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Festivals can still make a difference

The Covid pandemic has been the harshest on the events and festival industry, keeping in mind that mass gatherings were the first to be shut down and will be the last to reopen.

The worst thing is that nobody knows when the revival of the festivals might happen. Uncertainty is at its highest point. However, despite unprecedented challenges, there is still a lot that festivals can do.

Most festivals have turned to the digital world in order to remain present in the lives of their fans. Some offered videos of their past editions, some built complex pay-per-view virtual worlds with exclusive superstar shows.

At Exit we decided to take a somewhat unique approach. Exit started as a youth movement for peace and freedom in Serbia and the Balkans 20 years ago.

Since then, social activism remains as important as the music itself through the work of Exit Foundation, which runs the festival, among other projects.

The Foundation’s work varies from humanitarian initiatives, such as helping to build a hospital wing for children with cancer, and participating in a global campaign to stop human trafficking, to projects in youth development, peace promotion and environmental protection.

We were also responsible for bringing the titles of European Culture Capital and European Youth Capital to our home city of Novi Sad.

Life Stream is an open-source platform that can run by every event in the world

Dedication to social activism is the reason we decided to mark Exit’s 20th anniversary with one of our biggest environmental projects to date, Life Stream, in which regular festival streams combine with video and messaging to alert the audience to the seriousness of the environmental crisis: if humanity doesn’t change course, Planet Earth could become inhabitable in just a few decades!

We launched a pilot edition of this project during ADE 2019 with Artbat performing from The Crane in Amsterdam.

The next level involves partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), to illustrate the crisis that is happening as we speak.

The pandemic and lockdown measures, together with climate change, are pushing a record number of people to the edge of extreme hunger.

It’s estimated that 270 million people will be in danger before the end of 2020 – an 80% increase from 2019.

Life Stream 2020 is a four-day festival, 3–6 September, taking place at Petrovaradin Fortress, where Exit Festival takes place.

From our legendary Dance Arena, we brought together international stars alongside our most famous regional acts. Some performances were live from the Fortress and some will be exclusive online sets, which we’ll present as if they’re live onstage.

The task of our generation is to build not a new normal, but a new Earth

We built a big production for this, one of the few actual stages that will be built this year. Viewers joined us online via stream, free of charge, and we had a small live audience, adhering to government guidelines and current health and safety measures.

During the stream there was be a call to action for people to donate directly to the UN’s WFP page.

Life Stream is an open-source platform that can run by every event in the world that wants to dedicate media space to support social issues.

Helping others is the strongest motivation to realise such a project, even in such difficult times. The pandemic is the fourth emergency state we at EXIT have experienced in our lives.

Therefore, we can offer a few words of consolation: that no matter how bad the situation looks at the moment, the clouds will disappear and the sun will shine again.

It is up to us in the festival world to be at the forefront of not allowing the ‘new normal’ to be a world with no contact, but for the pandemic to bring us to a more responsible way of thinking about the world around us.

The task of our generation is to build not a new normal, but a ‘new Earth,’ where humanity will be in harmony with the life around us. If we don’t succeed, we might be the last generation to try.

 


Dušan Kovačević is founder and CEO of Exit Festival in Serbia.

Exit Festival kicks off 20th anniversary celebrations

After postponing this year’s festival twice due to spikes in Coronavirus, Exit Festival has finally kicked off its 20th-anniversary celebrations with a smaller, hybrid event.

Last weekend, the Serbian festival launched Life Stream, a four-day socially-distanced festival which invited 500 fans per night to watch live performances in its Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad.

DJ’s including Carl Cox, Charlotte de Witte, Nina Kraviz, Adam Beyer and Black Coffee performed on the specially-built stage where the Exit’s mts Dance Arena would usually be.

Footage from Life Stream, which has been organised in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), will be broadcast over two long weekends (17–20 and 24–27 September), along with videos and messages about looming environmental and hunger crises.

Exit’s Life Stream also included the international panel Conscious Music, which featured key members of the WFP including David Beasley and Exit’s Dušan Kovačević.

Life Stream will be broadcast over two weekends, along with messages about environmental and hunger crisis

Beasley pointed out that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people exposed to extreme hunger has increased to as many as 270 million, which is an increase of over 80% compared to the previous year.

According to Kovačević, if humanity does not change the direction it is moving in, our planet may become uninhabitable over the course of the following decades, due to the worsening climate changes.

He added that with the Life Stream project Exit wants to set a good example and encourage other festivals to use their media space to draw the public’s attention to the environmental and hunger crisis.

The Life Stream concept will be developed as an open-source platform and will be offered to other festivals and events around the world, for free.

Exit Festival will return next year from 8th to 11th July, with performances from David Guetta, Tyga, Eric Prydz, Four Tet, Boris Brejcha and more. Next year also marks 60 years of the United Nations World Food Programme.

 


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Exit Festival cancels 2020 edition

The organisers of Exit Festival, one of the last major events of 2020 still standing, have announced the event will not go ahead this year, amid a deterioration of the public health situation in Serbia.

The Serbian mega festival had given some hope to music industry professionals and fans earlier this year, after organisers declared the event would be postponed from July to the end of August, rather than cancelled, in accordance with advice from the government and health officials.

The team went on to announce a stellar line-up of acts including Amelia Lens, Nina Kraviz, Denis Sulta, Maceo Plex and Robin Schulz, set to perform to a 50% capacity crowd at the Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad.

The first warning signs appeared last week, when IQ learned that organisers were planning on reducing capacity by at least 90% and exploring options of having a merely “symbolic” audience, with most of the event playing out to fans online, due to new outbreaks of the virus in Serbia.

Now, however, it has been confirmed that no physical edition of Exit Festival will take place this year, with the potential for a symbolic livestreamed-focus event to take place in September.

“We have gone through many challenges. This is one of the greatest of all, but as always we will prevail”

“The health situation in Serbia has not improved since we last addressed you and having in mind that your health and safety comes first, the 20 year celebration of Exit Festival will not take place from 13 to 16 August this year at Petrovaradin Fortress,” reads a statement from organisers.

“We will announce Exit 2021 dates by the end of the month, but as rescheduling the festival dates is such a huge and comprehensive process which takes time, we are asking you for a little more patience.

“It has not been an easy decision to make, but, again, the health and safety of festivalgoers, artists and all our team members paramount and under the current circumstances, this was the best decision to make.

“We have gone through many challenges. This is one of the greatest of all, but as always we will prevail and we still hope that soon we will be able to send positive message of hope to all colleagues, friends, festival community and fans to strive on, and that we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Organisers state they are currently “considering” the option for an event in September, which would incorporate the festival’s environment-focused Life Stream and Green R:Evolution platforms.

Information regarding refunds will be released soon for those who do not wish to carry their ticket over to next year.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Biggest billing of the summer? Exit unveils 2020 line-up

Organisers of Exit Festival have revealed the first wave of acts for this summer’s event, which could well be one of the only major European festivals to take place this year.

Amid a sea of major festival cancellations, the Exit team confirmed the festival was going ahead this year, following a recommendation from the Serbian prime minster that the event be postponed to August, rather than cancelled.

Among those travelling to Serbia to perform at the festival, which is taking place from 13 to 16 August, are Amelie Lens, Nina Kraviz, Robin Schulz, Marcel Dettmann, Denis Sulta, Roni Size and Paul Kalkbrenner, with many more acts yet to be announced.

In accordance with health and government guidelines, Exit will open at least 20 stages and zones throughout its expansive site at the Petrovaradin fortress, with the number of attendees limited to 50% of its usual 55,000-person capacity.

“We wish to send a message of hope to the world that the worst is behind us where the pandemic is concerned”

The festival’s main stage, MTS dance arena and No Sleep Novi Sad stage will all be in operation this year, as well as latino, hip-hop, drum and bass and reggae stages, and the Urban Bug stage, an area dedicated to showcasing local acts

Founded 20 years ago as a campaign for peace and freedom in Serbia and the Balkans, the social message of Exit Festival “seems as important [now] as ever”, says festival co-founder and CEO Dušan Kovačević.

“We wish to send a message of hope to the world that the worst is behind us where the pandemic is concerned, but also stress that there is so much work we all need to do for issues such as racial inequality and the destruction of our planet.”

Tickets for Exit Festival 2020 are available here for €99 and with travel packages starting from €149. The festival is also offering its usual “4+1” offer, with groups buying four tickets getting a fifth for free.

Fans who purchased tickets before sales were put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak can decide to use their ticket for the August edition of the festival, exchange it for next year’s festival, or seek a refund in accordance with Serbian Government conditions for events postponed due to Covid-19.

 


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Dates confirmed for Exit Festival 2020

Exit Festival – potentially one of the only major European festivals to take place as normal this year – has confirmed the dates for its 20th anniversary event this August.

Amid a sea of major festival cancellations, it was announced last week that Exit Festival is going ahead this year, following a recommendation from the Serbian prime minster that the event be postponed, rather than cancelled.

Scheduled for 13 to 16 August, rather than its typical July dates, Exit 2020 will have a reduced capacity – rumoured to be 50% of its maximum 55,000 people per day – and will see some areas of the festival site at the Petrovaradin fortress remaining closed.

Exit organisers confirm that popular areas including the dance arena, main stage and the No Sleep stage will be open as usual.

“We got so many messages of support from other festival promoters, agents and artists who see Exit as a sign of a revival for the whole event industry”

An updated line-up will be revealed in the coming days, with the Exit team saying that “a vast majority of artists” they have spoken to “are eager to perform this summer”.

Acts booked to play Exit this year prior to the coronavirus outbreak included David Guetta, Tyga, James Arthur, Fatboy Slim, Metronomy and Meduza.

Ticket sales will restart on 1 June, with details of refund options also becoming available.

“We got so many messages and emails of support from other festival promoters, agents and artists who see Exit as a sign of a revival for the whole event industry,” says Exit founder Dušan Kovačević.

“Even more important[ly], [this is] a sign for the whole society that the worst is behind us. It’s time to globally exit from this pandemic.”

More information can be found here.

 


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