‘Firmly Committed To What The Public Call For’: Q’s With Carme Lanuza, Director, Palau Sant Jordi & Estadi Olímpic

01 Carme Lanuza
Carme Lanuza, director of the Anella Olímpica, which comprises Palau Sant Jordi, the Sant Jordi Club, and the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys. She also runs the Parc del Fòrum, where some of the country’s biggest festivals take place.

Carme Lanuza works at Barcelona Serveis Municipals (BSM), which unifies the provision of municipal services in the Catalan capital, where she oversees Barcelona’s Anella Olímpica, comprising Palau Sant Jordi, Sant Jordi Club and the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, which, together, counted more than 2.1 million visitors in 2023.

Lanuza also runs the Parc del Fòrum, where Primavera Sound takes place each year, right on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. There’s hardly a better person to talk to when trying to understand the trials, trends, and tribulations of Spain’s live sector in 2024.

Pollstar: How’s life and how’s business?
Carme Lanuza: Great! New challenges and goals to tackle, and raring to go. This applies to both my personal and professional life, having the constant motivation to grow. I think being able to strike a balance between the two is the key to success.

What are some of the recent successes you’d like to highlight? And what upcoming shows would you like to talk about?
We just had a record year! The Palau Sant Jordi, the Sant Jordi Club and the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys had more than 2.1 million visitors, three times the figure for 2022. This is a huge success that we are extremely proud of. We have also grown in terms of activity, hosting 167 events, 23% more than in the previous year.

These figures demonstrate the positioning of the Anella Olímpica in international circuits, with its diverse, high quality range of events and the accumulated expertise in organizing events.

But we’re not just sticking with these figures, as 2024 is also presenting big challenges for the whole team. The new show season will soon be starting at the Estadi Olímpic, where we will be hosting more than 50,000 people at each concert and this has us all buzzing. This year we’ll have performances from the group Rammstein, two concerts from Bruce Springsteen and the Catalan group Estopa.

Are you seeing an increase in the number of events taking place? And are you using new venues, buildings, areas of the city to host events?
The Anella Olímpica has three spaces that can hold shows for between 1,000 and 55,000 people. 2024 is proving to be a very important year for the Sant Jordi Club which, with a capacity for 4,620 people, is a unique venue in Barcelona that serves as a space both for emerging artists and other music groups that prefer small venues.

The fact that the program at the Sant Jordi Club has been so well received by audiences confirms the need for Barcelona to have a venue like this: in the past 6 months, 50% of the concerts have been sell-out events and 71% have sold more than 80% of available tickets.

02 Estadi Olimpic Harry Styles July 2023
Harry Styles at Barcelona’s Estadi Olimpic De Montjuic “Lluis Companys” in July last year.

Are there any revamps or improvements scheduled or underway in any of the venues managed by BSM?
The spaces in the Anella Olímpica undergo constant changes! One example of this is the renovation work carried out there in recent years, a series of changes have been carried out at the Palau Sant Jordi along with technological and infrastructural upgrades to improve visitor experience.

One of the most notable upgrades is the expansion of the emergency exits to increase capacity of the Palau Sant Jordi floor space, carried out during the pandemic. This enabled us to increase the venue’s audience capacity to the current maximum of 18,411.

And as you already know, for us sustainability is hugely important and we are constantly working on improving this aspect. New developments this year include the installation of a photovoltaic panel on the roof of the Sant Jordi Club, which will provide renewable energy to the Anella Olímpica, and improving the treatment of waste generated at events with the creation of a green point.

But that’s not all. This year we’re working on some very ambitious projects and investments to maintain our leading position in the city as a space for hosting all types of events and big international tours. We’ll be able to tell you more soon!

What trends have you observed in the world of live entertainment, for example increasingly popular genres, stadium shows, more (mini)residencies, fewer tours from legacy artists, etc. Anything that stands out for you?
We are seeing clear trends in the world of shows which we are constantly seeking to align ourselves with, or which we are already committed to, and we continue making great efforts in that area.

On the one hand, the musical genres that work well in our venues tend to reflect current trends in the music market. The Palau hosts pop concerts, rock concerts, classical music concerts and even the odd opera. Currently, urban and Latin music are the most highly demanded styles among fans and these genres make up a large part of the sell-out concerts.

On the other hand, sustainability is a clear trend which is not only essential for fulfilling the global agenda for sustainable development but also a decisive factor for society.

And finally, experiential and immersive experiences. A concert in itself is already a unique experience where the audience feels part of everything that happens on stage but there are lots of ways of improving this experience with advances in audio and imaging systems, not only at the event itself but also before the show begins. Technology offers us lots of possibilities!

Audience Plenitude PS BCN 24 30 05 24 Gisela Jane 02
A view of the Parc del Fòrum during Primavera Sound 2024, which welcomed close to 270,000 guests across all festival days. The site is run by Carme Lanuza at Barcelona Serveis Municipals. (Picture by Gisela Jane)

Can you talk about the progress you have made in the area of sustainability in a bit more detail?
As I explained before, this year a photovoltaic panel is being installed to supply the venue with renewable energy. The installation on the roof of the Sant Jordi Club will consist of 896 photovoltaic modules with 430 kW of power. It will cover a total surface area of 2,300 square meters and will enable the generation of 655,000 kWh per year, equivalent to the annual consumption of 200 households in the city.

But that’s not all we’re doing: our environmental commitment also extends to the actions we’re taking in relation to catering, such as consolidating the use of returnable glasses, the installation of a green point, cutting down on packaging as much as possible, getting rid of straws, improving selective waste collection… These measures are part of the efforts the Palau Sant Jordi is making to improve environmental sustainability, reducing its carbon footprint and contributing to the responsible use of natural resources.

Sustainability is also about protecting the mental and physical health of the professionals that work in this industry. How do you ensure that your workers are healthy and happy?
BSM carries out a number of different actions to motivate and boost the well-being of employees. On the one hand we have the continuous training program that help to develop and motivate employees in each of the areas they work in or are interested in, we seek to improve the professional profile of workers and improve retention and talent spotting among our workforce.

The team at the Anella helped us to achieve a record year! It is really important to recognize the merits of each person, and to promote initiatives to give a voice to each and every employee. An example of this is the CREA awards, an initiative organised by the company which gives a voice to all the ideas that employees come up with and rewards them for their ideas and commitment to the company.

Does Barcelona have enough performance venues? Could the city do with another performance venue in your opinion?
Barcelona is a key stop for European tours. Our venues provide spaces for all kinds of concerts and events of different sizes. We take great pride in seeing how some artists evolve and extend their tours choosing increasingly big venues.

It is important that the city has the spaces it needs to be a cultural reference point. Offering spaces that are well equipped, multifunctional and of good quality ensures that we are able to provide a solution to all the initiatives put forward.

Barcelona is ready to deal with any challenges that come its way. Hosting new tours, venues, events and concerts will always be a pleasure for us!

03 Palau Sant Jordi
Spanish singers Serrat y Sabina performing at Palau Sant Jordi.

What makes the Palau Sant Jordi special?
The Palau Sant Jordi is a venue with a lot of history. It was built for the 1992 Olympic Games and was opened on 21 September 1990. The city created this pavilion as a symbol of modernity, versatility and adaptability to host any type of event. This essence has been maintained over the years.

It is the largest indoor arena by capacity in Spain and this is not the only thing that makes it special. It is also special for its capacity to adapt and transform into any type of space.

The Palau Sant Jordi has hosted big international tours, as is widely known, but also international swimming and basketball competitions, shows on ice and motocross exhibitions, among other things.

The venue has hosted all these events thanks to the versatility and size of the spaces it has. The large open space and production capacity enable it to adapt to any event it is presented with.

All this, together with the team that works at the Anella with years of experience in the event production sector, ensures a high degree of excellence in the events hosted there.

Are there any other cities in Spain that could do it with another large-scale live entertainment venue?
National and international artists tour all over Spain to ensure their shows reach their audiences. It is of vital importance that other venues host these types of artists so their music can reach their fans. We want to continue being the leading venue in Barcelona for hosting these concerts.

Is there anything you would like to add?
We have gone through some very challenging years with big changes. The sector is evolving and even though the live experience needs to continue playing a leading role, there are lots of elements such as artificial intelligence, technology, new formats, that are coming along and we need to adapt to them.

At the Anella Olímpica we are firmly committed to adapting, and doing so in accordance with what the public call for, and the city demands. I am sure that over the coming years, we’ll experience some unique moments in the world of shows and it is essential that the Anella Olímpica is ready to respond to anything that comes along. I feel very proud to be a part of it!

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