archive photo of Moosebar XXL

Rampage among the young for events, but older audience needs more reassurance

The Flemish cultural sector is reviving after the pandemic.  Ticket sales are up, but in most cases old tickets are being rebooked. A significant part of the sector’s traditional audience is taking a wait & see approach. Events targeting the young are doing remarkably well though.

Jan Van Esbroeck, CEO at the Sportpaleis Group: “We have to rebook over a million tickets.  People want tickets that were already purchased to be honoured before they start thinking about new events”.

“Most foreign artists are playing safe and waiting for ticket sales to pick up. On the other hand, you need diverse international offerings to tempt potential concert goers.”

Singer Bart Peeters announced the resumption of his concerts.  Seven are being held at the Lotto Arena, but tickets are virtually impossible to get because some 50,000 tickets have been lying in people’s drawers for two years now.

It’s a different situation at events targeting the young: “Here there is a true rampage” says Van Esbroeck, who points to dance events like Moosebar XXL, Reverze and I Want to Dance Again.

Mike Naert, director at the Leuven concert hall Het Depot, speaks of a lack of confidence and a certain degree of fear among the general public.  He blames the communication by the authorities.  “Do vaccinations work?  Has the Empire of Freedom arrived, or hasn’t it?  They are creating too much confusion”.

He is seeking a clear message of confidence from the federal and Belgian governments given the efforts the sector has made.

Smaller cultural centres too speak of slow ticket sales. Gilles Ledure, director at Flagey, fears the recovery will take two years. “People are taking more decisions last minute than before corona.  Ticket sales are hard to estimate”.

Requiring people to produce their Covid Safe Ticket too proves to be an extra hurdle for many. To install the CovidSafe app, you need identification via e.g. the Itsme app and for older people that isn’t that straight forward. In Bruges the Concert Hall has set up a special helpdesk to assist customers.

Elton John is the first big international name to perform at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp in October

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