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European live industry stepping up for Ukraine

Festivals including ArtMania (Romania), Pohoda (Slovakia) and Nova Rock (Austria) discuss how they are supporting victims of the war

By Lisa Henderson on 08 Mar 2022

Nova Rock, Austria

Nova Rock, Austria


Live music markets around the world are pitching in to support the citizens of Ukraine, as the Russian military continues its full-scale invasion of the country.

From helping with logistics at borders to finding employment for displaced professionals, the global sector is utilising its unique resources to help those fleeing the conflict.

Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, is spearheading the launch of a pan-European job site that aims to help uprooted Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.

“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality by helping them to do what they’re trained to do,” she tells IQ.

“I would call it an ideological solution for what Putin is trying to do. He’s trying to destroy a way of life and whatever these people have built and invested in.

“We want to help them resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality”

“The aim is that these people don’t end up washing dishes in Berlin, for example, but that they can continue the work they’ve studied and prepared for – and all that added value will not get lost,” she says.

The platform, due to launch within the next week, is called ARTery for that very reason. “An artery keeps life going,” she explains. “It keeps the flow of blood and life – and so to say the activity of art – going.”

Michal Kascak from Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest festival, is also involved in the project and the pair are attempting to enlist as many festivals, companies and venues within the industry as possible.

Vulcu hopes that, even after the war, the platform will be used by creatives around the world fleeing from conflict areas or dictatorial regimes – including Russians.

Alongside the launch of ARTery, ARTMania and Pohoda are deploying production staff to help organise logistics at their respective borders.

“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play”

In addition, Pohoda also recently organised a solidarity concert for the people of Ukraine, which became a high-profile event in Slovakia.

“Slovakia’s president Zuzana Čaputová came to the event and made a great speech onstage, which was a surprise for everyone,” Kascak tells IQ.

“I was also positively surprised that public TV called us the evening before and asked to join the concert. Slovenska One, the major channel in Slovakia, broadcast the concert live on TV for three hours nonstop!”

The concert took place last Sunday (27 February) in Bratislava’s Main Square and featured more than 20 acts from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

“I think that we as concert promoters, venues, clubs, festivals should offer slots in our events to Ukrainians who can play and bring a message from their country to ours,” says Kascak. “I think it can be a strong gesture and can also help to unite people and to spread the message about what’s going on in Ukraine.”

But it’s not just neighbouring countries that are pitching in to support citizens in Ukraine. In Austria, promoter Barracuda Music has transformed part of Nova Rock‘s festival site into a refugee centre.

Nova Rock Hall, which is typically used as a backstage and hospitality area during the festival, is now equipped to accommodate up to 480 refugees.

“The hall is set up in multiple sections, which are suited for 50 people each and include beds and seating,” Barracuda Music CEO Ewald Tatar explains to IQ. “Electricity, water, heating, light and hygiene and sanitation facilities (toilets, garbage disposal etc.) are all installed to accommodate the refugees.”

“It is important that the international live music industry shows solidarity with Ukraine,” adds Tatar.

Alongside the refugee centre, Nova Rock is also gearing up for a fundraising concert, titled ‘We Stand with Ukraine’.

The charity gig, announced today, is scheduled for 19 March at Ernst Happel-Stadion, Vienna, and donations will benefit people affected by the Ukraine war.

Nova Rock’s event is one of countless fundraisers around the world that have been organised to aid victims of the war.

Romanian promoter ALDA is spearheading two benefit events – We Are One at Bucharest stadium and Dance for Ukraine in Poland. Elsewhere, Brussels-based festivals, nightclubs and events have announced an open-air festival at Atomium.

Poland’s Follow the Step is gearing up to announce “the biggest show in Poland together with television and local artists”. While, across the pond, New York’s City Winery is hosting a benefit featuring Ukrainian-born Eugene Hütz & Gogol Bordello, as well as the likes of Patti Smith.

See a non-exhaustive list of benefit concerts, compiled by Music Export Ukraine, below.

 


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