Basses hum through the body, it’s tight, hot and everyone celebrates – that’s how it was at concerts, in the past. Now it is only possible with a distance, mask and little audience. How organizers want to get started again.
According to the concert promoter Semmel Concerts, artists should be able to perform again in full halls and concert halls from September.
Vaccinated and convalescent people should be allowed to attend events without keeping a distance, said managing director Dieter Semmelmann of the German Press Agency in Bayreuth. Should the politicians not allow people who do not want to be vaccinated, ‘then we would support it for a limited time’. One should not drive the industry further to zero because part of the population does not want to be vaccinated. People and companies should be able to act independently again.
Semmel Concerts, headquartered in Bayreuth, works with celebrities such as Elton John, Sarah Connor and Roland Kaiser. Semmelmann and others demand reliable perspectives in order to be able to prepare live performances well. By the end of July, the industry needs a statement on the conditions under which events will be possible from September 1st. After all, you need a lead time of at least four to six weeks before each event.
But it is precisely this security that politics does not provide. A spokesman for Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU) explains that no general statement can be made about the prospects for concert organizers. The federal states are generally responsible for regulations of the corona protective measures and the associated opening restrictions and bans. And these also differed in their design with regard to cultural events. ‘In addition, protective measures are linked to the course of the pandemic and insofar no reliable long-term statements are possible.’
This is of little help to the organizers. ‘After a year and a half without income and prospects, everyone is really desperate,’ says Jens Michow, President of the Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV). For this year the industry expects a minus of 98 percent, i.e. a loss of almost eleven billion euros in revenue. Michow cites a survey by the Munich Ifo Institute from June. According to this, 70 percent of the companies in the event industry feared for their existence.
On Tuesday there were new regulations for large cultural events in Bavaria, for example. If the number of infections is low, 35 percent of the places may now be occupied, a maximum of 20,000. The following applies: a distance of 1.5 meters, mask requirement indoors and access only for vaccinated, convalescent or negatively tested people.
The rescue? Barely. At best, half-full concert halls are not profitable. “That may work in publicly funded institutions. For concert and tour organizers, however, performances only make sense if you can earn money with them. That is impossible under the current conditions, ”says Michow. The rent for large locations such as the Munich Olympic Hall alone could be in the six-figure range. If only 35 percent of the tickets could then be sold, that would not be economically feasible.
The federal government offers a special fund for cultural events. The profitability aid provided there only applies to events with up to 2000 visitors. But Semmel Concerts alone has more than 100 concerts from September to December with 2,500 to 10,000 tickets sold. Although there is a failure protection for larger events, this does not compensate for economic deficits.
If nothing changes, many organizers will probably only have to cancel and postpone everything again – like since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago. The catch-up dates are increasing in the meantime. ‘In principle, we are postponing well over 1,000 events that should take place in 2020 or 2021,’ says Semmelmann. ‘It is almost no longer possible to get free appointments because the halls and locations are all so full.’