- 23 Jul 20
Organisers are looking for 4,000 volunteers, in order to research how indoor concerts will be held in the months ahead.
German scientists have revealed details of an experiment taking place next month, in order to research the transmission risk of Covid-19 in an indoor concert setting. For the project, entitled RESTART-19, researchers from the University Hospital in Halle (Saale) have issued a call for volunteers to attend the concert experiment at the Quarterback Immobilien Arena Leipzig on August 22 – "to simulate the risk of a [Covid-19] outbreak" and "to research framework conditions under which such events can be carried out again. . . without endangering the population."
Over 1,000 volunteers are currently signed up for the experiment.
According to RESTART-19's website, three scenarios will be carried out, using a total of 4,000 test subjects. The first scenario will simulate a concert with 4,000 spectators – carried out like a regular pre-pandemic event. In the second scenario, the 4,000 spectators will be admitted to the venue "according to an optimised hygiene concept and significantly larger distances between the participants."
In the final scenario, a distance of 1.5 metres will be maintained by spectators on the bleachers, with only 2,000 people attending.
In order for the experiment to be as realistic as possible, popular German singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko will perform, and the crowd's arrival and departure by tram will also be simulated.
News of such efforts will likely be welcomed by those in the live events industry, who have seen their livelihoods decimated in the face of the Covid-19 lockdown. This week, efforts to reintroduce live music in Ireland through drive-in gigs were quashed by government guidelines.
In an official statement announcing the cancellation of the Live At The Drive-In series, which was set to kick off on Friday with Gavin James, promoters MPI and 360 Events expressed their disappointment.
"After months of work and planning to try to bring some live music back to Ireland this summer, we are all devastated," they stated. "We are very disappointed with this decision. The live music, arts and events sector is on its knees, we would appeal to the government to support this sector and all of its workers and suppliers."
Speaking to Hot Press last month, Shane Dunne, the managing director of Indiependence, discussed the impact the lockdown has had on the industry, and outlined the aims of the newly launched Event Production Industry Covid-19 Group (EPIC).
"There are 1000s of highly skilled people working in this industry," Dunne explained. "A lot of these people were the first ones to shut down, and will be the last ones back to work. Over the next period of time, we need supports at a government level to retain those skills. We need to keep that skill set, so that when the time comes to go back to theatres, venues, outdoor concerts and festivals, we’ll have the staff to do it.
"By the start of August, most industries will be back to work – but we could be looking at eight months," he continues. "We might have some small things in meantime, but that will only last for a couple of weeks, and then you’re into the winter. People are going to be facing months without any income. To retain the skills, and keep those people within this industry, the wage subsidy scheme and the Covid payment are going to be hugely important."
EPIC's other key proposals include an extension of bank loan and lease payment breaks until mass gatherings return; the development of a business grant support of 20% of 2018 turnover for SMEs in the events sector; for insurance companies to re-evaluate insurance policies to reflect reduced risk in public liability, event liability and vehicle insurance; a reduction of the VAT rate of 9% for the event sector for three years; and the removal of commercial rates for empty places of entertainment and the warehousing of event equipment.
This weekend, artists across the country, including Soulé, James Vincent McMorrow, The Coronas, Denise Chaila and Picture This are coming together for Songs From An Empty Room – in support of Minding Creative Minds and the Association of Irish Stage Technicians (AIST) Hardship Fund. Airing on RTÉ Two and 2FM from 8.30pm on Saturday, July 25, the event will feature performances in some of the country's most iconic venues, including The Olympia Theatre, Dublin; Dolan's, Limerick; INEC, Killarney; Roisin Dubh, Galway; and Cyprus Avenue, Cork.