The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Coachella Cancelled - The Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals have been cancelled this year. Both events were meant to have taken place in California in April, and had been rescheduled for October. But health officials have said they are "not comfortable moving forward" - especially given how Coachella is one of the world's biggest music festivals, bringing half a million fans to an open-air site east of Los Angeles.
Cameron Kaiser, who signed the order cancelling the festivals for 2020, said: "I am concerned as indications grow that COVID-19 could worsen in the fall. Given the projected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward." Kaiser stressed that the decision was not taken lightly - and he acknowledged many people will be affected. "My first priority is the health of the community," he added.
Fringe Benefits - The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has been given a special funding package from the Scottish Government to help the festival survive its cancellation this year. A £1m interest-free loan has been granted to the Fringe Society, which is the charity that oversees the annual performance festival. It will also receive £249,000 in grants from the City of Edinburgh Council (£100,000) and the Scottish government’s relief fund for businesses deemed vital to the country’s economy (£149,000).
This year’s fringe, along with all of Edinburgh’s summer festivals, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the first time the event has not taken place since it was founded more than 70 years ago. The funding package agreed by the government is intended to mitigate the "significant losses" felt by the cancellation of the 2020 fringe, as well as providing funds to support the thousands of artists, venues and companies who have been financially affected.
The Fringe Society’s chief executive, Shona McCarthy, described the funding as "a life raft" and said it would offer proper support to many parts of the fringe’s ecosystem. "This festival is about much more than three weeks in August. It’s an embodiment of how culture and creativity unites us, and in this incredibly difficult time, we’re grateful to be working so closely with our partners at Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and City of Edinburgh Council on this common goal," she said. The £1m loan will be repaid by the Fringe Society over six years.
Millennium Blues - The Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay will remain closed for at least the rest of 2020 with up to 250 jobs affected. An estimated 165 casual roles are affected with a further 85 permanent posts placed under threat of redundancy as the venue faces an anticipated drop in revenue of around £20m. A spokesman said the WMC will be shut until “at least” January 2021 but added: “It is anticipated that the centre may have to remain shut for even longer and a decision on closure up to April 2021 will be made in September. If the centre remains shut for a year it is anticipated that the organisation will lose around £20m in revenue.”
The venue, which attracts 1.6m visitors a year and contributes £70m to the Welsh economy, has also announced the cancellation of its annual international Festival of Voice, which was due to take place between 29 October and 1 November this year. Productions that have been cancelled or postponed include The Lion King, the Welsh National Opera’s autumn season, The Book of Mormon, and The Phantom of the Opera, which were all due to take place in the 1,850-seat Donald Gordon Theatre.
Ticket Prices - Ticket resale website Viagogo's merger with rival StubHub could lead to higher prices for concert fans and other customers, the market regulator has warned. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it found concerns over the "loss of competition" if the proposed deal was to go ahead, owing to the popularity and dominance of the two websites.
Viagogo and StubHub are the UK's two largest secondary ticketing firms and hold more than 80% of the country's market share, the CMA said. After looking into evidence from third parties and the companies' internal documents, the CMA found that Viagogo and StubHub were "close competitors in an already very concentrated market with limited alternatives"
Its phase one investigation also found that prices for tickets sold on the websites could rise as a result of the merger, after consulting with consumer groups, customers and competitors. Andrea Gomes da Silva, CMA's executive director for markets and mergers, said: "Viagogo is already the largest secondary ticketing company in the UK by some considerable margin and has purchased an established rival, with no other significant competitors in the market.
"We are therefore concerned that this transaction could lead to customers losing out through higher prices, less innovation and a lack of real choice."
Farewell - Welsh singer Ricky Valance has died at the age of 84, his agent has confirmed. Valance, who was born David Spencer, became the first Welshman to have a solo UK Number One hit with the song Tell Laura I Love Her in 1960. His agent said he had been diagnosed with dementia and had been in hospital since before the start of lockdown.
(Jim Evans)
16 June 2020

Latest Issue. . .

Tweets from our Friends