Greece is a country famous for its antiquities and history. And modern culture is by no means a priority for our government.
It is fair to say that they have, at best, a vague idea about the important issues in our field. To add to this, over the last few decades, the – many – Greek ministers of culture have been people unrelated to culture.
So, it is hard for these people to now, all of sudden, realise that something that they have been ignoring for so long is actually worth supporting.
In our case, EJEKT Festival has been a leading music festival in Greece and the eastern European region for 16 years. Every year we bring thousands of tourists to Greece; in 2020, our main headliner was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and we were expecting around 10,000 visitors from other countries across the two days.
It’s clear, then, that we are generating a lot of income for the country and for Athens, and that we provide work for many people. But in our 16 years, we have never had any sort of support from any government or municipal office.
Our company’s turnover will go from a few million euros in 2019 to zero in 2020
Even though the government first banned all shows on 10 March, only on 7 May did they announce that no shows are to happen until 15 July. After that date, shows can happen only in open-air venues but with 40% attendance and with people standing 1.5 metres apart. In reality, it is clear that concerts and festivals cannot happen.
In light of the above, this year EJEKT Festival cannot take place. The same goes for all our other concerts. This means that our company’s turnover will go from a few million euros in 2019 to zero in 2020, and we have no idea what will happen in 2021.
But we have to pay our employees, our taxes, our rent and our other expenses. As far as we understand, many companies in our field cannot sustain this, and will go bust.
On 7 May, after two months of lockdown, the Ministry of Culture finally informed us of their plans for the summer. Clearly, we – the concert and festival producers – are not included. The only positive thing we heard was that they are planning to create a voucher scheme for cancelled events, but they gave no details about it, so we have to wait for that, too.
So, for now, we will keep asking for financial support to pay our employees, tax breaks for the live entertainment sector, and more wide-ranging support for the numerous people who work in our field. They deserve it.
Giannis Paltoglou is the owner of Detox Events and Ejekt Festival.