May 16, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

European Festival Organizers Optimistic About 2022 Season, Update

6 min read
Athens Rocks.The promoters already decided there will be no festival in 2022 either.

For international touring to return it is vital that Europe’s markets fully open back up. The latest case in point: Italian sensation Måneskin, who were forced to postpone their upcoming UK and European tour dates due to venue capacity issues resulting from the member states’ inconsistent response to coronavirus. 

In Greece, live music events are currently taking place, but since the appearance of Omicron in December under heavy restrictions. The new variant caused the government to introduce new restrictions, which include the mandate to wear a face mask at both indoor and outdoor venues, only host a seated audience at events, and limit its capacity to a certain percentage, depending on the capacity of each venue.

Only vaccinated guests or guests with proof of recovery are allowed to enter events. The same measures apply to all event genres, from sports to music, irrespective of whether they’re taking place indoors or outdoors.

However, as Nana Trandou, co-founder and managing director of High Priority Promotions, and promoter of Athens Rocks, told Pollstar, “it is expected that in the following weeks new announcements will be made and these measures will be loosened.” Her team still decided to cancel Athens Rocks in 2022. “We consider the situation still uncertain for a festival to take place and we would like to avoid the possibility of a last-minute cancellation, Trandou explained. 

The festival in the Greek capital of Athens depends on an international lineup, and there are still no concrete opening plans for Europe as a whole. “Moreover,” Trandou continued,  “the music festivals in Greece haven’t received any financial support from the government during the pandemic. Therefore, we prefer to be optimistic and focus on the summer of 2023, when AthensRocks will have its most fabulous lineup ever!”

It doesn’t mean her team has been standing idly by. “We have planned several headline shows for this year, with the hope of overcoming any difficulties that might occur due to COVID restrictions,” she said, highlighting High Priority’s Iron Maiden show, scheduled for July 16 at the Athens Olympic Stadium.

 

“It will be the biggest and the most fantastic show we have ever seen in Greece for many years,” the veteran promoter said, “we can’t wait to see that iconic artist in an iconic venue, the home of the Olympic Games in 2004.”

Tobias NicolaiThe crowd at Roskilde Festival 2014.The organizers of Denmark’s biggest event are optimistic that coronavirus restrictions will have lifted in time for this year’s summer season.

In Denmark venues can open, but only if the audience is seated. Capacities are limited to a maximum of 1,500 people, but only if they’re sectioned off into three 500-capacity groups. “This means that a lot of venues, for which a seated audience is relevant, have opened and are holding concerts,” Henrik Bondo Nielsen, head of division, service and safety at Roskilde Festival, told Pollstar, “there is a requirement to use a mouthpiece when not sitting down and a valid Corona Passport must be shown to enter.”

Venues weren’t supposed to open at all until at least February. But the generally mild nature of Omicron led the Danish government to allow 500-capacity indoor shows with only a few days’ notice. The short-term nature of the announcement means that a lot of venues remain closed, aiming to open around February 1, when the country’s live professionals expect another loosening of restrictions. There is, in theory, no capacity limit on outdoor events at the moment, but that’s irrelevant, given the current temperatures in Denmark.

As this pandemic has shown, most live music venues cannot operate in an economically viable manner with capacity restrictions in place. Add the fact that many are facing staff-shortages, and the constant risk of COVID-related cancellations, and it’s no surprise that most concerts in Denmark have been pushed back to later in the year.

International touring was still nothing but a “theoretical option,” according to Roskilde’s program director Anders Wahren, who remains optimistic for the festival’s 2022 edition, scheduled for June 25–July 2 with a lineup led by Dua Lipa, Tyler the Creator, Haim and St. Vincent. “Although we see a lot of cases right now in Denmark, hospitalizations and mortality rates are way down compared to the earlier variants of the virus,” Wahren explained, “Even the more pessimistic experts are now talking about the end of the pandemic. Looking at the last two summers we feel very confident that all restrictions for live events will be lifted well in advance of our 50th edition this summer.”

Nielsen confirmed, “Omicron, which is the dominant variant in DK, has apparently proven to be more contagious than previous variants, but also less serious for those affected by the disease. Against this background, the Danish health authorities have recommended that restrictions on cultural life can be eased.

“I think there is generally a good feeling about the coming spring and the  summer. The relatively high infection rates combined with a large percentage, who have received [three vaccines] leads to an assumption of a generally robust population. We therefore expect, or hope, for a summer without restrictions. The mood is cautiously positive, and our large voluntary organization is well underway with the preparations.”

Update, Jan. 26: The Danish government today announced that it would lift all coronavirus restrictions on the cultural sector, on the grounds that it reportedly no longer classifies coronavirus as a “socially critical disease”. 
Scene from a past Ruisrock edition.Saara AutereScene from a past Ruisrock edition.

In Finland, live events are restricted differently in different parts of the country. Some areas are allowing outdoor events, which is an even less appealing option in Finland at this time of the year than it is in Denmark. Indoor events face restrictions across the country, a COVID passport is temporarily not in use. 

Piia Lääveri is the executive producer of Ruisrock festival, which takes place on the island of Ruissalo in Turku, and is scheduled for July 8-10. The current lineup is led by Megan Thee Stallion, Martin Garrix and Major Lazer. According to Lääveri, the Finnish institute for health and welfare’s risk assessment placed live music without fixed seating in the highest risk category for events, while theatre and opera in the lowest-risk categories. “The umbrella organizations in the music and events sector are trying to tackle this risk assessment, because the institute for health and welfare has been unable to show, which data and research it is build on,” she explained.

Lääveri feels “slightly optimistic” about Ruisrock, “and actually the ticket sales is going well. There’s a lot of pressure on the government to ease restrictions and re-enforce the use of the COVID passport come February. Also, the Finnish institute for health and welfare predicts that approximately 80% of the population will catch the Omicron variant by March. After that, there is very little reason to keep tight restrictions in place.”

Nature One, promoted by i-Motion, is one of EuropeThomas Niedermueller/Getty ImagesNature One, promoted by i-Motion, is one of EuropeThis picture shows the open air stage at the former U.S. missile base Pydna in Kastellaun, Germany, Aug. 3, 2019.

In Germany, restrictions differ in all of its 16 states. Most allow small-capacity events as long as the following criteria are met: means to track and trace the audience in order to retrace contacts made at the event; visitors show proof of having received at least two vaccines or having recovered from coronavirus. In some states event promoters also demand a negative test done on event day in addition to the above mentioned health proofs. The requirement for this test usually lifts if eventgoers have received three doses of the vaccine. 

Some states only ask for the additional test at indoor events, but not outdoors, such as Rhineland-Palatinate for instance, where the event capacity was limited to 1,000 visitors at press time.

Pollstar reached out to Oliver Vordemvenne, CEO of i-Motion GmbH, promoter of Nature One, scheduled for Aug. 5-7. He’s “optimistic” about the festival season 2022 in Germany, pointing out that some large-scale outdoor events went ahead even last summer under certain restrictions, such as only allowing those vaccinated or recovered on site. What’s changed since last year, Vordemvenne said, was the fact that 72% of German’s have now gotten the vaccine.”

 


https://www.pollstar.com/article/european-festival-organizers-optimistic-about-2022-season-149528

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