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Ewald Tatar on “unforeseen challenges” at Nova Rock

Barracuda Music CEO Ewald Tatar has spoken to IQ about the “unforeseen and unpredictable” challenges at this year’s Nova Rock festival in Austria.

The annual hard rock event returned to Nickelsdorf last weekend (9–12 June) and featured acts including Muse, Placebo, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.

The sold-out festival saw a total of 225,000 visitors flock to Pannonia Fields, which marked a new attendance record for Nova Rock.

According to Tatar, the festival’s biggest challenge was recovering from “the rain of the century,” which hit the country mere days before the festival was due to open its gates.

“During the 3-4 final days leading up to Nova Rock 2022 it rained more in the region than during the period between November 2021 and the beginning of June 2022 in total,” explains Tatar.

“This was very challenging for the final construction work on the festival site, as the ground, which is a field used for farming the other 11 months of the year, was completely soft and our vehicles got stuck. This was also the case for the festival visitors’ cars and caravans, which slowed down the arrival process and made it very tricky. As soon as it dried up and everyone had arrived, we had perfect festival weather: sunshine and heat!”

Despite the washout, Tatar says everything worked smoothly behind the scenes and both artists and crew were happy to be back on the fields after two years.

“Festivals and big events are what everyone in our team loves and loves being a part of and you could feel this euphoria and great energy during Nova Rock,” he says.

“Most artists mentioned on stage how happy they were to be back performing for huge audiences and you could tell, that the audience shared that feeling too! The atmosphere was incredibly energetic and positive as the area in front of the stage was packed with people dancing and singing along to their favourite bands, who loved playing a big festival again.”

Nova Rock, which is promoted by Nova Music Entertainment (part of CTS Eventim’s Barracuda Music), will return between 7 and 10 June in 2023.


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Nova Rock Encore reports one Covid-19 case

Austrian promoter Barracuda says that only one Covid-19 case could be linked to Nova Rock Encore, a one-day pilot event that was organised to demonstrate that live events can safely take place in Austria.

The one-off festival was organised in response to the cancellation of Barracuda’s FM4 Frequency Festival by order of the district administration.

Nova Rock Encore was based on Barracuda’s flagship festival, Nova Rock, which was also cancelled in March this year.

The pilot event took place on 11 September at the Wiener Neustadt stadium (cap. 10,000) and saw 15,000 attendees enjoy performances from Seiler & Speer, Parov Stelar, Bullet For My Valentine, Måneskin and more.

Of the 15,000 attendees, contract tracing attributed just one Covid-19 infection to the festival, according to the organisers.

Two ticketholders reported a positive PCR result in advance of the event and, therefore, did not attend.

“For months we have been working to create perfect prevention concepts and to organise a festival trusted by all sides”

According to data from the festival, the vast majority (86%) of Nova Rock Encore attendees had been vaccinated and 14% were tested in advance. One hundred and eighty visitors opted to get vaccinated at the vaccination bus on the day of the event.

Ewald Tatar, managing director of CTS Eventim-backed Barracuda, said the results were what he expected.

“For months we have been working at full speed, not only to create perfect prevention concepts but also to organise a festival that has been trusted by all sides and which has also become a great success and a guide to the cultural future of our country,” says Tatar.

“Thanks to everyone who collaborated, to the artists, to the experts, the city of Wiener Neustadt with its esteemed mayor, to all the crews and many more. With the Nova Rock Encore, something great was achieved in a very short time and with maximum commitment. One can and must be proud of that,” he concludes.

Nova Rock will return to Pannonia Fields in Nickelsdorf between 9–12 June 2022 with headliners Muse, Foo Fights, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch.


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Austria: Live biz blasts EU for blocking funding

A coalition of Austrian live entertainment businesses has warned that the European Union’s decision to deny it emergency aid could deliver a “fatal blow” to an already struggling sector.

The Austrian government had planned to provide the country’s ailing nightlife industry with a second so-called fixed-cost subsidy (Fixkostenzuschuss II) – a payment intended to support companies with little or no business throughout autumn/winter 2020. However, the plan is not popular with Brussels, which has reportedly asked for detailed information about the subsidy, which would primarily benefit entertainment and tourism businesses.

According to Vindobona, the European Commission – whose approval is necessary for the state aid – takes issue with both the size of the package (‘phase one’ was worth €8 billion) and its duration, until 2021.

The EU’s objection to the bail-out has taken Austrian politicians by surprise, with finance minister Gernot Blümel quoted as saying: “It is bizarre that Austria has to prove that this economic catastrophe really exists.”

“If the EU says this is not a catastrophe, I no longer understand the world”

Representatives of the Austrian Event Industry Association (Interessengemeinschaft Österreichische Veranstaltungswirtschaft, IGOEV), which was formed earlier this year, are similarly bewildered, with an angry Christoph Klingler, the CEO of CTS Eventim Austria, exclaiming: “Apparently, Brussels is prepared to accept an Austria without culture and events while it concerns itself with the technical details.”

“The culture and events industry is on the ground,” adds Ewald Tatar, head of leading promoter Barracuda Music. “If the EU says that this is not a catastrophe, then I no longer understand the world.”

“The consequences” of blocking the phase-two subsidy “will be dramatic: Masses of bankruptcies, ruined livelihoods and an entire industry, with all its employees and service providers, having to start again from scratch,” says Matthias Rotermund of Live Nation Austria. “The entertainment industry will take years to get back on its feet.”

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz last week announced the tightening of coronavirus restrictions amid an increase in daily cases of Covid-19, including limiting mass gatherings to 1,500 people. The country previously had one of the most liberal attitudes towards live events in Europe, allowing up to 10,000 people in stadia with social distancing.


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