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Peter Smidt steps down as ESNS creative director

Smidt is leaving the event he founded in 1986, and which has grown to become one of Europe's most important music platforms, in the hands of his "fantastic team"

By Jon Chapple on 11 Jan 2019

Peter Smidt, Eurosonic Noorderslag

Peter Smidt

After 33 years, Peter Smidt has stepped down as creative director of Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) for health reasons.

Smidt, who will receive the lifetime achievement award at next week’s European Festival Awards 2018, originally founded the event that became ESNS in 1986. Initially through Stichting Pop Groningen, and later as a programmer of the Groningen venue de Oosterpoort (the home of ESNS), Smidt organised a battle of the bands between Dutch and Belgian acts, dubbed Holland-Belgium.

Holland-Belgium was later named Noorderslag, then Eurosonic Noorderslag, and has over the past four decades grown into one of Europe’s most important music industry events.

Smidt is also the founder of the European Talent Exchange Programme (Etep), an international partnership between ESNS and European festivals, radio stations and export offices, while ESNS is also home to the European Festival Awards and the new Music Moves Europe Talent Awards (formerly the European Border Breakers Awards, or EBBA).

Robert Meijerink succeeds Smidt as ESNS’s head of programme, while Ruud Berends remains head of the conference and Joey Ruchtie responsible for the conference’s Dutch acts. Smidt will stay on in an advisory capacity.

“Without Peter’s enthusiasm, vision and determination, we would never have been where we are now”

Thanking Smidt on behalf of ESNS, Dago Houben, managing director, and Pierre Ballings, chairman of the supervisory board, say in a joint statement: “Peter was unmistakably of the greatest importance for the development of the event. Without his enthusiasm, vision and determination, we would never have been where we are now.

“We are very, very grateful for everything he has done and we are very happy that he will continue to advise us in the coming years.

“This allows us to look forward with confidence, and we believe that his ideas, his vision, experience and network will also be sufficiently secured in the future. ”

“Looking back on great years with beautiful results, I am unfortunately forced to say goodbye to my beloved work for ESNS because of the deterioration of my health,” comments Smidt. “I remain available as an advisor while a fantastic team of capable colleagues is ready to take over my duties.

“I leave ESNS in their hands with confidence.”


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