Dutch no-show rates soar since reopening


April 14, 2022

Dutch trade body VNPF says the country’s music scene is recovering well since Covid measures were lifted last month – but no-shows at gigs remain a problem.

The government removed all remaining restrictions – most notably pre-admission testing for indoor events – on 23 March following tireless lobbying from the Netherlands’ live sector.

And despite ticket sales for cultural institutions such as museums and theatres struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels, the appetite for live music events has proved more resilient.

“It is going quite well at the music venues,” VNPF director Berend Schans tells NRC. “All programmes that would normally run well before the pandemic are now running well.”

Schans points out that shows by emerging acts are proving a harder sell than established artists, while customer demand has shown to be age-dependent.

“A relatively unknown band that plays post-punk with ’80s references, where more people my age would go, has a harder time than a hip new band that my daughter goes to,” he says.


As has been reported in other territories, Schans adds that major issues have emerged around audience no-shows by ticket-buyers at concerts. The average 10% pre-Covid no-show rate has ballooned to up to 40% since touring resumed, he says, leading to knock-on effects for venues.

“The pop venues have to earn their money with the average €12 that people spend during a concert,” he says. “And they also need that money to buy new programmes.”

Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ taskforce for the cultural and creative sector has written to the government to call for “bridging measures” following the expiration of emergency aid, reiterating that visitor numbers were still below 2019 levels for large parts of the industry.

Jeroen Bartelse, director of TivoliVredenburg, tells the publication that theatres and classical music have averaged 60% of normal numbers since reopening, while Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw reports 65% occupancy, down from 85% in the same period in 2019.

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