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CEO and booker Michal Kaščák looks to the future after a challenging 2023 edition for Slovakia's largest festival
By James Hanley on 01 Sep 2023
Pohoda organiser Michal Kaščák has shared his optimism for the Slovakian festival’s future after navigating tricky waters this summer.
The most recent edition of the 30,000-cap event took place at Trenčín airport from 6-8 July, featuring acts such as Wet Leg, Central Cee, Jamie xx, Sampa the Great, Ben Howard, Caroline Polachek, Sleaford Mods and Suzanne Vega.
But Kaščák tells IQ that ticket sales fell short of previous levels, with the Slovak market being slower to recover from the pandemic than its western European counterparts, exacerbated by other external factors.
“This year was about surviving, to be honest,” he says. “We are in a very difficult situation after the pandemic and so our starting position for this year was very difficult. Slovakia is not in the same situation as western countries – people are not coming back to clubs, pubs and even festivals – so it is much harder to persuade people to come.
“We saw that this year – we were not sold out and the margins are becoming so thin that we need to be sold out to be in the black, so it was not easy.”
“From an artistic point of view, it was the best festival in our history”
Despite the commercial struggles, Kaščák says the proudly independent music and arts festival, which was launched in 1997, was a creative triumph that was received well by those in attendance.
“On the other side, it was a fantastic year because we had an excellent line-up,” he says. “We had excellent reviews, we had excellent weather and we had an excellent atmosphere. So from an artistic point of view, it was the best in our history and that was an important message for our audience and the whole society.
“The pandemic was managed super-badly and the economic situation is tough, with the war and energy prices, and the politicians are not bringing any vision. They are only speaking about problems, so a lot of people are a little bit scared what will happen in future so are thinking about where to spend their money much more carefully.
“We are not in an easy economic situation but it isn’t the first time [that has been the case] in our history, so we will get through it. We will do our best to keep our approach, to keep our attitude and continue like we started. In general, I’m optimistic. I’m sure that we will survive.”
“We are working really hard to be ready for for next year”
Next year’s Pohoda (peace) will take place from 11-13 July 2024, with three-day tickets priced at €129.
“I started booking two months ago and it looks promising, but it all depends on who confirms,” says Kaščák. “We are working really hard to be ready for for next year and to have it be the same quality or even better quality than in 2023 from all perspectives. Again, from artistic point of view, but also services: quality of sound, light, quality of food. We will also keep our approach of bringing important topics to the festival.”
Earlier this year, Kaščák spoke to IQ about his recent visits to war-torn Ukraine. Pohoda has pitched in to support the citizens of Ukraine with a charity concert and an employment initiative throughout the war.
Kaščák first visited the neighbouring country last December for a project organised by the Ukrainian Association of Music Events as part of the Music Saves UA initiative, realised in collaboration with the Night Ambassadors team from the city of Lviv.
He has helped Ukrainian crew, artists and musicians secure work at festivals and events around Europe, and has also played live shows in the country with his band, Bez Ladu A Skladu.
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