Staff from 22 Chicago music venues talk about how far they still are from normal—and what it’ll take to keep them around till we all get there.
“Independent music venues were among the first businesses undone by COVID-19. They rallied quickly to launch the National Independent Venue Association, which in April began publicly urging congressional leaders to help—at that point it had more than 800 member venues, and that number has since topped 2,000. NIVA is pushing the federal government to create new initiatives to support small businesses such as music venues, most of which will remain closed until the rollout of a vaccine. The Paycheck Protection Program built into the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) has done little to address the problems venues face, largely because 75 percent of PPP money must go toward payroll in order for the loans to be forgivable. Many venues are barely paying anyone—they remain completely shut down, with no source of revenue at all—and thus they’ve got more to worry about from rent and other overhead expenses.”
Some of the most prominent artists from the UK’s dance music sector have joined forces with festivals, nightclubs and industry figures to issue an urgent plea for support from the government.
The #LetUsDance campaign pleads the government to recognise dance music clubs and events as an important part of the nation’s art and culture in parity with the wider live music sector, to ensure equal access to support.
The campaign also encourages fans, artists and industry professionals to post a photo from a recent club night or dance festival, along with the #LetUsDance hashtag, with a note supporting its place within arts and culture. Supporters can also send a letter to their local MP to emphasise the importance of the sector.
“Nightclubs and festivals are the beating heart of the UK dance scene; providing collective joy to millions of fans each year, providing employment and incomes for an interdependent network of hundreds of thousands of people, while contributing hundreds of millions to the economy,”– Greg Marshall, general manager of the Association for Electronic Music (Afem).
The call for support comes following the live music industry’s #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, which preceded the announcement of a £1.57 billion support package for Britain’s arts and culture sector.
A global collaboration of some of the foremost minds on nightlife governance and urban planning, spearheaded by nighttime.org’s VibeLab, the Global Nighttime Recovery Plan (GNRP) has released its first chapter today, focusing on use of outdoor space.
“Pent-up demand for social activity combined with the continued restrictions on use of indoor areas has led to a sudden increase in demand for outdoor space,” the report states.
“In times of closed clubs, postponed festivals and cancelled concerts, outdoor spaces play a key role in enabling safer gatherings, and providing opportunities for festival, club and event operators to stay active.”
The GNRP’s first chapter features case studies from open-air dance events in Berlin, Germany and large-scale pavement cafes in Vilnius, Lithuania, also referencing examples from Paris and Orlando as it analyses the challenges and opportunities for global cities in unlocking open-air public space for nightlife purposes.
In response to the severe fragility of nightlife industries all over the world due to COVID-19 restrictions, and acknowledging the universal need to socialise, the GNRP aims to push global dialogue towards local government action and innovation, resulting in safe and realistic solutions for the recovery of nighttime economies.
“Willingness to work together, experiment, and rethink uses of open spaces will be essential for the months and years ahead.”Mark Adam Harold – Chapter One GNRP
Read Chapter 1 in full. Open Air Nightlife and Covid-19: Managing outdoor space and sound.
It has never been more obvious that we need genuine local government by the people, for the people. The pressure caused by the pandemic has shown that city authorities need to be close to their populations, to communicate clearly with their residents, to win the trust of their business communities
We invite the nightlife community to…
- Build the dialogue online by circulating the GNRP, and sharing examples of open-air nightlife practices in your area.
- Communicate GNRP ideas and resources with your local government and petition them to take action with public space.
We also invite local governments and nightlife stakeholders to…
- Sign up to a Meet the Authors conference call on Tuesday the 28th of July, 3pm CET, to speak with the creators of the first chapter on use of outdoor space.
- Analyse local opportunities and challenges in adopting best practices via 1:1 consulting sessions.
- Develop an action plan unique to your city.
German scientists are recruiting volunteers for a “coronavirus experiment” which plans to equip 4,000 pop music fans with tracking gadgets and bottles of fluorescent disinfectant to better understand how Covid-19 could be prevented from spreading at large indoor concerts.
As reported by The Guardian, the event will feature singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko, and be held at an indoor stadium in the German city of Leipzig on 22 August. Though technically an experiment, it aims to simulate the pre-pandemic large-scale concert experience as much as possible.
“We are trying to find out if there could be a middle way between the old and the new normal that would allow organisers to fit enough people into a concert venue to not make a loss,” said Stefan Moritz, head of clinical infectious diseases at the University hospital in Halle and the experiment’s coordinator.
The scientists behind the concert hope to present their findings in early October.
Since the worldwide lockdowns of spring 2020, VibeLab has initiated a global dialogue among night mayors and commissioners, scholars and academics, resulting in the Global Nighttime Recovery Plan.
Developed in discussion with urban designers, planners, and nighttime industry leaders, and drawing from nighttime cities implementing responsive public health policies and strategic recovery measures, the plan utilises case studies to present workable solutions for cities of many sizes, geographical and economic contexts, and multiple models of nighttime governance.
The plan has been structured into a set of themes that address specific issues that cities are facing globally. The first chapter, released next week is led by Mark Adam Harold from Vilnius Night Alliance and will cover the many facets involved in operating Open-air nightlife. A guide to wether it is feasible for night-time venues to operate as open-air establishments? What implications does that have for safety and quality of life of patrons, employees and city residents?
Wired magazine covers the difficulties that nightclubs will face as a result of Corona virus.
“Nightclub owners, like those of other businesses, find themselves in a difficult balancing act between keeping their venues alive and protecting the health of the public. As Amsterdam’s first night mayor, Mirik Milan acted as the go-between between the city’s nightclubs and government. Today, he runs the VibeLab agency together with Lutz Leichsenring, a spokesperson for the Clubcommission Berlin to help the industry back on its feet. “Everybody’s saying ‘We’re making 100 per cent of the decisions with 50 per cent of the information’ and when it comes to nightclubs and nighttime establishments, that’s really problematic,” says Milan. The duo is working with other night mayors, club owners, as well as urban researchers from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania on a recovery plan for the industry.”
The first chapter of the Global Nighttime Recovery Plan is due to release next week, stay tuned on Nighttime.org for guides on how governments can support with venues and event industry by utilising outdoor and public space for reopening in the open air.
“While nightclubs are finding creative ways to reopen safely with distanced seating, contact tracing, online ordering systems, and better ventilation and hygiene, it won’t be possible to remove all risk factors. It is unlikely we’ll see club managers walking around the venue telling people not to laugh or sing. “You don’t want your staff to be policing people that are speaking too loudly,” says Milan from VibeLab.
Data on movement in cities suggests businesses should get creative after hours to weather the Covid-19 recession.
Urbis, a city planning and policy consultant group has collected data which highlights the economic potential that operating outside standard office hours would have upon the retail, food and entertainment businesses in Melbournes CBD district.
The Central Business District which traditionally relied on office workers, has been hit hard by Corona virus, as people are increasingly working from home.
“Calling for a more vibrant night-time economy, including standup comedy in local hairdressers and after-dark art exhibitions in bookshops, could play a crucial role in Australia’s post-pandemic financial recovery, data tracking of people’s movement suggests.”
Tokyo, the Japanese capital recorded 224 coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily tally since the pandemic began.
The Authorities had previously refused to give nightlife businesses economic support during the pandemic, but have changed tack after 80% of Thursday’s infections were among people in their 20s and 30s.
Many of them were identified after more than 3,000 tests were carried out in Tokyo entertainment districts, including Shinjuku and Ikebukuro.
The Tokyo metropolitan government will pay 500,000 yen ($4,670) to nightclubs and similar establishments that close for 10 days or more.
Hosts and hostesses, who engage customers in conversation over drinks, who are found to have coronavirus are to be paid 100,000 yen ($934) to stay off work.
The DJ addressed the recent wave of illegal parties in the UK. Carl Cox has said that Illegal raves during pandemic are “not the answer”. The techno DJ recently spoke in an interview with Sky News about the resurgence of illegal raves and parties in the UK, blaming it on the government and the lack of a clear timeline on clubs and festivals reopening.
Cox told Sky News “These illegal parties are basically done out of frustration,” he said. “Just done out of showing it’s our right to do what we want to do. It’s not the answer to this.”
While pubs and restaurants have been given the green light to open from last Saturday (4th July), clubs and music venues remain shuttered in the UK since closing their doors four months ago.
Elsewhere in the world, clubs in the Western Australian city of Perth were able to reopen in June, as the state moves into the fourth phase of reopening following the coronavirus pandemic.
After weeks of desperate warnings that the UK was facing an irreversible cultural catastrophe without targeted support, ministers announced a package that it said would protect the future of the country’s museums, galleries, theatres and music venues.
The package includes:
- A £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England, consisting of £270m in loans and £880m in grants.
- £100m of targeted support for England’s national cultural institutions and English Heritage.
- £120m of capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England paused because of the pandemic.
- Extra money for devolved administrations, with £97m for Scotland, £59m for Wales and £33m for Northern Ireland.