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Amsterdam festivals fear bankruptcy over new policy

Amsterdam festival organisers have launched a campaign against the city’s new permit policy which they say could lead to bankruptcies.

Set to come into effect in 2026, the new policy aims to give new and smaller events a better chance of getting scarce festival locations in order to ‘better meet the needs of all Amsterdam residents’.

However, a test run is being planned for next year as locations for events will be scarcer than normal due to Amsterdam’s 750th-anniversary celebrations and the return of Dutch boat festival Sail.

In order to distribute the places more fairly, events councillor Touria Meliani wants to set up a committee that will determine who gets a place based on substantive criteria. By the end of this year, festivals would know whether they have a place on next year’s calendar.

Festivals including DGTL, Amsterdam Open Air, De Zon, Loveland and Zeezout have hit back, saying the approach is “too late” and “unworkable” for both new and established festivals.

“You cannot organise a safe and successful festival in six months,” the organisers wrote in a full-page advertisement addressed to the municipality and published in Het Parool last week.

“Organisers that do not obtain a permit will go bankrupt”

“Organisers who are given a place cannot organise their event properly. Many costs have already been incurred for the longer-running major festivals. Organisers that do not obtain a permit will go bankrupt.”

The organisers are calling for the 2024 events calendar to be replicated for 2025 so that “everyone knows where they stand and new initiatives can flourish”.

In addition, organisers have resurrected the action group Unmute Us, which was founded during Covid-19 to organise protests and campaigns against government policy and draw attention to the needs of the Dutch live music sector.

The group has launched a petition against the new policy, which has been signed by 13,900 people at the time of writing.

“The Amsterdam municipal council wrongly states that there are too many applications for too few locations and does not take into account the position that certain festivals have had in the city for years,” reads the petition. “This creates enormous uncertainty for all festivals, which could have disastrous consequences for many.”

Meanwhile, the wider Dutch industry is calling on the government to reconsider its plans to raise the VAT rate for concert and festival tickets by 12 percentage points.

The increase from 9% to 21%, which is set to come into effect from 2026, was announced last week in the new coalition agreement between the PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB parties.


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