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‘First hybrid festival’ debuts in Arctic Norway

The world’s northernmost jazz festival is hosting what it believes is Europe’s first ‘hybrid’ festival event – combining a traditional in-person component with a paid-for live stream – in order to reach a larger audience while coronavirus restrictions are in place.

Varanger Festival has been held in Vadsø, in northern Norway, since 1982, with some 12,000 festivalgoers making the pilgrimage north annually to see top jazz artists perform against the unique backdrop of the midnight sun.

“Unfortunately Covid-19 is something event organisers will have to deal with for some time, and we believe the hybrid solution we have chosen is the long-term answer,” explains festival director André Kvernhaug.

“Normally we sell 12,000 tickets during the festival, but with social distancing rules we have scaled down sharply. We have moved the festival to a different venue which only has a normal capacity of 250 – which has itself been reduced to 86 per concert. With 13 concerts in all, this gives us a total capacity of 1,118 tickets for the entire festival.”

“Livestreaming significantly expands our capacity”

Small socially distanced events have been permitted in Norway since May, though promoters’ association NKA is clear that socially distanced shows are not financially viable for its members.

In order to expand its reach, Varanger Festival is selling tickets for live streams of the festival performances via TicketCo, which launched its pay-per-view livestreaming platform, TicketCo TV, earlier this year.

The streams are priced at 100 kr (€9.40), compared to 200 kr (€18.80) or 375 kr (€35.20) for tickets for the physical shows.

“Livestreaming significantly expands our capacity and makes the concerts available to those who cannot or will not be able to physically attend,” adds Kvernhaug.

Carl-Erik Michalsen Moberg, chief sales officer of TicketCo TV, comments: “We are proud to be supporting Varanger Festival and its team, who are embracing technology to ensure it can keep performing and reach new audiences.

“We are confident this approach will fast become the new normal”

“We believe they are the first organisers in Europe to be producing a hybrid festival and are confident this approach will fast become the new normal in the events industry.”

Varanger Festival takes place from 5 to 8 August 2020, headlined by Norwegian jazz legend Nils Petter Molvaer.

While Varanger is the first hybrid festival, hybrid concerts have existed for some time – though the limitations imposed by Covid-19 have focused attention on the format. brought Read IQ’s interview with singer-songwriter Emma McGann, who has been selling virtual tickets since 2014, here:

“Go live and go live often”: Livestream pioneer chats ‘hybrid’ touring

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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