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Hellfest begs gov to make decision on festival season

In an open letter, the French metal festival has pleaded with the minister of culture to “put an end to this unbearable waiting situation”

By IQ on 20 Jan 2021

Hellfest Open Air 2021 has been cancelled, following the news

Hellfest Open Air, 2019

image © David Gallard/Hellfest Open Air

French metal festival Hellfest Open Air has penned an open letter to France’s minister of culture warning of the “economic catastrophe” that’ll happen if this year’s festival season cannot go ahead.

The 60,000-capacity event, which is scheduled to take place across three days in June, in Clisson, Pays de la Loire, has begged minister Roselyn Bachelot to act quickly to “put an end to this unbearable waiting situation” that festival organisers are experiencing.

“We have been very attentive to your latest media interventions during the past few days, in which you’ve said: ‘We will go to festivals this summer’, ‘we have time’ and ‘let’s cross our fingers’. Madame minister: excuse our tone but on our side, we do not cross the fingers, we squeeze the buttocks!” the letter reads.

“With less hospital pressure, outdoor organisation combined with the summer period when it is known that this virus is less virulent, and an additional preventive test, is it conceivable to consider holding our mega-events? Or, should we consider now that if collective immunity is not achieved, it will be impossible to set up events hosting tens of thousands?” the Hellfest team asks.

The festival goes on to say that 99.75% of fans who bought tickets to the 2020 edition, which was inevitably postponed, have held onto their tickets in the hope that the 2021 event will go ahead.

Hellfest says that in the run up to this year’s event – the 15th-anniversary edition which is due to be headlined by Deftones, Faith No More and System of a Down – it is spending more than €250,000 per month on salaries, fixed expenses and other loan repayments.

“Madame minister: excuse our tone but on our side, we do not cross the fingers, we squeeze the buttocks”

“Without knowing if the festival will take place, what organisation would agree to spend this much without a result guaranteed, without having the assurance that all this money is not thrown out the window?” the letter reads.

In the letter, the festival also highlights that the “economic catastrophe” that would ensue if the festival season cannot go ahead, would not only impact the festival itself but also the region in which the festival takes place.

“From an economic point of view, our festivals are invaluable drivers of activities for territories that welcome them. The hotels, restaurants, bars, and other shops that are around us are all sectors that are suffering enormously from this crisis and that expect a lot from the event we hold. To speak only of the territory of the Nantes Vineyard, the fallout is estimated at more than 25 million euros,” the letter states.

The letter concludes with a plea to the minister to “put everything into allowing the resumption of life,” once again emphasising that if the summer season is a “disaster” again, “everything that will be lost, will be lost”.

During an interview regarding the recently announced test shows in France, Bachelot said she wants “to send a message of hope: we must be able to achieve a summer of festivals”.

Currently, museums, cinemas, theatres and music venues in France remain closed after prime minister Jean Castex announced at the beginning of January that there would be “no relaxation” of the restrictions yet.


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