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Poland’s Open’er festival cancelled again

Open’er, Poland’s largest annual music festival, has been cancelled for the second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the organisers wrote: “This is a difficult moment for us. Another one in the midst of the pandemic. Over the last few months we have fought and done so much to make this year’s edition of the Open’er Festival possible. Although we are convinced that the return of the festival world is very close, we are losing this race against time.

“The process of recovering from the pandemic is progressing, vaccinations are ongoing, but unfortunately for obvious reasons, both local and international, the lack of a plan for the coming months and the restrictions in force – the beginning of July in Poland is not yet the time when we will be able to organize Open’er Festival in the scale and form you expect.”

Kendrick Lamar, Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky would have headlined this year’s event at Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport in Gdynia between 30 June and 3 July.

“Although we are convinced that the return of the festival world is very close, we are losing this race against time”

Twenty One Pilots, however, have already been announced for next year’s 20th-anniversary edition.

Michael Kiwanuka, Destroyer, Badbadnotgood and Seasick Steve have also been confirmed for Open’er 2022, set to take place between 29 June and 2 July.

In the meantime, Open’er is planning a new event that will take place in Gdynia and span several weeks. The organisers say they will reveal more details in the coming weeks.

The cancellation of Open’er follows that of multi-venue festival World Wide Warsaw and electronic festival Undercity, both of which are promoted by Follow the Step.

At the time of writing, Fest Festival, Pol ‘and’ Rock and Wisloujscie are still set to go ahead.

 


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Flemish gov optimistic about Pukkelpop, Tomorrowland

The Flemish government says large events such as Pukkelpop and Tomorrowland should be able to go ahead in late summer, under certain conditions.

The reassurance for Belgian festival organisers comes after the government unveiled its summer ‘Freedom Plan’ yesterday (9 May), which ventures that all adults would have had the chance to be vaccinated by mid-August.

Flemish minister of health Frank Vandenbroucke says the implementation of the Green Pass – the European corona passport which shows vaccination status and test results – will be key to restarting large events.

Other conditions include on-site Covid-19 testing and limiting access to events to Europeans: “We will not invite the whole world. Within Europe, too, we have to be careful who we admit,” says Vandenbroucke.

The Flemish minister of health says the implementation of the Green Pass will be key to restarting large events

According to the Freedom Plan, large events can restart in July under certain conditions. Events can take place with 5,000 outdoors or 3,000 indoors provided attendees adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing.

In August, the maximum number of people allowed at outdoor events is increased to 10,000, and 4,500 indoors.

Pukkelpop (cap. 60,000) and Tomorrowland (70,000) are set to take place in late August and early September respectively and are the last major Belgian festivals still planning to go ahead after Rock Werchter and Graspop cancelled their 2021 events.

The cancellations came despite the Flemish government’s €60 million pot to help the region’s organisers kickstart preparations for this summer’s festival season.


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Two-day Glasto concert could welcome up to 50k

Glastonbury could welcome up to 50,000 fans this summer for a two-day concert at Worthy Farm.

Organiser Emily Eavis revealed in March that the festival had applied for a license to stage live music and sell alcohol between 2 pm and 11 pm at a ‘single event’ across a Friday and Saturday in September.

New details submitted to Mendip District Council reveal the potential concert would utilise only the main Pyramid Stage field at Worthy Farm and the event would have a maximum capacity of 49,999 people, with four separate car parks close to the main concert arena, according to Somerset Live.

The proposed event would be substantially smaller than a typical Glastonbury Festival, which welcomes more than 200,000 people to Pilton, and would also not feature any overnight camping facilities for attendees.

The potential concert would utilise only the main Pyramid Stage field at Worthy Farm

Mendip Council is set to meet this week (May 12) to discuss the application. IQ has asked Glastonbury to comment.

Since the coronavirus pandemic forced the festival’s cancellation for a second consecutive year, the organisers have revealed a number of alternative plans including a family-friendly campsite dubbed Worthy Pastures and a global ticketed live stream, Live at Worthy Farm.

Live at Worthy Farm will see Coldplay, Damon Albarn, Haim, Idles, Jorja Smith, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Wolf Alice, DJ Honey Dijon and more perform across the site’s landmarks on 22 May 2021.

The online event will be broadcast in full across four separate time zones, with staggered livestreams. Tickets are on sale now at worthyfarm.live for £20/€23/US$27.50/A$35.

 


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Mental health influences the success of the entire industry

I probably was the best example for the lack of awareness about mental health and its challenges that can be found anywhere in our industry. Yes, I always considered mental health a very important issue but of course for those with issues and not for me. That is probably why I never let it get closer to me. Well, until I had my own.

Those incidents happened five years ago and it took about three months of uncertainty until I was diagnosed with panic attacks and able to start working with the issue (and for the record: I was successful). Unsurprisingly, only then do you begin to appreciate the luxury of everything going normally until it is no longer the case – especially when it comes to one’s own health.

During this time, I found out how little it takes to fully question business as usual, or at least to mess it up almost completely. I sometimes felt unprofessional because I suddenly had to spend valuable working time on myself and my health but it simply takes its time and effort to address these things.

I always considered mental health a very important issue but of course for those with issues and not for me

And I found out that there were many situations in my private life but also in my professional life that added up to the point that “the pot finally boiled over”. To name just a few: The disappointments of a musician who never was able to take the decisive step. The boss who, in passing, gives the wisdom that in our job you cannot have a regular private life, let alone a relationship. The responsibility for all public communication around a tragic death within a festival without being trained in any way for such a case. The effects that a tense working atmosphere on a very personal level leaves behind in the context of a project running for decades.

All of this I would have approached or processed differently knowing what I know now. It is of course utopian to think that we can prepare for all possible cases, but I am convinced without any doubt that more knowledge, understanding and acceptance of circumstances make an enormous difference.

The responsibility for mental health issues does not necessarily lie within the person experiencing them

And that is the reason I embraced the idea of my friend, psychologist Prof. Dr Katja Ehrenberg, to create a book that helps raising awareness. It is called Stay Sound & Check Yourself and is intended to help ensure better understanding and appropriate attention to a topic that has a decisive influence on the success and creativity of the entire industry.

The two of us took a glimpse behind the scenes of the European live music, festival and event sector. Together with inspiring interview partners we turned the spotlights on the people behind the stages. We were happy to gather experts from eleven European countries to talk in often very personal individual interviews about their experiences with stress and mental health issues, the love for their job and what motivates them.

‘Stay Sound & Check Yourself’ is intended to help ensure better understanding and appropriate attention to [mental health]

We are proud to have achieved a great mix of genders, age groups and many different positions in the industry from a young social media expert to a veteran festival director. Our book is meant to be an in-depth feature of personal insights on stress and mental health in an industry that never sleeps, enriched by background information on the issue as well as suggestions for prevention and intervention – thanks to Katja’s massive expertise. And yes, there is a full chapter on the unprecedented stress-test that the ongoing pandemic is presenting to our industry.

So, after spending centuries of hard work placing the topic of mental health in the taboo corner it is also up to us now to work on this corner to disappear and deal with the reality. A reality that means that these things happen, that they can happen to everyone, that the responsibility for mental health issues does not necessarily lie within the person experiencing them, and that people simply are different.

For some reason, they have different dispositions and are differently resilient in different situations, just as they bring different skills, talents and a kind of magic that only they can perform. That is why Stay Sound & Check Yourself is dedicated to the innumerable people who you normally cannot see, but without whom the stars could never shine on stage.

 


Stay Sound & Check Yourself is out now. Order via your local bookshop or the links below:
Austria | Denmark | Finland | France | Germany | Hungary | Italy | Lithuania | The Netherlands | Poland | Slovakia | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | UK

All author profits from book sales will be reinvested to projects promoting visibility of the issue and building prevention and intervention tools.

Pohoda on the Ground 2021 unveils international bill

Pohoda, Slovakia’s biggest festival, has revealed details of the festival mini-series which is replacing the 2021 flagship event.

The series, dubbed ‘Pohoda on the Ground’, is set to take place between 7–11 July 2021 at Trenčín Airport in western Slovakia.

A maximum of 1,000 people will be permitted on each of the five days, including campers who will have their own designated space.

British bands Black Midi, Black Country, New Road, Pengshui and Dry Cleaning are touted to play, alongside Georgian band Murman Tsuladze and Congolese band Fulu Miziki – all of whom will perform on the main stage, curated by Pohoda.

The other two stages will be curated by ten clubs across Slovakia – Hangár, Bombura, Fuga, Diera do sveta, Stromoradie, 69, Collosseum, WAX, Záhrada, and Hájovňa – as a show of support for the country’s nightlife scene.

“With a capacity that is comparable to its beginnings and an emphasis on the club scene, Pohoda is returning to the ground,” says Michal Kaščák from the Pohoda team.

“We enjoy creating a different form of Pohoda and playing with space and programme”

“Clubs are essential for music, creating a year-round background for musicians and local communities. We enjoy creating a different form of Pohoda and playing with space and programme; especially we are very much looking forward to meeting visitors soon at the Trenčín Airport.”

Pohoda on the Ground’s non-musical programme will also be jointly curated along with cultural centres including Platform 1-12 Topoľčany, New Synagogue Žilina, Peripheral Centres Dúbravica, Kunsthalle Bratislava and Homeland Studies Museum Galanta.

The first 1,000 tickets for Pohoda on the Ground will be available for exclusive pre-sale via individual clubs on 12 May. The online pre-sale in the Pohoda shop will then start on 17 May.

Pohoda on the Ground will take place instead of the 24th edition of Pohoda (‘Peace’), which was cancelled for a second consecutive year after epidemiologists confirmed that a 30,000-cap event in Slovakia this summer “seemed unrealistic”.

The flagship festival will return between 7 –9 July, 2022.

 


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Yourope restructures, relocates to Germany

European festival association Yourope, which represents 108 festivals including Sziget and Primavera Sound, is restructuring and relocating.

Founded in 1988, the association has ties with London, Roskilde and St.Gallen but as of April 2021, the organisation is based in Bonn, Germany.

The move comes as Christof Huber, director of festivals at the Swiss Gadget ABC Entertainment Group who is also responsible for Yourope member festivals OpenAir St.Gallen and SummerDays, moves from general secretary to working chairman.

Huber will chair Yourope’s executive board and continue to ‘actively steer the association’s fortunes from the top’.

“The importance of our organisation became more obvious than ever last year, because especially in times when major events are impossible due to the pandemic, the need of the actors in this cultural field for exchange, international cooperation and speaking with a common voice grew once again,” says Huber.

“And despite these challenging times we succeeded in restructuring our organisation, expanding the network and securing even closer relationships with valued associates.”

“The importance of our organisation became more obvious than ever last year”

“I look forward to continuing to use my strength and experience for this purpose – together with our members and the new Yourope team.”

Assuming Huber’s former role as general secretary is Holger Jan Schmidt, who was previously anchorman and coordinator of Yourope’s sustainability-related working group Go Group (Green Operations Europe) and Take a Stand, the association’s social engagement initiative.

He will also run Yourope’s new office in Bonn, which will become part of the Bonn-based Compentence Network along with Schmidt’s Bonn Promotion Dept (BN*PD) and the IBIT (International Training Centre for Event Safety), which has been a key contributor to the steering committee of the Yes Group (Yourope Event Safety Group) for years.

“We have been a member of Yourope for almost twenty years – first with our festival, Rheinkultur, and for 10 years as an associated member with the Competence Network here in Bonn,” says Schmidt.

“I have identified with this institution from the beginning and travelled all over Europe with and for Yourope. To talk about festivals, to give festivals the opportunity to exchange, and above all to get to know and experience festivals and their philosophy.

“I couldn’t be prouder and happier to be trusted to take on this new role for Yourope and to continue to work on those issues that are close to my heart. And to do so from my hometown, which means a lot to me.”


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Topics and timings announced for first Recovery Sessions

Details have been announced of the first IQ Recovery Sessions webinar, which takes place next Thursday (13 May).

Announced last month, the Recovery Sessions is a new monthly series of half-day webinars that will keep the live music industry updated about the international roadmap to reopening. All Recovery Sessions events are free to access for IQ subscribers, taking place here on the IQ site.

The debut Recovery Sessions event kicks off at 2pm BST (3pm CEST) on 13 May and continues until 5pm, with three hour-long discussions tackling the issues around vaccine passports, the takeaways from this year’s major pilot events, and the road to recovery from the points of view of industry leaders.

The full schedule for 13 May is:

Details of speakers will be announced early next week.

After 13 May, Recovery Sessions events will take place on 17 June, 15 July and 12 August, with the series continuing for as long as there is a need for it.

For more information about the Recovery Sessions, or to get involved, email Chris Prosser at chris@iq-mag.net. To subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month, click here.

 


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LIVE survey: UK fans eager to return to shows ASAP

UK trade body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) has conducted a survey of 25,000 music fans, the results of which reveal an overwhelming desire for live music to return as quickly as possible.

More than half of fans are ready to attend music events right now if they could with a further 25% willing to come back with safety measures in place, according to the results of the survey.

The findings also show that the majority of fans (85%) are planning on attending either the same or higher numbers of live music events when they reopen than before the pandemic and more than half of fans (55%) have already bought tickets for live music events in the coming months.

Among those who are yet to buy their tickets, one-third are waiting for more gigs to come on sale rather than being deterred by the pandemic.

The top three reasons fans want to return to gigs are seeing an artist that they love (91%), the joy that live music brings (89%) and spending time with friends (69%). The majority of respondents (64%) stated that attending live music events boosts their mental health.

In further encouraging news, music fans are largely accepting of proposed Covid-prevention measures with 75% of respondents confirming they would be happy with the idea of Covid certification to attend an event.

“It’s great that the passion of live music fans has endured and after a long wait fans want to go to more shows than ever”

Hand sanitiser stations, temperature checking and one-way systems are the simple mitigations fans would like to see when events return, though 41% of respondents said they would be put off attending an event if they had to wear a face mask.

The survey is the most detailed research yet conducted on the attitudes of UK music fans towards the return of live events and how they want them to be run in a post-pandemic world.

“It’s great that the passion of live music fans has endured the pandemic, and after a long wait fans want to go to more shows than ever,” says Chris Carey, chief economist of LIVE. It is especially encouraging to see how quickly fans want to get back to live.”

Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, says: “After a devastating year for the live music industry it is fantastic to see the strength of feeling from fans across the UK who are desperate to get back to live music events. The industry has worked tirelessly to ensure that we can return as quickly and safely as possible.

“It is notable that fans are willing to live with short-term mitigation measures in order to get back to live music as quickly as possible, with three quarters saying that they would be happy with a Covid-certification system as part of those measures.”

 


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Norway tests would involve 15k people…staying at home

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is proposing a number of test events that would involve a total of 30,000 people – half of which would not get to attend the concerts.

The Institute is envisaging several indoor concerts – which will most likely take place in Oslo in June – with up to 5,000 unmasked participants.

Both those attending the concert and those who are not will be tested before and after the event in order to compare infection rates at home and in the venue.

“We want a definite answer as to whether infection-testing the audience before they are admitted to a concert makes it as safe to go to a concert as to be at home and watch TV,” says Atle Fretheim who heads the research group at the NIPH.

Various other tests have taken place around Europe, including in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.

“We want a definite answer as to whether it’s as safe to go to a concert as to be at home and watch TV”

Whether Norway’s test events can go ahead depends on the approval from the health authorities and the regional committee for medical research ethics.

According to Fretheim, the minister for culture’s working group – which includes Bergen Live and Øya Festival – and Norwegian Concert Organisers (Konsertarrangor) have backed the test series.

However, Konsertarrangor’s Tone Østerdal doubts the results will come back quickly enough to have an impact on Norway’s festival summer.

The Stavern Festival and OsloOslo have already been cancelled after the minister for culture announced preliminary guidelines which would restrict festivals to 2,000 attendees until June, 5,000 attendees until August and 10,000 thereafter.

The Danish government this week announced similar restrictions which will restrict events to 2,000 attendees until August, rather than June.

 


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Denmark’s festival season wiped out due to restrictions

Denmark’s festival season has been decimated for the second consecutive year after the government announced that a maximum of 2,000 participants will be permitted at festivals between 21 May and 1 August 2021.

The announcement came last night (3 May) and was followed this morning by a raft of festival cancellations including Roskilde (26 June to 3 July), Smukfest (4–8 August), Northside (3–5 June), Tinderbox (24–26 June), Beautiful Party (4–8 August), Jelling Festival (20–23 May), Copenhell (16–19 June) and Heartland (27–29 May).

Vig Festival (8–10 July), Thy Rock (25–26 June), Nibe Festival (30 June to 3 July), Ringsted Festival (5–7 August), Langelandsfestival (18–25 July), Radio ABC Beach Party (17 July) and Kløften Festival (24–26 June) have also been called off.

The government’s reopening agreement states that 2,000-capacity events are permitted, provided attendees are divided into sections with a maximum of 200 people in each.

“It is a day of mourning”

After 1 August, the capacity limit will be raised to 5,000 with sections of up to 500 attendees. Events with 10,000 attendees will not take place until it is ‘assessed as sound from a health point of view’.

The agreement comes after the government’s expert advisory group warned that festivals with more than 10,000 participants should not be carried out as usual, which cast serious doubt over the viability of Denmark’s 2021 festival season.

The organisers of Roskilde, which typically gathers 130,000 people each year, say its enforced cancellation is not surprising.

“We are devastated by the fact that we can’t get together at our festival and contribute to recreating the communities that the corona crisis has destroyed for so many,” says a statement on the festival’s website.

“The cancellation is very serious for the festival, for the charity society behind it and for our community. And it is serious for the artistic environments and the growth segments of culture.”

“We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already”

Esben Marcher, head of Danish live music association Dansk Live, dubbed the government’s plan an “over-cautious reopening that does not leave much hope for the festivals”. “It’s a day of mourning,” he added.

Smukfest spokesman, Søren Eskildsen, believes that government acted hastily: “We are extremely annoyed that the politicians are writing off the festivals already, as we believe that it is too early to make such decisive decisions on the basis of conjecture about what the situation will look like in three months’ time and what can and cannot be done at that time.”

The reopening agreement has effectively rendered Denmark’s DKK 500 million (€67.2m) safety net redundant for the organisers of festivals and major events.

Announced in March, the safety net was designed to cover organisers of recurring events with at least 350 participants, taking place between 1 May and 30 September 2021, in the event that the Covid-19 situation results in the cancellation, postponement or significant changes to an event.

 


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