Industry body hopes live music experiment could help pave way for return of gigs

Robert Fitzpatrick, chief executive of the Odyssey Trust and co-founder of the Arena Resilience Alliance, said they hope it will prove a game-changer.
Robert Fitzpatrick, chief executive of the Odyssey Trust and co-founder of the Arena Resilience Alliance, said they hope it will prove a game-changer.

It is hoped a live music experiment will pave the way for the return of music gigs and sports events, an industry body said.

Live events have been cancelled across the world amid strict public health measures introduced by governments trying to curb the spread of Covid-19.

But a series of five intimate test concerts hosted by the Rockhal arena in Luxembourg next month planned with stringent health measures could help to create a model to bring live events back.

The move will come just ahead of the Arena Resilience Alliance’s (ARA) second virtual conference, #AGameofTwoHalves: The Return Leg.

The Because Music Matters concerts, to take place between February 10-14, will be hosted in conjunction with the national health inspection authority.

Events will be limited to 100 people per night, with strict physical distancing enforced.

Masks will be compulsory, and attendees will be tested for Covid-19 prior to the event and again seven days later to allow close monitoring by local health bodies.

The ARA, an advocacy initiative established by the European Arenas Association (EAA), will host a virtual conference on February 18 to explore how arenas and large capacity venues across Europe are preparing for a safe and sustainable reopening.

The event will also explore what support the live events sector needs from policymakers on both a national and EU level to enable long-term resilience and future growth.

It is set to be attended by high-level speakers representing EU institutions and national governments as well as the sports and live music sectors.

Olivier Toth, chief executive of Rockhal in Luxembourg and co-founder of the ARA, said the Because Music Matters showcase at Rockhal is an “important step forward in testing the safety measures we can employ to support our back-to-business strategies”.

Robert Fitzpatrick, chief executive of the Odyssey Trust, owners of the SSE Arena in Belfast, and co-founder of the ARA, said he believes international collaboration can help venues get back to business.

Christmas Appeal – Belfast
Volunteers sorting Christmas food parcels and hampers on behalf of the North Belfast Advice Partnership last December at the SSE Arena Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

“As the advocacy platform for European arenas, the ARA is proud to provide an opportunity for the industry to come together with key EU decision-makers to prepare for a return to live events, whilst working to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities and the sustainability of our industry, which will be central to the economic and societal recovery of countries across Europe,” he said.

“Together, we can build regional and national frameworks, with international collaboration that will help us get back to business.”

A concert by The Script was the last live music event at the SSE in Belfast on March 3.

There was also a Belfast Giants game on March 6 and a gig by comedian Paddy Raff on March 7 before the arena halted large-scale events under Northern Ireland’s coronavirus regulations.

Since then, the arena hosted local food banks in December who needed a large space to allow volunteers to be socially distanced while gearing up their efforts.

The ARA’s #AGameofTwoHalves: The Return Leg virtual conference will be delivered in partnership with the European Arenas Association and IQ Magazine.

The event will be streamed live via the EAA YouTube channel and Facebook page.