No getting a beer, no dancing and no singing along: Corona draws a line through the magic of the pop stage

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Everything that makes a pop stage unique has disappeared due to the corona measures. The magic between audience and artists is hard to find and the music venues are in heavy weather. Brand new director Jolanda Beyer had to lay off staff in her first months.

In January, Jolanda Beyer switched from theater de Balie in Amsterdam to pop venue Patronaat in Haarlem: “More dancing, swinging and sweating.” At least that was the intention, but the corona virus threw a spanner in the works.

‘Everything that the music venue stands for will disappear’

“Everything we stand for as a music venue is now gone,” says Beyer. “It now looks more and more like a theater, where I actually come from. I could never have imagined this when I made the switch.”

The pop stage’s profile has changed as a result of the corona crisis. People sit at tables in pairs. There is no cloakroom and everyone is served, instead of walking to the bar. Nobody is allowed to sing along, you cannot whistle on your fingers and the programming is completely different.

Jolanda Beyer started just before the corona crisis as director of pop stage Patronaat

No sofas, but wooden stools

Beyer wants to continue to distinguish herself as much as possible with her music venue, despite the measures. “We are no longer allowed to organize dance parties, but we still want to maintain that atmosphere.” That is why there are no sofas in Patronaat, but wooden stools. The lighting must also ensure that the audience gets a dance feeling, although everyone is sitting still throughout the show and dancing is absolutely not there.

In Patronaat they are happy to be able to open again. “But you make money with shows where it is full. This can not be done at any show,” concludes Beyer. She explains that music venues are not doing well because the resilience is low. “The subsidy mainly goes to the building. We normally earn the money from the public, that is no longer possible.”

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“This was not the plan when I started here”

Beyer was only a director for a few months when the corona crisis erupted. “For many people, suddenly there was just no work,” she says. The decision to fire people was not an easy one. “Normally we have 80 employees and we are left with 43, which is really bizarre. It was definitely not the plan when I started here.”

“I don’t even care about the money,” says Beyer. The loss in the form of layoffs is much worse. “It is not a job, but it is one way of life to work at a music venue. Dismissal therefore deprives a social life, which is super intense. “

Music venues versus theaters

So it is not going well with finances. “The music venues are hit harder than other organizations in the culture sector,” says Berend Schans, chairman of the Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festivals.

In theaters, for example, producers and artists also receive money from a special fund from the Ministry. “But artists don’t get anything in music venues,” says Schans.

Not a breakthrough for Jeanne

The story of Jeanne Rouwendaal proves that artists are struggling. Her band WIES was about to break through, but corona changed everything. For much of their income, the band members depend on music venues such as Patronaat. Jeanne thinks that they receive less subsidy. “I hope the music venues are important enough for the Netherlands.”


After a well-received performance at Noorderslag, it seemed that WIES, Jeanne Rouwendaal’s band, was going well. 2020 would be the year of their breakthrough. But then corona broke out and now everything is stopped. “Every musician has that right now.”

‘Keeps young people off the street’

Jolanda Beyer also sees a difference in how theaters and music venues are perceived. A theater often has a social and journalistic function, which makes it easy to link up with the objectives of all kinds of funds. It is often said that pop music keeps young people off the street. It has therefore not really been seen as culture for a long time. “

However, according to the ministry, much support is provided for pop venues, which, like theaters, are part of the cultural sector. Precisely to emphasize the importance. 29 million has been released for the music venues and the ministry remains in talks with the industry about how they can be helped. Self-employed workers in the cultural sector also receive income from many other support schemes.

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Against all knowledge

Despite the problems, Beyer remains optimistic. “Perhaps against our better judgment, but there is no point in being down, then you better close immediately. There will come a time when there is a vaccine, we keep hoping for that, otherwise we will not be able to run normally . “

Temporarily it may seem more like a theater than a pop stage, but in Haarlem people are still thinking about pop programming in good spirits. Only then without people dancing, moshpits, beers at the bar, and with 876 fewer people in the room.


Watch the TV report on this subject here.



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