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Social responsibility, artistic freedom and strong female representation remain top priorities for Roskilde, as the non-profit festival embarks on its 50th year
By Anna Grace on 10 Jul 2019
Denmark’s Roskilde festival had its 49th outing this weekend, selling out all tickets and featuring headline performances from Bob Dylan and Cardi B. However, despite this commercial success, it appears that social activism remains at Roskilde’s core.
“It was a really fantastic year,” Roskilde chief executive Signe Lopdrup tells IQ. Aside from less than favourable weather, “there were no big issues at all.”
Organised by the Roskilde Festival Charity Society and working with 30,000 volunteers each year, the Danish festival has always had a humanitarian and social aim.
This focus was apparent this year through the announced partnership with Freemuse, an organisation defending freedom of artistic expression. The festival pledged 1.5DKK (£180,770) to Freemuse over three years to “help make the world safer for artistic expression”.
On stage, there was no shortage of artistic expression at Roskilde, which featured a “really strong” arts and activism programme, alongside a full music schedule.
“The programming came together very well this year,” says Lopdrup. “We always aim to give a voice to the youth in society and we managed to do that really successfully this year.”
The music programme also placed a special focus on young talent, despite a bill of headline acts such as the Cure, Robyn and Travis Scott, as well as Bob Dylan and Cardi B.
“One of our goals is to show fans something they haven’t seen before”
Presenting plenty of new acts is something Roskilde has worked on over the years, says Lopdrup, facilitated by a large, diverse line-up and “curious festivalgoers”.
“One of our goals is to show fans something they haven’t seen before,” explains the Roskilde chief.
Major breakthroughs for this year included the presence of “a lot of strong female artists”.
Rather than using quotas to ensure an equal representation of women, Roskilde focuses on “presenting strong and progressive female artists”, giving them slots that allow them to “make their mark and inspire others”.
Christine and the Queens, Rosalía, Jorja Smith and Janelle Monáe were among high-profile female acts on the bill at this year’s Roskilde.
Looking ahead to the festival’s 50th anniversary next year, Lopdrup prioritises a future-facing attitude over a celebration of the past.
“We are a youth-focused festival – the average age of attendee is 24 – and our goal is to engage with the younger generation and with the future. As a festival, we have a special responsibility to tackle important social and global issues and to continue looking ahead.”
Roskilde Festival 2020 will take place from 27 June to 4 July.
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