb. 28, 2020.
The Italian government has granted the country

Most of Europe has been placed under quarantine by government ordinance. The German state of Bavaria even declared the state of emergency: all retail apart from essential businesses have been forced to shut down, restaurants are only allowed to open until 3 p.m., private individuals are urged to stay at home and limit social contact.

Even in countries that haven’t yet declared a state of emergency, the limits placed on public gatherings are substantial, and have brought the live events industry to a standstill.
Various government ministers have been emphatically promising financial support in the form of bank loans. Olaf Scholz, finance minister of Germany, called his planned $600-billion rescue package the “bazooka” with which to tackle the virus. “We have the financial strength to overcome this crisis,” he said, “We’re not building up arms slowly. We’re putting all our weapons on the table.”
In France, finance minister Bruno Le Maire unveiled a $50 billion rescue program, also expressing readiness to nationalize large companies faced with ruin. The country’s president said, “we are at war. A health war. We’re neither fighting another army nor another nation. But the enemy is here, invisible, untouchable, and it’s advancing.”
Spain has announced $121 billion in loans, while Italy has so far announced a rescue package of $30 billion. The UK government has pledged to make $400 billion in bank loans available to businesses that need it. It was unclear at press time, how much of each country’s respective fund will be funnelled to the creative sectors. 
Most of the above-mentioned countries have introduced additional measures to alleviate the pressures on small and medium-sized businesses, such as granting respites for tax and dept payments, loosening the rules around short-time work, or subsidizing lost income for affected workers.
Glastonbury Festival
Andrew Allcock
– Glastonbury Festival
The world’s most famous festival just announced that it won’t take place in 2020

Europe’s live music associations have been reaching out to their governments with catalogs of measures in order to save the industry. Spain’s promoters association APM, for instance, recommended the lowering of the VAT on concert tickets from 10% to 4%, as well as a VAT reduction from 21% to 10% on all services related to live music.

It also suggests introducing alternative measures to compensate consumers aside from ticket refunds and officially declaring this virus outbreak as force majeure to facilitate the postponement of concerts and festivals.
This chimes with the proposals from Germany’s promoters association BDKV, which asked for a 365-day grace period for promoters to reschedule an event before having to refund the ticket, to help with their cash liquidity – a measure already introduced by the Italian government.
BDKV also suggested that promoters should be able to offer ticket holders a voucher worth the original ticket price, instead of owing them a cash refund,  in case a rescheduling of the event isn’t possible.
Business operators worldwide are facing a couple of issues, as long as the closure of their respective businesses isn’t governmentally mandated: they can be held liable for damages by customers and suppliers in case of event cancellations, and they won’t be able to enforce insurance claims.
Berlin’s vibrant underground club scene was facing this dilemma when politicians urged them to shut down their businesses on March 13, but wanted to postpone official ordinances until March 17 to allow for Germany’s local elections to pass. Only after Berlin’s Clubcommission pressured the politicians into understanding that even just one weekend of cancelled events would ruin the city’s many independent club owners, the ordinance was enacted earlier than planned, on March 14.
The agencies are currently struggling to reschedule tours that were originally set for March and April. Believing the most pessimistic outlook, the industry should be able to operate normally again by September. The end of the year is traditionally a very busy touring period in normal times. Currently everybody is fighting for even more slots it even less space.
Paradigm’s Geoff Meall told Pollstar, “Availabilities are the scarcest they’ve ever been. Who’s moving quickest is kind of winning at the moment.”
A spokesperson for German promoter giant DEAG confirmed this: “Currently we see that all promoters try to reschedule their shows in the phase especially after the summer since nobody can tell how long this situation will last. September, October and November are generally always well booked months – this means these months will be even fuller.
“But what we see at the moment is a great flexibility from the venues as well as from the artists, agents and managers: Everybody is not just trying to save their own business but the industry sticks together in these tough times. It will all depend on how long this crisis will last. If it’ll be just a few weeks, we think that most companies are able to compensate for it.”
DEAG and Paradigm, like most companies in this business, have left it up to their employees whether to work from the office or home, at least until the authorities decide to curb even this practice.
According to the DEAG spokesperson, “Our employees are well aware of this situation and are all fully dedicated to successfully working together through this crisis.”