After the new decision of the Minister of Health to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people in confined spaces, concert halls and festivals are in the process of waiting. If cancellations and other postponements have already been announced when the critical gauge was still capped at 5,000 spectators, the entire sector is waiting to see how the health crisis evolves in order to take, or not, decisions that could have a disastrous economic impact.
Government releases may be crystal clear, but the situation is not. “Nationally, all gatherings of more than 1,000 people are now banned. The prefects and the ministries will put together a list of events considered useful for the life of the nation: events will be part of it, such as competitions or even the use of public transport ”, Olivier Véran said last night, the Minister of Health. So far by the ministerial decree of March 4 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the critical gauge was set at 5,000 people. However, in rooms that potentially exceed this gauge, all is not clear.
A l’AccorHotel Arena for example, 18,000 seats, the concerts of Ninho (March 12), Tryo (March 13), Matt Pokora (March 14), or Andrea Boccelli (March 19) are postponed. But the following ones, like those of Ateez (March 17), or Cowboys Fringants (March 20) are for the moment maintained. Not for long a priori. In fact, despite the ban that has just fallen, more drastic than the previous one, we are still giving ourselves a little time to see the situation evolve, and especially to communicate. Ditto at the U Arena in Nanterre, which canceled The Night of Brittany of March 7, but maintained, for the moment, the concert of Paul McCartney on May 26.
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In fact, everyone is hanging on this Covid-19 coronavirus and on the lips of the Ministry of Solidarity and Health. Some could not afford this waiting time, like the festival Rock The Pistes which was to take place from March 15 to 21 bringing together The Stranglers, Naive New Beaters, Skip The Use or IAM in different resorts in the Alps, and Tomorrowland Winter, a large electronic mass for 200,000 people scheduled for Alpe d’Huez from March 14 to 21. Their size, of course, but also their ability to bring together festival-goers from many countries in a border region, sealed their fate and their outright cancellation. Ditto for the festival Chorus, scheduled for March 25 to 29, and bringing together more than 5,000 people in an enclosed space, namely the Seine Musicale in Boulogne-Billancourt, which formalized the cancellation of its 2020 edition on Saturday by press release.
In the Zéniths de France, which constitutes a large part of the 90 rooms whose capacity can potentially exceed 5,000 people, it is still the expectation. That of Paris, for example, specifies: “Subject to possible future changes in government measures relating to places open to the public, no concert will be canceled in the next 15 days.” Being able to bring together 6,804 places and bring the gauge below 3000, it is therefore, like the others, in a middle ground where certain events fall under the ban, and others not. For those who are concerned, ditto: we wait to see how all this evolves.
“An unprecedented situation for everyone”
What is expected is the passage or not of the pandemic from stage 2 to stage 3. This would mean that the virus has spread among the population, but contrary to what one might think, there would not necessarily be a harder impact on French concerts. On the contrary, as explained by the Printemps de Bourges team, which is due to take place from April 21 to 26, and whose largest stage brings together more than 5,000 people under a marquee: “A passage in stage 3 would rather go in the direction, paradoxically, of less restrictions. The government then focuses on managing the health crisis, on infected people, and not on banning gatherings. In stage 3, the pandemic is considered to have already reached the population. We were the first surprised, but since last weekend, this is the speech that we are given. ”
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The Printemps de Bourges is fortunate to take place mainly outdoors. Is the main tent considered an enclosed space? “The legal terms are not very clear. Is an open-air performance hall a more enclosed space than a football stadium or a metro train? We can do away with the marquee covers, we can consider removing the entire structure to go into the open air… No solution is established, but all are taken into account. This is an unprecedented situation for us, but also for the government. The authorities are aware of the stakes that events like ours represent for the territory, for tourism, for the image… They are working with us to ensure that the event takes place. ” But make no mistake, no one is serene, far from it.
Tickets are no longer selling
The impact on the entertainment industry, and therefore the music industry, could be enormous. Moreover, it is already being felt since three days after the first government measures announced last weekend, the industry recorded a drop in 40% of ticket sales. At Cheyenne Productions, which notably runs artists like Gims, Vegedream or the Star 80 project, director Claude Cyndecki has taken the lead: “With Gims, we have a tour of about fifteen dates which was to start on Friday in Rouen, and end in Marseille on April 4th. Everything was sold out: Nantes 9000 people, Rouen 7000… Big gauges. I postponed everything. I cannot mobilize a team of seventy technicians, trucks, equipment to play once here, once there. No, it was better to do something very positive, reassure everyone, and take shelter. Everything will take place between June and July. ”
As part of the tours already scheduled, tickets are sold, the shows are ready, which amortizes the costs linked to postponements. “With Gims, we repeat the show in Bondy, everything is done, everything is fixed, continue Claude Cyndecki. It’s just going to take a day or two of rehearsals, and that’s it. The fees aren’t huge, but you’ll have to be careful. The anguish, it is especially on the new shows that we launch. The tickets no longer sell, and there is the trap. I’m a little afraid for the future, it’s no longer really useful to communicate, people are not in the mood for the show. And this is normal. We can lose half a season, but it’s unclear. And since everything is blurry, it’s impossible to argue. ”
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The worst case scenario
There are also certain areas of France, where cases have been detected, which are subject to much stronger bans. This is the case with Morbihan, where all gatherings are prohibited. Seminars, salons, discotheques, theaters, auditoriums… If this were to become widespread, it goes without saying that the economic consequences for the music sector would be disastrous. Even if, let us remember, a transition to stage 3 would not necessarily be the worst case scenario, economically speaking. In the meantime, everyone is patient, chomping at the bit, and above all hopes for a decline in the health crisis. But nothing, nothing at all, is so far certain.