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Romania’s Saga postpones as lockdown lifting nears

The inaugural edition of Insomniac- and Alda-promoted Saga festival has been postponed to September, as the Romanian government prepares to begin a staggered easing of lockdown restrictions in mid-May.

Organisers of Saga, which was originally set to debut from 5 to 7 June in Bucharest’s Izvor park, state the postponement is “the best option for Saga festival with the health and wellbeing of visitors a main priority”.

Although the line-up for the rescheduled event on 11 to 13 September “may be slightly different due to artist scheduling”, organisers assure fans the billing “will be up to [the] standards” of dance music giants Insomniac (Electric Daisy Carnival) and Alda (Amsterdam Music Festival, New Horizons).

Saga joins fellow Bucharest festival Europafest, a multi-venue jazz, blues, pop and classical music event, to change its 2020 dates in view of the coronavirus crisis. Scheduled for May, organisers say they are now planning for Europafest to take place in the second half of July, with dates depending on the evolution of the situation in Romania and at European level.

Other major festivals in Romania, including electronic music events Untold and Neversea and European Festival Awards 2019 winners Electric Castle, Jazz in the Park and ARTmania, have yet to announce changes to their 2020 editions. The government expected to give more details on the future of public events when it begins to ease its stringent lockdown laws – which have seen citizens collectively fined up to €78 million for flouting restrictions –  on 15 May.

“Large-scale events are unlikely to take place given the announced and forecasted restrictions”

Although Emil Boc, mayor of the city of Cluj-Napoca where Untold, Electric Castle and Jazz in the Park take place, has said that large-scale events are “unlikely to take place given the announced and forecasted restrictions”, he notes that “difference and diverse ways of organising these events can be found”.

Festival organisers in Romania have also found diverse and different ways of helping the fight against coronavirus in recent weeks.

Promoters in Cluj-Napoca are selling “solidarity tickets” as part of the A Single Cluj (Un Singur Cluj) campaign, which brings together event organisers and others in the region to synchronise relief efforts and pool resources. By purchasing a solidarity ticket, fans can make direct donations to hospitals and other public institutions. “Ticket” prices range from RON 10 to RON 5,000 (€1,034).

Money raised by the campaign has gone towards buying surgical masks for help workers and supplying food to frontline staff. Members of the initiative have also helped to construct emergency triage centres.

The team behind Untold festival, currently set to take place from 30 July to 2 August with acts including Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Pussycat Dolls and David Guetta, launched the United Romania initiative, which aims to “bring together the good in Romania”.

So far, the campaign has helped supply six trucks with equipment such as portable flooring, geotextile and lighting from Untold and Neversea festivals for a field hospital in the city of Constanta and has provided 12,000 tests and other medical materials to hospitals in Cluj.


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Jazz in the Park hosts second show in Cluj landfill

On Tuesday 26 June, Romanian music festival Jazz in the Park hosted, for the second year running, a mini-festival aimed at raising awareness of the plight of people forced to live in a landfill site.

The landfill for the city of Cluj-Napoca, nicknamed ‘Pata Rât’, is home to hundreds of displaced people, most of them gypsies (Roma) who were evicted from a residential area of Cluj in 2010.

Concerts at the Landfill, which featured performances by local acts Taraful lui Siminic, JazzyBit and Marius Mihalache Band, was attended by around 1,000 people, half of them residents of Pata Rât. Many others came from the city centre, on 11 free buses put on by promoter Alin Vaida.

The festival took place on day six of Jazz in the Park proper, which runs until 1 July.

“It was heartwarming to see so many people happy and dancing together”

Vaida says: “This was the second time we went down to do an event at Pata Rât. But this time it was different: The people living there were waiting for us – they knew what to expect. The vibe was incredibly positive.

“There were already a few hundred people gathered when the first concert started and by the time the headliner came on stage, we were over 1,000. At the beginning of the headline act, rain started pouring down which made the experience all the more special. Nobody wanted to leave.

“It was heartwarming to see so many people happy and dancing together. For one hour, the world was perfect in my eyes.”

Jazz in the Park, now in its sixth year, comprises free and ticketed events across Cluj, in Transylvania. This year’s headliners are Nouvelle Vague, Juan de Marcos of Buena Vista Social Club, Nik Bartsch’s Ronin and Richard Bona Group.


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