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Europe’s first K-pop fest sold 70,000+ tickets

Europe’s first K-pop festival reportedly sold more than 70,000 tickets in 84 countries.

Staged by K-Pop Europa in partnership with PK Events and Korean broadcaster SBS Television Network, the 44,000-capacity Kpop.Flex festival took place at the Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany, over the weekend (14–15 May).

Due to the huge demand for the event, the organisers have already gone on sale with a second edition, set for 17–18 June 2023 at the Frankfurt arena.

K-Pop Europa is also planning to expand its brand with other new dates and locations over the coming year via a partnership between the UK’s Live Company Group and Germany’s Explorado Group.

A statement from the agencies says: “South Korea is now the seventh largest music market in the world, and audiences for K-Pop are growing at an explosive rate. The high demand for KPop.Flex tickets and the rising star profile in Western media show that the K-Pop wave is not going to ebb away.”

Kpop.Flex featured live performances from acts including EXO member Kai, AB6IX, (G)I-DLE, NCT Dream, Enhypen, Mamamoo, Monsta X and IVE.

The event also featured a Korea Festival, a fan fest arranged by the Korean Tourism Organisation with food stalls and special presentations of Korean music and cultural assets.

While the in-person event is over, the organisers are gearing up for a ticketed global live stream of the event on 29 May.

For €14.95, ticket buyers can enjoy a 90-minute ‘digital experience’ and participate in fan-exclusive group chats.

“South Korea is now the seventh largest music market in the world, and audiences for K-Pop are growing at an explosive rate”

K-Pop Europa isn’t the only promoter bringing K-pop to Europe. It was recently announced that TEG MJR is to promote the UK’s first-ever K-pop festival, taking place in London this summer.

HallyuPopFest, previously held in Singapore in 2018 and 2019, is scheduled for 9 and 10 July at OVO Arena Wembley (cap. 12,500).

According to a new report, more than 2.8 million fans are forecast to attend K-pop events outside of Korea in 2022.

South Korea-based financial investment company Hyundai Motor Securities (HMS) projects that acts represented by management firm HYBE, such as BTS, Tomorrow X Together and Enhypen, will draw 1.27m concertgoers outside their homeland on their own.

South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, is also gearing up for growing demand for the genre, with the development of two new arenas dedicated to K-pop.

K-pop, media giant CJ ENM and AEG have begun construction on an arena in the capital’s Goyang City, slated to open in 2024.

The venue, dubbed CJ LiveCity Arena, is reportedly designed to accommodate 20,000 indoor attendees, with the capacity to extend to another 40,000 outdoors.

Meanwhile, South Korean IT giant Kakao and the Seoul metropolitan government will start building a K-pop arena in Seoul’s northern Dobong district, this June.

Expected to be complete in October 2025, Seoul Arena will reportedly include a concert venue boasting state-of-the-art sound equipment, with a seating capacity of around 19,000 and a maximum capacity of 28,000 for standing events.

 


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Over 100 UK festivals commit to tackling sexual violence

Over 100 UK festivals have backed the Association of Independent Festivals’ (AIF) Safer Spaces at Festivals campaign, which is aimed at tackling sexual violence at festivals.

Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters, Reading & Leeds, Bluedot, Parklife and Shambala are among the 105 signatories.

Originally launched in May 2017, the relaunched initiative sees festivals commit to an updated charter of best practice, developed with input and guidance from experts at Rape Crisis England and Wales, Good Night Out, Safe Gigs For Women, Girls Against and UN Women.

The Charter states that all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated. This is supplemented by a commitment to clear, robust reporting and disclosure procedures, including how to report incidents onsite and post-event.

Festival policies will include relevant health guidance and connections to local services, and the campaign will feature advice on how to be an active bystander including the ‘5 D’s’ of Bystander Intervention devised by Right To Be (Direct, Delegate, Distract, Document and Delay).

“Festivals are microcosms of society and sexual violence is a problem that persists in our society”

In addition, the festivals will actively promote the principle of consent regarding sexual activity onsite at events, defining consent as “someone engaging in sexual activity if they agree by choice, and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice” and reiterating that consent can be revoked at any time.

Participating festivals are sharing key messages on social media across a 24-hour period from 9 am today (16 May) and will also display key messages onsite this summer at events.

There will also be a resource hub linking to all partner organisations, up to date advice, guidance and best practice examples of what festivals are doing on the ground.

AIF membership & operations coordinator Phoebe Rodwell says: “The original Safer Spaces campaign has had a positive impact across festivals for music fans and festival staff alike. Festivals are microcosms of society and sexual violence is a problem that persists in our society. Our understanding and approaches to tackling the issue are evolving all the time. That’s why it’s important that we renew the Safer Spaces campaign in 2022 with up-to-date messaging, resources and practices, to prevent sexual violence and promote a survivor-led approach, helping festival organisers to fulfil their duty of care at events.”

Media and communications officer at Rape Crisis England and Wales Kelly Bennaton adds: “We’re encouraged to see the commitment and consideration from festival organisers in making their events safe places for women and girls. The AIF Safer Spaces Charter acknowledges the importance of dedicated training, awareness raising, and the provision of specialist support services for survivors.

“Festival goers deserve to know that if they report sexual assault they will be listened to and believed, and that those working on site are equipped to handle all reports with knowledge and empathy. They also deserve to know that festivals are taking a proactive approach in preventing sexual assault, and that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. We’re pleased to have worked with AIF on developing this charter, and hope that the wider festival industry will follow its lead.”

 


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IFF 2022 launches with new central hub, agency partners

The eighth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF), ILMC’s invitation-only event for festivals and bookers, is now live.

More than 800 delegates are expected to attend this year’s gathering of the international music festival business, with many of the world’s leading booking agencies signed up as partners.

Wasserman Music, WME, CAA, UTA, ICM Partners/Primary Talent, ATC Live, X-Ray Touring, One Finiix Live and Earth Agency are among the first to back the 2022 edition and many of whom will present showcases featuring the hottest new talent.

Alongside the showcases, IFF 2022 will offer the usual plethora of networking, showcases, panels, and parties – all taking place between 27 and 29 September in London.

In addition, IFF has announced a new central hub, the Holiday Inn in Camden, which will be transformed into IFF Central for three days.

IFF has announced a new central hub, the Holiday Inn in Camden, which will be transformed into IFF Central

IFF Central will be exclusive to delegates and will host all conference sessions, complimentary delegate lunches, a late-night bar that’s open until the early hours, and ample space for private meetings.

The hotel also features 100 rooms for delegates in a range of categories, which can be booked at the same time as registering your pass. Room rates are discounted for IFF delegates but there’s a limited number available. Click here for more details.

Since launching in 2015, IFF has gained a reputation for showcasing the most talented emerging artists at early stages of their careers, including Idles, Slaves, Loyle Carner, Public Service Broadcasting, Lewis Capaldi and Shame.

Last year, IFF enjoyed a successful return to a physical event, with a programme that featured a double keynote interview with Melvin Benn and Folkert Koopmans.

More details of IFF 2022, including the provisional schedule, will be announced in due course. If you have an idea for a panel topic, speaker or presentation, please email Ruud Berends.

A limited number of super discounted earlybird passes are now available for just £345 (saving £150 on the full rate). Each pass includes access to all sessions and showcases, lunches, dinners, and some drinks. Click here to register.

 


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Pollen Presents unveils four-day Croatia takeover

Music, travel and experiences start-up Pollen is launching four-day island takeover the Unruly Culture Splash Weekender in Croatia later this year.

Headlined by dancehall star Popcaan, the festival is being staged in collaboration with Team Unruly and will fuse Jamaican, African and UK music.

The four-day “feast of Caribbean culture” is billed as “the first travel getaway of its kind in Europe” and is set for Zrće beach, Pag Island from 1-5 September. Attractions include all day and night parties, such as themed pool parties, brunches and boat parties, spa and make up treatments and daily exercise classes, alongside live performances from Popcaan and special guests.

Pollen Presents has previously organised a number of artist-curated weekenders

Founded in 2014 by brothers Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, London-headquartered Pollen runs two offerings: Pollen Presents, which curates experiences for customers across travel, music, and more; and Pollen+ which partners with promoters and music festivals to offer customers who book through its platforms perks at events.

Pollen Presents has previously organised a number of artist-curated weekenders with artists including Justin Bieber in Las Vegas, Diplo in Cabo, Kurupt FM in Amsterdam, J Balvin in Vegas and Bring Me The Horizon in Malta.

 


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Danish festivals report strong resurgence

Ticket sales for many festivals in Denmark this summer are on a par with pre-Covid levels, according to promoters.

Events including Roskilde Festival, Smukfest and Copenhell are already sold out, with a number of others reporting near sell-outs.

Dansk Live adds that ticket sales are also booming at Northside and Tinderbox, with both on course to break their previous records.

“In terms of sales, both festivals are going great,” says Pernille Høll, head of marketing at Down the Drain, which runs the two festivals. “Northside gets its second or best year in history. Tinderbox gets its best.”

“It is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music”

Elsewhere, Jelling Music Festival is also on track for an impressive comeback.

“We can clearly see that people are really looking forward to getting on the grass again,” says co-founder and manager Lars Charlie Mortensen. “We see this clearly in ticket sales. People buy all kinds of tickets at the moment – both day tickets and for the whole festival, and we expect to get a full house.”

Dansk Live’s head of secretariat Esben Marcher is delighted with how the market is rebounding.

“We can only interpret the high sales figures as meaning that the audience still loves live music,” he says. “After some hard years for all live organisers, it is extremely nice to see that the audience is once again looking for the community around live music.”

“It is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved”

While Nibe Festival manager Peter Møller Madsen reports similarly strong sales, he observes that teenagers have been slower to buy tickets than in the pre-pandemic era – a trend he attributes to the two-year break.

“They have not inherited the tradition,” he says. “However, we believe that they will probably come, so we are very confident.”

Marcher adds: “Although overall ticket sales at the Danish festivals are doing well, it is unfortunately no surprise that the younger target groups are not yet fully involved. We have been without the great festival experiences for two years, and thus there are two new vintages who have not yet been to a festival, and thus may not be so eager to get tickets. However, that trend will hopefully improve over time.”

 


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Astroworld injury claims exceed 4,900

Almost 5,000 people have claimed they were injured in last November’s Astroworld tragedy, according to a new court filing.

Ten concertgoers, aged between nine and 27, were killed after a crowd surge during co-founder Travis Scott’s headline set at the 50,000-cap festival in Houston, Texas, promoted by Live Nation and its Scoremore subsidiary. All of those who died suffered from compression asphyxia.

Now, Rolling Stone reports that attorneys Jason Itkin, Richard Mithoff and Sean Roberts, who are acting as “plaintiffs’ liaison counsel”, have tied 732 claims to injuries that required extensive medical treatment, 1,649 to less extensive treatment, and 2,540 for injuries where the severity is still under review.

Earlier this year, the go-ahead was given for hundreds of Astroworld lawsuits to be formally consolidated into a single case . Lawsuits were filed against Scott and promoters Live Nation and Scoremore, along with other parties, in each of the 24 district courts in Harris County. Nearly every claim alleges negligence such as “failures of safety and security rules, crowd control and emergency response measures, and failures to provide adequate security, supervision, training and care”.

Scott performed for the first time in public since Astroworld at the weekend

The Texas Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation ruled that 387 suits, representing almost 2,800 alleged victims, could move forward as one case.

The accused parties have denied all allegations against them relating to the 5 November 2021 disaster.

Last month, the Texas Task Force on Concert Safety (TFCS) made a series of recommendations on how to improve concert safety and help avoid a repeat of the tragedy, including the creation of a centralised Event Production Guide – outlining and encouraging best-practice for event design and crowd control.

“While some level of risk is inherent in any mass gathering, it is the opinion of the TFCS that proper planning will allow Texans to enjoy safe performances, concerts, and other culturally significant events,” it said.

Scott took to the stage at a Miami nightclub at the weekend to give his first public live performance since Astroworld.

 


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New Bosses name one thing industry must change

Alumni from IQ Magazine‘s most recent class of New Bosses have identified areas of improvement for the international live music business.

A handful of the next-gen leaders shared their thoughts during Meet the New Bosses: The Class of 2021, at last month’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Theo Quiblier, head of concerts at Two Gentlemen in Switzerland, believes the one thing the industry needs to get better at is normalising failure.

“We are in a fantastic industry where everyone is signing the new top artist or selling out venues or sealing huge deals with festivals but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well’ – as simple as that.

“I feel that we’re all a bit afraid of saying, ‘I went on sale with my favourite band and it didn’t go well'”

“As a promoter, I could say, ‘Oh, I work with this top band,’ and people think, ‘That’s amazing, he must be rich,’ and, in reality, it’s your biggest loss of the year. We need little reality checks, and to say ‘I’m doing my best but I’m not the best’. Sharing insecurities is great because failure happens to everybody.”

Flo Noseda-Littler, agency assistant at Wasserman Music (formerly Paradigm UK), called for better pay for junior staff so more people can viably start their careers in the industry.

“Fair salaries for junior staff and internships so that it enables people in those positions to live in the cities in which they work,” comments Noseda-Littler. “By providing a free internship or a low paid job, you’re cutting off so many people who don’t have the ability to still live with their parents or be subsidised by their parents. And then you’re just reducing the number of people you can recruit and missing out on potentially really ambitious and amazing people.”

Anna Parry, partnerships manager at the O2 in London, echoed Noseda-Littler’s thoughts, adding that companies also need to improve their recruitment strategies in order to reach a more diverse pool of talent.

“This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head”

“Companies really need to put more effort into understanding why people aren’t applying for these jobs, and then they need to create a lower barrier of entry for those types of people,” says Parry. “It’s not just saying, ‘Oh okay, well we posted the job on a different forum than we usually would’. It’s going to take a lot more of that to actually make a difference. We need to focus on that because it’s important our industry is representative of the artists we represent.”

Age Versluis (promoter at Friendly Fire in the Netherlands) on the other hand, is petitioning for a four-day workweek: “This is a job that costs you a lot of time at your desk and a lot of time in your head. Since Covid, we’re seeing a lot of people burning out and having trouble getting to that fourth or fifth gear.

“We forget that moving shows for two years to the same months is quite stressful. I think we could use some extra ‘me’ time.”

Tessie Lammle, agent at UTA in the US, echoed her peers’ points, adding: “I was going to say diversity or work-life balance but Theo’s point is huge. I think the younger generation is getting much better at [sharing insecurities].”

Each of the panellists appeared as part of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses 2021, an annual list celebrating the brightest talent aged 30 and under in the international live music business. See the full list of the distinguished dozen here.

 


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Coca-Cola reveals Tomorrowland partnership

Coca-Cola has confirmed the first of a series of festival partnerships by announcing a link-up with Tomorrowland.

The marquee Belgium edition of Tomorrowland in Boom, Antwerp, is expanding to three weekends rather than its usual two from 15-31 July. Tickets sold out just 30 minutes after going on sale.

Alan Walker, Alesso, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Eric Prydz presents HOLO, Fisher, Kungs, Lost Frequencies, Major Lazer Soundsystem, Marshmello, Martin Garrix, Netsky, Paul Kalkbrenner are among confirmed acts.

A Coca-Cola consumer promotion will run across Europe, offering winners immersive in-person brand experiences on the festival area and backstage and behind the scenes access. The brand will also present live broadcasts from the festival and “unique” artist access for home viewers.

“We know that festivals are about more than just music”

“Passion fuels everything we do at Coca-Cola, and nothing gets people moving, celebrating, and enjoying life like live music does,” says Thomas Oth, Coca-Cola country director, Belgium.

“Also, we know that festivals are about more than just music. They’re about breaking conventions and opening ourselves up to the stories and experiences we’ve missed out on over the past two years.”

Michael Willeke, integrated marketing experience director, Europe, adds: “Coca-Cola has a rich heritage in music and has been present at some of the most iconic moments in live music history, just like our brand it brings people together. It is a pleasure to bring our summer of music to our audiences once again this year, starting with Tomorrowland.”

Earlier this week, Tomorrowland revealed it is set to open Terra Solis, a new desert destination in Dubai, in September. Terra Solis is billed as providing music and entertainment with “a fun party atmosphere, and an exceptional food and beverage offering”.

 


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Festival chiefs preview the upcoming season

The cost of living crisis, an oversaturated market and rising costs threaten to create a “recipe for disaster” for the first full festival season since 2019, it has been claimed.

ILMC’s Festival Forum: New lands, new adventures panel heard divergent views from event bosses on prospects for this summer, with the public’s appetite for returning to music shows evident, but two years of lockdown and restrictions throwing up a litany of new problems.

UTA agent Beth Morton moderated the illuminating debate starring Eric van Eerdenburg of Mojo Concerts (NL), Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts (UK), Sophie Lobl of C3 Presents (US), Henrik Bondo Nielsen of Roskilde Festival (DK), Stephan Thanscheidt of FKP Scorpio (DE) and Reshad Hossenally of Festicket’s Event Genius ticketing and event technology platform.

Event Genius COO Hossenally said that, despite the anticipated rush for concert tickets after two lost years to Covid-19, other issues were cropping up.

“People don’t trust that everything is back to normal yet”

“There are a hell of a lot of shows and it’s almost a bit of a recipe for disaster because you’ve got costs going up, a lot of tickets being carried across and a huge amount of competition,” he said. “The other part is people are being told they don’t have any money in the press. I think you’ll see the buying pattern starting to become a lot later. People don’t trust that everything is back to normal yet.

“We ran a global survey and 75% of people said that they want to understand what the cancellation policies are. Before, that would have been an impulse buy – people didn’t even look at terms and conditions beforehand. The decision of buying a festival ticket now is a lot more considered. So as a festival promoter, I suspect it must be quite a scary road to see that we’re not selling as quickly.”

Roskilde head of safety and service Bondo Nielsen referenced complaints from some of his European contemporaries regarding fan behaviour since the restart, with the pandemic resulting in a lag in younger consumers attending their first festival.

“What I hear is that people talk about inexperienced audience and that they are not behaving well,” he said. “My view is that, as a festival organiser, it’s your job to manage the audience that you invite. So if they don’t behave well, you have to teach them.”

“Costs are going up at least 25% from 2019 prices”

Ellis, who heads up events such as Scotland’s Transmt, responded: “You’ve got gig veterans, and then you always get new people coming in – 16 to 17-year-olds coming along for the first time – and I think they get carried along and looked after by the older members of the audience a bit. It is a real community spirit that you get, no matter what the festival is. They’re all there for the same purpose: to enjoy music, and the shared experience of being at an event.”

Ellis considered increasing costs, exacerbated by supply chain and staffing issues, as the biggest challenge for festivals going forward.

“Certainly in the UK, costs are going up at least 25% from 2019 prices, which is really difficult,” he said. “And it’s the scarcity of kit as well, so stages, barriers – we’re having to beg, borrow and steal barriers from different arenas, because there are so many shows on. There are shows that have moved from 2020, and didn’t happen in ’21, all happening, plus the festivals, plus the outdoor business that would have taken place in ’22.

“Also, staff – lots of stewards left the industry during the pandemic. Toilets, again, lots of sporting events are taking certainly the high end toilets, maybe not the actual portaloos but the flushable toilets and trailers, so that’s a real challenge.”

“People have hung on to their tickets for a couple of years, you can’t go back to them and ask for more money”

The promoter added that simply hiking up ticket prices was not an option for this year.

“People have hung on to their tickets for a couple of years, you can’t go back to them and ask for more money,” he said. “And we’re going into a cost of living crisis globally, with people having concerns about how they’re going to pay their energy bills and everything else. So some of it will have to be passed on going forward, but it’s too late for this year.

“I think we all have to try our best to get costs down and look at innovative ways of delivering things as well. We need suppliers to give us a bit of a break really.

“The positive thing is there was a recent survey in America showing what people are looking forward to getting back to most, and concerts was top of the list, so that’s reassuring. Obviously we’re all worried about how they’re going to afford to do it, but at least they want to go to concerts.”

“There are so many artists, coming out of Covid, that haven’t done a hard ticket tour”

The conversation later switched to social media’s influence on programming and its correlation to ticket sales.

“There is so much that we have to take into account that’s not just ticket sales,” revealed C3 and Live Nation global festival talent buyer Lobl. “Obviously socials, obviously TikTok, but the show we’re booking kind of determines what we look at.”

She continued: “There are so many artists, coming out of Covid, that haven’t done a hard ticket tour. If you take someone like Doja Cat, who has been one of our biggest artists at all of our festivals, and probably had the biggest crowd at Austin City Limits and in South America, hasn’t done her own hard ticket run yet.

“It’s also a lot more global now, which makes it more fun. But it also makes it a lot harder to navigate. For us, the Latin market has been huge and there’s a lot more global booking of really sizeable bands.”

“We have also analysing tools for social media,” noted FKP head of festival booking Thanscheidt. “You also have to do look at where are the likes and plays are coming from because if they’re coming from another part of the world, it’s nice for the band, but maybe not for us putting on a festival or a show with them. Also, not every Tiktok hype translates to the festivals we book.

“In general, you don’t want to go away from the history of the festival. But you also want to keep it modern and fresh and cool at the same time. In the end, booking is a process. It is, of course, influenced by other things nowadays, but it’s still a mixture of very different facts coming together.

“It also really depends on the festival – because if you have an older audience, TikTok and all that does not play the biggest role and vice-versa, so you have to look at it very individually to make the right decisions. You have to know your market and  your audiences because sometimes it’s hard to explain, especially to agents, why this act is working and the other one is not.”

“It’s not an exact science and it never has been”

Van Eerdenberg, director of Netherlands’ Lowlands festival, shared his own booking philosophy.

“We had discussions in our programming team about this, and we ended up saying quality is not the thing we measure, but whether people are reacting and responding to it,” he said. “You have to work with what you see happening online. But it’s difficult to determine the value of an act, especially when agents are very convincing.”

Ellis pointed out that hard ticket sales were not always a barometer of an artist’s value to a festival because their audience might steer away from outdoor shows.

“It’s not an exact science and it never has been,” he added. “It’s always been a bit of gut feel, a bit of scarcity – if somebody’s not doing shows they’re more valuable to a festival than if they are doing shows because there’s a pent up demand to see them.

“Over the years at T in the Park, an act like Tom Jones went down an absolute storm. His audience wouldn’t have particularly come to a music festival, but… we had 50,000 people in front of the main stage, singing along to him, and none of them had ever seen him before. With that kind of booking, if you tried to look at the TikTok figures, it wouldn’t have synced. There was a gut feel that it would go down well, and it went down well, but sometimes we get those things wrong and nobody’s watching the act.”

 


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ARTmania spearheads launch of job site for Ukrainians

European festivals ARTmania (Romania) and Pohoda (Slovakia) have teamed up with Music Export Ukraine to launch a pan-European job site that aims to help displaced Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.

The companies say that ARTery was launched as a reaction to the war in Ukraine but that the platform will also counter the effects of the staff shortage in Europe caused by Covid.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] 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,” Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, previously told IQ.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] resume their lives with dignity in other countries”

“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 officially launched on Saturday (7 May) and is already advertising jobs for ARTmania festival, Music Export Ukraine and European Music Exporters Exchange in Belgium.

Companies can post a job, while Ukrainian music representatives can register and create a profile in order to browse job offers and apply directly. Visit the ARTery website here.

 


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