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.”
Yourope: ‘European festivals need strategy and bailout’
Yourope, the association of European festivals, has made the latest appeal for a clear perspective and a financial bailout plan to enable organisers to plan for the forthcoming summer season without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.
In a statement, Yourope asks whether festival organisers can expect to be able to hold their events as normal and at full capacity, provided they ensure that additional protective measures are in place; what measures will they need to take in terms of guests, staff and suppliers; and whether international artists be allowed to travel as needed.
The appeal outlines key requirements for a full and safe return to live including a transparent roadmap from the authorities, which would inform a strategy with clear guidelines and coherent timeframes, and a proportionate relaxation of measures which are devised using the expertise of the international festival industry.
Yourope has also called for a financial bailout plan – similar to Norway’s NOK 350m scheme – in the event that stricter Covid measures mean it is no longer economically viable for an organiser to carry out their event as normal.
“Without this bailout, planning these events becomes a forlorn hope and will grind to a halt, as our badly battered and bruised industry can no longer bear the weight of these scarcely predictable risks alongside their normal financial risks alone,” the statement says.
“Now the time has come to develop a strategy for 2021’s summer of events”
In a final call to arms, Yourope says: “Now the time has come to develop a strategy for 2021’s summer of events. We owe it to the millions of visitors who have trusted us enough not to return their tickets, to our many thousands of staff and contractors, to big-time and lesser-known artists, and to our suppliers to preserve the cultural diversity we have created as event organisers.”
Yourope – whose membership includes Spain’s Primavera Sound, the Netherlands’ Lowlands and Serbia’s Exit Festival – joins dozens of associations and festival organisers across Europe in urging governments to provide clarity and contingency for the northern hemisphere’s festival season.
Last week, Swiss promoters’ association SMPA released a similar statement co-signed by 26 domestic festivals, while Danish festival organisers welcomed the news of the introduction of vaccine passports but called for a roadmap for reopening.
Elsewhere, Portugal is examining whether ‘safe bubbles’ of vaccinated festivalgoers could be the key to keeping fans and artists safe this summer, French festival operators ‘have 11 days to save festivals’, and the UK festival sector is waiting with bated breath for the prime minister to reveal a roadmap on the 22 February.
The lessons that can be learned from 2020’s lost festival summer will be discussed at ILMC during Festival Forum: Reboot & Reset, while leading festivals operators will be discussing the evolving passions, priorities and unique features of their events in Festival Futures: Core Priorities.
Baloise first European festival to cancel 2021
Swiss concerts series Baloise Session is the first major European festival to cancel its in-person 2021 edition, as organisers say it’s “impossible to plan with any certainty” due to the limitations of the pandemic.
The Baloise Session, which has hosted acts including John Legend, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Alicia Keys and Lionel Richie, was due to take place between the 23 October to 10 November at Basel’s Event Halle but will now forgo the event for a second consecutive year.
“The decision was a difficult one to make but health comes first,” says Beatrice Stirnimann, CEO of the Baloise Session. “Covid-19 continues to affect the world and the Baloise Session in 2021. The health of our visitors, artists and staff comes first. Concerts in an intimate setting with an enthusiastic audience do not fit with social distancing and all the other current pandemic restrictions.
“Concerts in an intimate setting with an enthusiastic audience do not fit with social distancing and all the other restrictions”
“The artists are sensibly continuing to severely limit their travel, are not planning any new tours, and in these difficult times are hardly able to make binding concert engagements. All these facts make it impossible to plan with any certainty. Without planning and financial security, the Baloise Session cannot be held.
“Our principal sponsors Basler Kantonalbank, Novartis, Dufry, AMAG, Cornèrcard and IWB also show great understanding and are helping financially to make ends meet. We are extremely grateful for this loyalty. This is the lifeblood of our 35-year-old festival,” she concludes.
The Baloise Session, which sold out all 15,500 tickets for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019, will return in 2022 and in the meantime will continue with its livestreamed concert series ‘Baloise Session @ Home’.
Elsewhere in the European festival market, French metal festival Hellfest yesterday begged the government to make a decision on whether this year’s season could go ahead and Danish festival organisers have appealed for government support.
Laura Davidson joins new AEG European festivals team
Longtime Goldenvoice UK promoter Laura Davidson has joined AEG Presents’ new European festival division, established earlier this month under CEO Jim King.
Davidson joined AEG-owned Goldenvoice in 2014 alongside former Metropolis colleague Oscar Tuttiett. She was most recently Goldenvoice UK’s VP of live music.
As part of the new European festival unit, she will serve as head of artist bookings, responsible for all bookings for All Points East (APE) in Victoria Park, London. She will also support King across all existing AEG festivals, as well as future projects.
“Laura will be an integral part of the team”
“Laura will be an integral part of the team and I couldn’t be happier that she has joined us,” comments King. “She is one of the most passionate music fans that I have ever met and has proven herself to be expertly skilled in the role of originating and curating incredible festival line-ups.”
Davidson adds: “I’m excited to be joining this new division at AEG. I was very proud to have been part of the team that launched a brand-new festival with All Points East. I’m looking forward to an even better 2020 in Victoria Park, as well as working with Jim across all of AEG’s festivals.”
In addition to APE, the European festival division oversees British Summer Time Hyde Park in London and Rock en Seine in Paris.
AEG promotes Jim King to CEO, EU festivals
AEG Presents has announced that Jim King, current executive vice-president of live music, is to take on a new role as chief executive of European Festivals.
King’s appointment will launch the newly created European Festivals division, as AEG Presents looks to expand its presence in Europe. In his new role, King will seek out new opportunities in the festival space.
King previously worked for club brand Cream, later launching and running Creamfields festival. Prior to working at AEG, King ran his own company, Loudsound, which promoted and produced several UK festivals.
Since joining AEG Presents in 2008, King launched and produced BST Hyde Park in 2015 and All Points East in 2018.
The European Festivals boss will continue to work from AEG’s London office, reporting directly to president of AEG Europe, Alex Hill.
“I really believe that AEG does something truly special when it comes to festivals,” says King.
“I really believe that AEG does something truly special when it comes to festivals”
“The music fans and the artists are always at the heart of our thinking and this has meant we have been able to curate shows that resonate with them and keep both coming back.”
Hill, who says King “is without a doubt the very best at what he does”, expects “great things” from the European Festivals chief executive and his team.
“We wanted to give him [King] the freedom to accelerate AEG’s activity in the festival space hence the creation of this division and his leadership role at the head of it,” comments Hill. “Being able to confirm him in this job as we approach the second weekend of BST Hyde Park seems very fitting indeed.”
BST returns this weekend (13 and 14 July), with headline performances from Florence and the Machine and Robbie Williams. Tickets for the Saturday are still available, with general admission priced at £73.60 and VIP packages starting from £163.95.