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Amsterdam’s new rules ‘tough blow’ for events

The Dutch industry has slammed new regulations introduced by the Amsterdam municipality in response to a murder at a local festival.

The new rules require events with a capacity of more than 2,000 people to halt ticket sales one day before the event takes place, among other things.

The restrictions come after a 21-year-old man was stabbed to death in May at Amsterdam-based techno and house festival Solid Grooves, organised by ID&T-backed Apenkooi.

ID&T said they identified “serious shortcomings” in the organisation of the festival – including by selling “significantly more” tickets than was permitted – and subsequently dismissed its management team.

It was later revealed the organiser had applied for a permit for 4,999 people but the event was attended by around 7,500, rendering security at the festival insufficient.

“This can have major financial consequences for organisers”

Reacting to the news, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema imposed a total of four new permit requirements on organisers “to ensure the safety of visitors”.

In addition to halting last-minute ticket sales, Amsterdam events may “never allow more than the number of permitted visitors to be present simultaneously within the gates of the event site” and events must submit a “security deployment plan” approved by the police at least two weeks before the start.

Artists and crew are now also included in the total number of visitors allowed in the building according to the permit.

The new restrictions have prompted Amsterdam promoters Pleinvrees and Awakenings to cancel tickets for sold-out events at this week’s Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE).

“Following recently issued guidelines from the Municipality of Amsterdam regarding permits, there has been a change whereby artists and their entourage are no longer considered crew,” read a statement from Pleinvrees. “This has led to more limited capacity for regular visitors. These tightened regulations came as a surprise to us.”

“[The measures] are nothing more than a band-aid which ultimately will not solve the crucial problems”

Awakenings wrote in a statement: “To ensure that we meet our obligations, we are forced to give a limited number of visitors their money back, a difficult decision. We choose the last ticket buyers. Unfortunately, returning your money is the only solution. We understand that this decision comes unexpectedly.”

While a spokesperson for ADE added: “This is a tough blow for organisers who have not sold out 24 hours before the start. We cannot yet see the extent of the negative consequences, but the festival summer was already financially difficult for many organisers, so we can imagine that this measure will fall flat on their roof.

“This can have major financial consequences for organisers, because the last tickets often contain the earnings that pay the fixed costs.”

Meanwhile, Amsterdam-based blockchain ticketing service GUTS Tickets dubbed the measures “nothing more than a band-aid which ultimately will not solve the crucial problems at hand”.

While large events are not permitted to sell tickets in the 24 hours preceding the event, resale platforms are exempt from these rules.

“These regulations inadvertently encourage a surge in secondary ticket sales, increasing the potential for fraud and scalping,” says GUTS co-founder Tom Roetgering.

 


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Awakenings director Rocco Veenboer steps down

Awakenings director Rocco Veenboer is stepping down after almost 30 years at the helm.

He will, however, remain at the Netherlands-based techno empire until 2027 as a consultant.

“I am 55 years old now and it is time to pass the baton to the new generation in terms of duties and responsibilities,” he said.

The festival, promoted by Superstruct’s ID&T, was founded in 1997 as a techno party at the Gashouder in Amsterdam. The event eventually expanded to include venues such as the Klokgebouw in Eindhoven and the Graansilo in Rotterdam.

“These have been fantastic decades”

Awakenings is best known for its large-scale weekend festivals in Spaarnwoude and Hilvarenbeek that attract tens of thousands of people each day.

In recent decades, Awakenings has grown into the largest event brand in the Netherlands with as many as 300,000 visitors per year.

“In 1997 we organised three parties, which together attracted around 10,000 visitors.” says Veenboer. “At the time, we were one of the first to do major audio-visual work. Looking back now, we have welcomed over 3.5 million people to Awakenings. These have been fantastic decades. I’m grateful that I lived in Amsterdam in 1988 and then got to be part of the musical house and techno revolution.”

The third and final day of Awakenings 2023 was called off due to weather warnings, marking “the most heartbreaking day in the past 26 years of organising Awakenings”.

 


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Awakenings ‘heartbroken’ after calling off final day

Major Dutch festivals Awakenings, Bospop and Wildeburg were cut short yesterday (9 July) due to severe weather warnings.

On Saturday night (8 July), the national weather forecasting service (KNMI) issued a code orange for a raft of provinces including Limburg and North Brabant due to expected severe thunderstorms and hail.

Following advice from a number of authorities, Awakenings, a techno festival promoted by Superstruct-backed ID&T called off its third and final day but the weather wasn’t as severe as expected.

“Yesterday marked the most heartbreaking day in the past 26 years of organising Awakenings. For the past year, we poured our heart and soul into creating the most unforgettable edition of Awakenings Summer Festival,” reads a statement from organisers.

“This challenging decision was based on the available weather and safety information at that time. That the weather subsequently changed is a testament to the unpredictability of such conditions. It also indicates how painful the decision was.

“However, we stand fully behind that decision. Particularly after learning about the impact the hail, lightning and storm had around our area. While it may seem in hindsight that our visitors, crew and venue were spared from severe weather consequences, we know it was the right course of action.

“We extend our gratitude to all those who have reached out, offering messages of support and understanding. It devastates us to read and see the negative comments about yesterday’s decision. We know you’re hurt, we know you’re upset. We are too.

“Yesterday marked the most heartbreaking day in the past 26 years of organising Awakening”

“Just how we poured our heart and soul into the organization of Awakenings Summer Festival, we are fully committed to resolving the issue of refunds for our weekend and Sunday visitors. In the upcoming period, we will get in contact with all of you about a refund plan.”

The festival in Hilvarenbeek, Brabant, attracts more than 100,000 visitors across three days. Around 32,000 visitors were expected on Sunday, 6,000 of whom were from abroad. Shelter was arranged for them on-site “in cottages, restaurants and party rooms”. “They already have a mat and sleeping bag, which makes a difference,” said a spokesperson.

Shortly before that, the third and final day of annual rock festival Bospop was called off. The Weert-based festival welcomes around 50,000 people each year.

“Due to this extreme weather, the local government, in consultation with the organisation, has decided to cancel the Bospop festival today for safety reasons,” the festival management writes in a message. Those present were asked to leave the campsite as quickly and quietly as possible.

Electronic music festival Wildeburg, a three-day festival that takes place in Kraggenburg, Flevoland, was also cut short due to the predicted weather conditions.

“Unfortunately, due to bad weather, we had to make the decision in consultation with the emergency services to cancel Sunday. Our main priority is your safety and with the current weather forecast, it cannot be guaranteed,” a statement said.

Visitors with a day ticket for Sunday were not admitted and campers were told to pack up and leave.

All three festivals announced that they will soon provide more information about financial compensation.

 


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Mysteryland sets sustainability goal

The Netherlands’ leading dance festival Mysteryland is set to enter a new phase of sustainable planning in its 30th anniversary year.

As of next year, approximately 80% of the festival’s power consumption will consist of green grid power, according to organisers, while the remaining 20% will mainly consist of flexible, sustainably generated energy.

The pledge is a collaboration with the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, Recreatieschap Spaarnwoude and Mysteryland promoter ID&T Group.

“We are extremely proud to take this important step forward together with the other parties involved and hope this will inspire other organisers to do the same,” says Mysteryland MD Milan Raven. “This effort fits perfectly with our recent signing of the Green Deal Circular Festivals, which focuses on sustainable innovation and in which we have promised to work hard to become more circular and climate neutral in the future.”

The green grid power will be supplied by local energy company Tegenstroom, which is owned by the Municipality. Tegenstroom supplies 100% locally generated solar power produced by entrepreneurs in the region including neighbouring farmer Jos Koeckhoven, whose land forms part of Mysteryland’s campsite.

Mysteryland recently signed up to the Green Deal Circular Festivals sustainability pact

Mysteryland and its partners have devised a plan to supply energy to the festival, with electricity cables being dug deep into the ground. Underground wells will be constructed at places where a lot of power is needed, such as the main stages. During the festival, containers will be placed on these wells, which will work similar to large-scale power sockets, fed with solar power from neighbours.

The campsite will be used as a ‘testing ground’ for new forms of sustainable energy. All parties involved have made a one-off investment that will provide a medium-voltage grid power supply, while various grants were also received.

Mysteryland recently signed up to the Green Deal Circular Festivals (GDCF) sustainability pact during the Amsterdam Dance Event. Launched in 2019 by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, GDCF brings together participating festivals to share knowledge and experience on sustainability practices in a bid to become circular and climate-neutral by 2025.

Mysteryland returns to Haarlemmermeer, near Amsterdam, from 25-27 August 2023.

 


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Lowlands festival site to be used as refugee shelter

The festival site where Dutch festivals Lowlands and Defqon. 1 are held each year will become a shelter for more than 1,000 registered refugees.

The first refugees are expected at Walibi Holland in Biddinghuizen, central Netherlands, in three weeks’ time and will be accommodated in temporary housing units until next spring.

The shelter will be used to relieve the burden on the asylum seekers’ centre in Ter Apel, Groningen, until April 2023 when the site will be available for festivals again.

The mayor of governing providence Dronten, Jean Paul Gebber, tells de Volkskrant that Walibi Holland is a good choice for a temporary shelter because of the festivals that are organised there. “If we can build a village here for 60,000 people three times a year, we can also set up a village for 1,500 asylum seekers if there is a need for it.”

The mayor of Dronten says that Walibi Holland is a good choice because of the festivals that are organised there

Walibi Holland hosts the 55,000-capacity Lowlands (aka A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise) in August each year, with the 2023 edition set for 18–20 of that month.

The festival’s promoter, Live Nation-backed Mojo Concerts, recently opened the world’s largest solar carport in Walibi Holland’s on-site car park.

The site is shared by Defqon. 1 which is promoted by Q-dance, part of the Superstruct-backed ID&T group.

The electronic dance music festival is due to return to the site between 22–25 June, 2023.

 


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ID&T links with electronic music promoter Apenkooi

Superstruct Entertainment’s ID&T has purchased a stake in fellow Dutch electronic music promoter Apenkooi Group.

The strategic partnership with Superstruct and ID&T is designed to accelerate the company’s trajectory, unlocking new opportunities for the group in the areas of brand partnerships activation and events sustainability.

Launched in 2004 with a local party in the Utrecht-based Club Monza, Apenkooi’s portfolio has grown to include brands such as DGTL, STRAF_WERK, Pleinvrees, Amsterdam Open Air and The Gardens of Babylon. It also organises festivals internationally and promotes Elrow events in the Netherlands.

“ Joining a global platform of industry-leading, like-minded entrepreneurs will take Apenkooi to the next level and enable our company to seize the numerous growth opportunities within electronic music events brand partnerships and sustainability,” says Jasper Goossen CEO and co-founder of Apenkooi.

ID&T, which signed a partnership agreement with Superstruct last year, runs events such as Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake.

“We are very happy and proud to welcome so many talented and passionate people to our family. Not only does Apenkooi have an amazing portfolio with brands such as DGTL, STRAF_WERK and Pleinvrees, we also have been partners already in several festivals such as Amsterdam Open Air, Valhalla and By the Creek for many years,” adds ID&T Group CEO Ritty van Straalen.

“In addition to the many popular festivals, their in-house brand partnership agency will also become part of the group. For the ID&T brand partnership team this is a very important step to further expand the partnership portfolio with commercial and qualitative propositions.”

 


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TicketSwap grows international footprint

Price-capped ‘ethical’ ticket marketplace TicketSwap has expanded to new markets in Europe and Latin America.

The Amsterdam-headquartered firm is growing its international footprint by opening offices in London, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Berlin, Stockholm and São Paulo, which will serve as its first Latin American base.

The company has also signed a multi-year deal with Sziget, the company behind Sziget Festival, to be the brand’s official resale partner until 2026. Other partners include Hellfest (France), LWE (UK), Bootshaus (Germany), Norbergfestival (Sweden), Entourage and Ingresse (Brazil).

“After the pandemic, fan behaviours are changing dramatically, and with over 750,000 people attending our events every year, it’s crucial for us to have an option for fans to safely sell their tickets to other authentic fans,” says Sziget CEO Tamás Kádár. “I’m convinced that the more we see event organisers supporting ethical fan resale sites, the quicker we can bring an end to ticket touts and help protect our fans.”

“We’ve focused on the business growth and expansion to new markets, while reinforcing our presence in existing markets”

The company, which launched in 2012 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, caps the resale price of tickets at 20% above face value.

Last year, TicketSwap raised $10 million in new funding from Amsterdam-based venture-capital firm Million Monkeys.

“Thanks to our first funding raised in June 2021, we’ve focused on the business growth and expansion to new markets, while reinforcing our presence in existing markets,” says Hans Ober, co-founder and CEO of TicketSwap, which counts 6.5 million users in 36 countries.

TicketSwap is also extending its partnership with Netherlands-based Tomorrowland promoter ID&T Group.

“We’re thrilled to support our partners in this crucial phase for their businesses,” adds Simon Aurik, CMO and CCO of TicketSwap. “Our 10th anniversary is also the perfect occasion for us to give back to the community and partners.”

 


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Dutch event sector loses summary proceedings

The Dutch event sector has lost the summary proceedings that were brought against the state due to the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

Twenty organisations including Mojo, ID&T, Unmute Us and Apenkooi Events demanded in court that all events and club nights be allowed again without restrictions on capacity and time.

As of 25 September, indoor events are restricted to 75% capacity of the venue and are required to close between 00:00 and 06:00 CET.

The Dutch event sector has continuously argued that the government restrictions do not reflect the three months’ worth of findings from the Fieldlab Evenementen studies.

However, the judge said that the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has, in fact, factored in the results when giving advice to the outgoing cabinet: “That has led to a decision to gradually relax with the abolition of the one and a half meter measure, but with additional measures for indoor events.

“The reason we are still not allowed to open completely is not substantiated”

“This does not lead to an unjustified distinction with other branches. The necessity of the measures taken for indoor events has been explained by the State and that explanation is not incomprehensible.”

The organisations that went to court say they are deeply disappointed.

MOJO director Ruben Brouwer says: “Over a year and a half ago we were the first to close and now we are at the back of the queue to be able to open fully again despite all our efforts. The cabinet continues to focus on keeping our sector closed even longer and has even asked us not to organise dance parties because they could not legally prohibit this. We are considering steps to be taken, but we must and will continue towards the autumn and we will do everything we can to organise the events for visitors and artists in the best possible and safe way.”

Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group, adds: “We are extremely disappointed. We have been standing still for over 18 months and in that time have demonstrated through various Fieldlabs, together with the government, that we can safely organise events. The reason we are still not allowed to open completely is not substantiated.

“The Fieldlab advice explicitly states that organising events at 100% capacity, both indoor and outdoor, is safe if the guidelines from the research are followed. Our Fieldlab results are successfully used in Belgium to organise events safely, at 100% capacity. It is incomprehensible that we in the Netherlands still have to remain partly closed while the very last step would be that the 1.5 meters would go off. Now we are the very last step.

“We must show solidarity with society, but where is the solidarity towards us?”

Jasper Goossen, on behalf of newly formed campaign group Unmute Us, says: “We are despondent by the wall we keep running into. It is frustrating that the judge apparently cannot allow our investigation results to outweigh arbitrary advice and decisions from the OMT and the cabinet, but we will continue to fight for the preservation of our sector. We recently took to the streets with more than 150,000 people to demonstrate how essential our sector is. Besides the fact that our sector guarantees more than 100,000 jobs, it also provides an essential social outlet for young and old. We must show solidarity with society, but where is the solidarity towards us?”

The Dutch government has attempted to soften the blow of the restrictions by announcing a €15 million fund to compensate promoters and venues for lost revenue from indoor standing shows – on top of its €385m guarantee fund.

Lowlands festival director Eric van Eerdenburg last week told the International Festival Forum (IFF) that the guarantee fund helped to “keep the festival infrastructure alive” and that the industry was looking at implementing a long-term contingency plan for unforeseen circumstances like Covid.

“As an industry, we’re looking at an alliance right now and adding a levy of €1 per ticket to go towards an insurance fund for unforeseen circumstances like Covid,” says van Eerdenburg.

Eerdenburg went on to say that the fans also played a crucial part in keeping the business alive during the Covid-19 pandemic due to a vast majority holding onto tickets.

“The audiences have been our bank,” the Lowlands director said. “A ticket is like a crowdfunding exercise. Even after the second round of cancellations we said we’d pay everyone back, and the audience didn’t want it. We should be grateful to our audiences because without them everyone would have gone bust.”

 


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Superstruct expands in the Dutch festival market

Live powerhouse Superstruct Entertainment has acquired a stake in Amsterdam-based Festival Travel.

Specialising in festival holidays, Festival Travel has organised travel arrangements for international visitors to events such as Exit in Serbia and Hungary’s Sziget and Balaton Sound over the past decade.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct produces a number of major European festivals including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar and the Dutch festival Zwarte Cross.

“It is very valuable to gain the trust of a company of this size”

“It is very valuable to gain the trust of a company of this size,” says Festival Travel co-owner Ruud Bongaerts. “The customer experience is always central to our way of acting and with that, we create unique festival summers for tens of thousands of young people every year.

“The past summers were of course very difficult for us, with everything that resulted from the corona pandemic, but this new chapter gives us a lot of confidence in the future.”

The parties released no further details on the deal, which was reported by Netherlands-based publication Entertainment Business and comes a week after Superstruct signed a partnership agreement with Dutch promoter ID&T.

 


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ID&T joins forces with Superstruct Entertainment

Dutch promoter ID&T has signed a partnership agreement with leading live organisation Superstruct Entertainment.

According to today’s announcement, the deal has helped steer ID&T into “a safe haven” after a tough year and a half that saw the company take out a number of loans, slash its workforce, and cancel its festivals.

“By creating this financially sound situation, we have secured the employment of our 100+ employees and are able to move forward with our suppliers who are also struggling at this time,” says Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group.

Financial terms of the partnership have not been disclosed but it has been revealed that the founders and senior management of the ID&T Group have become shareholders in Superstruct.

Providence Equity-backed Superstruct produces a number of major festivals across Europe including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar and the Dutch festival Zwarte Cross – the company’s first acquisition since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

ID&T’s portfolio includes Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake – all of which have been cancelled two years in a row due to restrictions.

It is also the parent company of organisations such as Q-dance, ID&T Events, B2S, Monumental (Awakenings), Art of Dance, Platinum Agency, and Headliner Entertainment.

“ID&T is a significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused festivals”

James Barton, chairman of Superstruct Entertainment: “We are very excited to join forces with ID&T, a business that I have long admired. Our partnership with ID&T is a very significant milestone for Superstruct and reflects our deep conviction in the value of experience-focused live music festivals and our excitement about the significant joint growth opportunities that lie ahead as live events return.”

The companies say the deal will provide great opportunities in sharing knowledge and creating synergies between the companies to further improve the fan experience at their festivals.

Ritty van Straalen, CEO of the ID&T Group adds: “ID&T will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2022. This partnership is an important strategic step in the development of our company, which we already embarked upon in 2019, pre-covid, and was ultimately delayed by 1.5 years.

“The past 19 months have been very tough for us and the entire event industry, but we are excited to see that Superstruct has been able to look through the current environment, recognising the combined potential of these two world-class companies.

“The international live events industry is increasingly consolidating and Superstruct has developed itself into a high quality, market-leading powerhouse in our industry. We are happy to be part of such an experienced group and strongly believe we can reinforce each other in many ways.”

 


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