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10,000-person pilot event called off amid unrest

The future of the Netherlands’ highly publicised pilot events are in doubt after local authorities today (19 April) forced the cancellation of 538 Koningsdag, a 10,000-person festival which would have been the series’ largest event to date.

Fieldlab Evenementen, the industry-backed body responsible for organising the successful Back to Live series of test concerts, conferences, festivals and club events, announced last week that phase two of Back to Live would include 538 Koningsdag (‘King’s Day’) on 24 April, as well as a 3,500-person concert on 7 May and another nightclub event on 15 May.

While the shows to date – which, like pilot events in other countries, aim to test how coronavirus may be transmitted between audience members in a range of formats – have generally been received positively by music fans and in the wider industry, a backlash has been growing in recent days over the perceived cost of Back to Live, as well as the appropriateness of holding large events before enough Dutch have received Covid-19 vaccines.

While many of the objections are based on misinformation – for example, one popular tweet appears to confuse the €925 million the government has set aside for its Testen voor Toegang (Testing for Access) programme with Fieldlab’s costs, estimated at under €3m – a petition calling on organisers to cancel 538 Koningsdag appears to have genuine support, having drawn more than 370,000 signatures since Saturday.

The petitioners focus on the festival’s location in the city of Breda, near a hospital, as their chief grievance, writing that “celebrating a party with 10,000 people 400 metres from a hospital overloaded by Covid-19 is a blow to patients and caregivers”.

“The police are getting more and more signals that 538 Oranjedag will attract both supporters and opponents of Fieldlab”

Ultimately, the Dutch government left the decision to city authorities, which decided today to decline a permit for the event, this year also called 538 Oranjedag (‘Orange Day’), citing the potential for disruption at the festival.

“The police are getting more and more signals that 538 Oranjedag will attract both supporters and opponents of the [government’s] coronavirus policy and Fieldlab, with all the associated security risks,” says Breda’s mayor, Paul Depla. “As mayor, I stand for the safety of the police officers, local residents and visitors to the event.”

Everyone who bought tickets for the festival will be refunded, says Radio 538.

Another Fieldlab event, Startschotgala (1 May) in Lichtenvoorde – another festival-type event that sold all 10,000 tickets in just ten minutes – will also be called off, and more cancellations are expected, according to local media.

Annette Bronsvoort, mayor of Oost Gelre, says the cancellation was the decision of organisers, not the city. “This is because of the social debate, and the pressure on healthcare,” she says in a statement. “I understand this decision and I respect it. ”

Preliminary results from the first Back to Live shows in February revealed that the risk of transmission in a live environment is low, tallying with studies from other countries – and a result organisers had hoped to replicate with the larger events.

At press time, the Netherlands had 8,505 new cases of Covid-19.

 


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More than 1m registrations for 10k Fieldlab test

More than a million residents have signed up for Fieldlab’s largest test event yet, the 10,000-capacity 538 Koningsdag (King’s Day) festival in the Netherlands.

Registrations opened this week to unprecedented demand and all 10,000 tickets were raffled on Thursday (15 April) evening.

The rock and pop festival, which is organised each year by Radio 538, will be held as usual at Chasséveld in Breda on the 24 April.

Newly announced acts include Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Emma Heesters, Gerard Joling, Kraantje Pappie, Krezip, Kris Kross Amsterdam, Lucas & Steve, Maan, Miss Montreal, Racoon, Rolf and Sanchez.

“Newly announced acts include Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, Emma Heesters and Gerard Joling”

Ticket holders will be required to take a rapid test no more than 24 hours prior to the start of the event and only those with negative results will be admitted.

Attendees must also take a second rapid test five days after the event. Vulnerable groups are excluded from participation.

538 Koningsdag is just one of many large-scale test events announced by the Dutch initiative. Yesterday evening the 3FM Awards 2021 took place at TivoliVredenburg, attended by 1,000 visitors.

Other upcoming large-scale Fieldlab events include a Racoon concert on 7 May (3,500 people) and a nightclub test event in Amsterdam on 15 May, which can be attended by 1,000 people.

Alongside the government-approved Fieldlab tests, the state has also announced 80 concerts across nine days as part of an extensive pilot programme of cultural activities – marking a test event boom in the Netherlands.

 


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Fieldlab announces test event for 10,000 visitors

Fieldlab Evenementen, the Dutch initiative behind the Back to Live series, has received permission from the government to scale up its forthcoming test events.

538 Koningsdag (King’s Day), a rock and pop festival that takes place annually at Chasséveld in Breda, will be the largest Fieldlab test event so far, admitting 10,000 visitors.

The festival will take place on 24 April with artists including Snollebollekes, Davina Michelle, Chef’Special and Di-rect.

The event marks a second phase of the Fieldlab test events, whereby the organisers will trial certain measures with increased visitor capacities.

“It is great that we can do these upscaling tests, where we can test previously acquired knowledge with higher visitor numbers,” says Marcel Elbertse, chairman of Fieldlab Events.

“We are well aware that this is an absolute privilege, especially with the current epidemiological picture”

“We are well aware that this is an absolute privilege, especially with a look at the current epidemiological picture, where easing is not yet forthcoming. However, this new research is essential for the second phase of Fieldlab Events.”

Other upcoming large-scale Fieldlab events include the 3FM Awards taking place today (15 April) with 1,500 visitors, a Racoon concert on 7 May (3,500 people) and a nightclub test event in Amsterdam on 15 May, which can be attended by 1,000 people.

It was announced at the beginning of April that the Eurovision Song Contest would also become a Fieldlab test event, for which 3,500 people a day will be admitted to the 16,426-capacity Rotterdam Ahoy arena from 18 to 22 May.

Fieldlab recently shared the findings from the first part of its Back to Live test series, which involved a business conference and a cabaret show by the Dutch comedian Guido Weijers. The Back to Live series also included concerts, festivals and other live events.

See an overview of upcoming Fieldlab test results below:

15 April – 3FM Awards – TivoliVredenburg Utrecht – 1,500 visitors
24 April – De Efteling Kaatsheuvel – 8,000 visitors
24 April – 538 Orange Day – Chasséveld Breda – 10,000 visitors
1 May – Starting shot gala – Event area Lichtenvoorde – 10,000 visitors
7 May – Concert Racoon – Mainstage Den Bosch – 3,500 visitors
8 May – Mud Masters – Floriade terrain Haarlemmermeer – 9,000 visitors
14 May – The Residentie Orkest – Zuiderstrandtheater The Hague – 1,000 visitors
15 May – Nightclub – Club (tbc) Amsterdam – 1,000 visitors
16 May – Enschede Marathon – Twenthe Airport Event location Enschede – 5,000 visitors
17 to 22 May – Eurovision Song Contest – Ahoy Rotterdam – 9 x 3,500 visitors
20 May – EventSummit – Jaarbeurs Utrecht – 3,000 visitors
Date TBC – Back to Live – Walibi Event area Walibi Holland Biddinghuizen – 9,000 visitors

 


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