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What will happen to live music in Italy?

Between false starts, clubs that close and other countries that have already solved the problem

We spent a summer watching videos of friends, followers and colleagues who danced, sweated, had fun at concerts and festivals abroad without masks, chairs and distance. We have seen it but we have not experienced it, because in Italy for over 18 months the world of culture and musical entertainment has been at a standstill, or rather, seated. From Monday October 11 a new DPCM has been in force for the industry in view of the autumn, but, more than a week later, the highly anticipated text of Palazzo Chigi that was finally supposed to represent the light at the end of the tunnel for managers, artistic directors and artists, however, seem to have left more perplexity than certainties.

Gianluca Gozzi, founder of the Circolo della Musica of Rivoli, Turin, and deus ex machina of the ToDays Festival, considers the DPCM "confused, shameful and humiliating towards the entire sector after two years in which it was stopped." "I do not deny that we are still far from a professional serenity that normalizes the situation" echoes Albert Hofer, one of the two founding members of the Milanese Le Cannibale. A confusion to which is added perplexity about the reasons that led to granting the standing dance only in the clubs, leaving the position on the seats at concerts nebulous.

Giancarlino, DJ and founder of the historic Roman club Goa adds: "For large clubs, this latest decree can give some hope, but for medium-small clubs, a 50% reopening becomes unsustainable, since the expenses and costs are too high compared to the hypothetical income." A position shared by Gozzi who points out how the backbone of live music in Italy is made up of medium-small clubs - approved to accommodate a standing audience - and not exclusively of arenas and theaters.

Furthermore, the rule according to which the capacity of indoor concerts must be halved from 100% to 50% in the event of a transition, even sudden, of a region from white to yellow zone seems to protect little concert organizers, artists and the paying public.  According to Gozzi, “further proof of lack of knowledge of the sector by those who claim to regulate”. There will be those who will cancel, those who will reimburse and those who will not, increasing the confusion and undermining the recognition of the sector. However according to Gozzi, the problems of the DPCM have deep roots, prior to the pandemic: in a country where culture represents less than 1% of GDP, the DPCM highlights all the contradictions of an antiquated and stagnant conception of live music, between high places (theaters) and low places (clubs, clubs, dance halls) and above all a deep distance between politics from the sector and culture in evolution.

The only clear message from Palazzo Chigi to the world of entertainment in recent months has been that of total disinterest, also the son of a fragmentary trade union representation that struggles to mediate between positions at the antipodes, such as those of a pop star from a sports hall and those of an up-and-coming band or underground DJ. As a result, event organizers have no choice but to reinvent themselves. The founder of Goa would like to do is give space to local realities: km0 music, offer the public quality entertainment by taking the best DJs in the Roman territory.
There are those like Le Cannibale who have been able, and had to, reinvent themselves by involving the musical sphere of their own artistic reality, such as the electronic music and video art review at the Triennale or the project at the Hoepli Planetarium.

Other companies have tried their hand at an even more difficult task: to create new entertainment for the new waves of generation Z. This was the case with Ecosistemi Festival, the hyperpop festival held in September in Vesuvio Eco Camping with the idea of ​​bringing live the new sounds that emerged during the pandemic, therefore not only hyperpop but also the electronics that gravitates around, such as Arssalendo and Thru Collected.

Furthermore, legislative gaps can have wider social and generational repercussions, even in the case of festivals such as TODays that perform a service to the community, bringing - exception in the Italian summer just passed - the cream of foreign artists in difficult contexts of the Turin suburbs. The stalemate of the industry risks clipping the wings in the bud to emerging scenes and events based on the musical avant-garde and the very young audience.

“Most of the artists, all being 18 and 20, based their musical and social relationships online, so the Festival was also a chance to meet live, play and be together. An artist even came from Iran to participate in the Festival. The same participation is proof of the fact that now more than ever there is a need for live contact. "

The DPCM, which arrives late compared to the restarts of the rest of Europe and beyond - where, moreover, the use of the green pass is not always required, as in England where the festivals have restarted at full capacity, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. One wonders, however, if the docility with which the sector has surrendered for almost two years to government impositions is not also one of the causes of the lack of attention paid to it by a government which, moreover, defined in the words of its ex prime minister the artists as those "who make us laugh".