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feature

Leading the peloton

In the three years since his last Arthur Award, Herman Schueremans' world has been turned on its head. Yet he has emerged stronger, wiser and more resilient than ever

By IQ on 02 Jun 2017

Herman Schueremans

Having stepped back from his role as a member of parliament in 2013, Herman Schueremans was looking forward to concentrating full-time on the growth of Live Nation Belgium, without the hindrance of other distractions.

But in the intervening four years, the affable Leuven-born promoter has had no end of obstacles to overcome. From terror attacks in Brussels and elsewhere forever changing the look of live events in his home country, to a traumatic cycling accident – which ironically saved his life. But more on that presently…

In January this year, Herman was presented with a sector lifetime achievement award at the Music Industry Awards in Brussels by the Flemish minister for culture, Sven Gatz. It was the second time he has received such an accolade, following his lifetime achievement gong at the European Festival Awards in 2013. And then, of course, the surprise presentation of the Bottle Award at this year’s Arthurs, and for which he received a very well-deserved standing ovation from his ILMC peers.

Over the past 18 months, Herman’s homeland has endured a series of terrorist attacks and has unfairly been branded a haven for extremists – a reputation that he believes has done little to persuade touring acts to visit the country. But out of adversity comes strength, and with his team at Live Nation Belgium, Herman has seen the market bounce back, and then some, in 2017.

Out of adversity comes strength, and with his team at Live Nation Belgium Herman has seen the market bounce back, and then some, in 2017

Indeed, rather than write 2016 off as an annus horribilis, Herman is quick to list his highlights from what was a difficult 12 months. “We managed to bring the festivals to a good end despite the terror attacks and the post-terror trauma that was felt by the audience,” he tells IQ. With many visitors from other countries deciding not to attend Herman’s flagship Rock Werchter festival because of the threat of terror, even the weather decided to test the event organisers, but Herman took things in his stride.

“In the run-up to the festival it just kept on raining and raining and after we saw what happened at Rock am Ring and Southside festivals where they lost days, we were determined that it wasn’t going to happen to us,” he says. “It was the start of the holiday season for the construction industry so we figured out that there would be sand available. So we bought five-and-a-half ships full of white sand and sailed it up the canals to Werchter.”

The sand covered the whole of the Rock Werchter site, ensuring that the audience would not get wet feet. “But it was also like being at a beach party, so people loved it,” says Herman.

 


Read the rest of this feature in issue 71 of IQ Magazine

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