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EAA adds arenas in Poland and the UK to membership

The European Arenas Association (EAA) is welcoming two new venues, taking the total membership to 36 arenas across 20 European countries.

Arena Gliwice, one of the largest and most modern sports and entertainment venues in Poland, has joined the association.

The Gliwice-based arena (cap. 17,000) opened in May 2018 and has since hosted more than 460 events in the region.

The purpose-built arena comprises two separate venues, Arena Glowna and Mala Arena, which each boast “cutting edge technology”.

According to newly elected EAA president Olivier Toth, Eastern European members now total almost 20% of the total membership.

ASM Global’s AO Arena in Manchester, UK, is also joining the membership.

At 21,000-capacity, the AO Arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the UK

At 21,000-capacity, the arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the UK and the second-highest in Europe.

Toth says the arena will bring “extensive know-how and experience” to the association.

“Also we are looking forward to following their progress as they transform into one of Europe’s most sustainable venues as a result of their current development plans,” he added.

James Allen, GM, AO Arena Manchester, says: “The long period of separation during the global pandemic has highlighted the necessity of collaboration in a supportive manner across Europe, which the EAA champions.

“Our new headline sponsor, AO has strong links with mainland Europe so it is only right that their arena does too. It is a privilege to have our membership application accepted and we look forward to being active members.”

The addition of Arena Gliwice and AO Arena Manchester comes after Spain’s Navarra Arena joined the association last month.

 


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Poland’s Open’er reveals blockbuster acts for 2022

Open’er, Poland’s largest annual music festival, has announced a slate of global stars for next year’s edition.

Dua Lipa, Martin Garrix, Jessie Ware, Jehnny Beth, Sons Of Kemet, Moses Sumney, Pillow Queens and Cigarettes After Sex have today (29 September) been announced for the 2022 event, scheduled for 29 June–2 July at Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport.

They join previously announced artists Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots, The Chemical Brothers, Michael Kiwanuka, BadBadNotGood, and Inhaler.

Next year’s event marks the 20th anniversary of Open’er, as well as the return of the annual festival after two cancellations

Next year’s event marks the 20th anniversary of Open’er, as well as the return of the annual festival after two consecutive cancellations due to Covid-19 restrictions.

In the absence of the flagship festival, the organisers hosted two alternative events, Open’er Park and Open’er BeachHouse.

Open’er Park took place in Kolibki Park, Gdynia, across six weeks and featured 23 concert days, attended by more than 75,000 people.

According to the organisers, Open’er Park was the longest-running festival in Poland during 2021 and attracted the most festival-goers.


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Fest Festival welcomes 35,000 for Poland’s biggest event

Fest Festival welcomed 35,000 festivalgoers over four days for this year’s edition, making it the biggest event in Poland in 2021.

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, the festival returned at full capacity with its second edition, boasting a slate of domestic and international artists.

Kygo, James Bay, Alan Walker, Aurora, Paul Kalkbrenner, Princess Nokia, Tommy Cash, Kensington, Sohn and over 200 others performed across the festival’s 11 stages.

According to promoters, Follow the Step, attendees also came from all over the world to attend the multi-genre festival in Park Śląski, Chorzów, between 11–14 August.

“It was the most difficult two years in our career so far”

This year, according to government regulations, only people vaccinated against Covid-19 were permitted to attend the festival, despite Follow the Step’s efforts to open the gates for others.

“It was the most difficult two years in our career so far but thanks to the hard work of our team and cooperation with agents, managers and media we were able to make this incredible event,” says Maciej Korczak, co-owner of the Fest Festival.

“We would like to thank all the festival attendees for their presence and trust. We are happy and deeply touched by the fact that despite the prevailing situation, we managed to organise the largest festival in Poland. We can’t wait for next year when we will be able to meet again in Park Śląski and experience the third edition of the Fest Festival together. See you on August 10–13, 2022.”

Major international festival, Pol’and’Rock, also returned with an in-person event this summer, heralding a new normal for Poland’s live music industry.

 


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Pol’and’Rock triumphs over “huge logistical undertaking”

Pol’and’Rock says it has “introduced a blueprint for holding events in the new normal,” following the successful 27th edition of the Polish festival.

The festival, which took place exclusively online last year, made its in-person return between 29–31 July at a brand new location, Makowice airfield.

Typically, Pol’and’Rock attracts an audience of almost half a million people each year but this year organisers were forced to whittle down the attendance to 20,000 domestic and international visitors.

Despite the festival’s reduced size, organisers said this year’s edition required a “massive logistical undertaking” due to on-site testing procedures for staff, artists and participants.

According to organisers, Pol’and’Rock were the only event in Poland that introduced the additional Covid-19 safety measure of rapid testing in addition to the requirement of vaccination certificates, which Poland has been quick to implement.

“It seems that our festival played an important role in promoting vaccination among the young people”

Tests were charged to participants at a cost of 49 Polish zlotys, the equivalent of a little more than €10. Otherwise, the festival remained free.

“We have not yet witnessed any increase in infections following the event,” says Pol’and’Rock’s Olga Zawada. “Even though we were faced with a wave of criticism from organized groups of anti-vaxxer trolls, it seems that our festival played an important role in promoting vaccination among the young people, who otherwise were reluctant to look into it.”

Other Covid-19 safety measures included the requirement of masks during concerts and, for the first time, the event was ticketed in order to control the flow of visitors.

Fans who couldn’t attend in person were able to watch the festival online for free.

The festival – also known as the ‘Woodstock of Poland’ – featured performances from international artists, as well as talks and workshops from social activists, artists, media personalities, sportspeople and NGOs.

 


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Pride & prejudice: Promoting behind enemy lines

Palestinian artist Bashar Murad is used to risking his life to perform. As a queer Arab and a resident of East Jerusalem, Murad has learned to live with oppression and the threat of violence, both onstage and on his doorstep. Neither, however, has deterred him from openly addressing loaded issues such as the Israeli occupation and LGBTIQ+ rights in the Middle East. “But the more vocal I become about these issues, the greater the danger is,” he tells IQ.

In 2019, Murad took one of his most daring steps when he performed in a wedding dress at an event in Ramallah, a Palestinian city located in the central West Bank. While the West Bank’s biggest draw for promoters is that it’s the only place where Palestinians from both sides of the barrier can meet, Murad says that the mixed demographic is also where the danger lies.

“Probably the biggest risk is if someone in the audience doesn’t like what I’m doing. Audience members could be from anywhere, from all over the country. There are different kinds of mentalities, people who are extremely open-minded but also people who are uneducated and attached to the traditions and the customs that we are taught in this quite patriarchal society,” he says.

Murad explains that each city in the Palestinian territories has different variations of laws relating to queer people. Jerusalem, where he lives, is under Israeli law but the West Bank is under Israeli military law as well as Palestinian civil law, which presents varying degrees of discrimination and legal challenges for queer people. To make matters more complicated, Murad says, some of the laws aren’t representative of the reality on the ground.

This minefield of laws across the territory means Murad is forced to make a risk assessment before booking a gig. While agents and promoters in liberal nations may book shows based on venue capacities, fees and convenience, Murad has to weigh up how dangerous each city is, the make-up of the audience, and how provocative his show should be. However, Murad has found refuge within the realms of the music industry, “the safe place,” having built relationships and established trust with promoters and record executives.

The international showcase at which Murad performed in the wedding dress, the Palestine Music Expo (PMX), is one such stronghold. Though Murad would not generally view Ramallah as 100% safe for queer artists like himself, PMX is something of a haven “free of oppression, for all human beings.”

PMX co-founder Rami Younis has been something of an outspoken ally for oppressed artists and is eager to give queer artists like Murad “a free and fair platform to do the show they want.” When IQ asks what he thought of Murad’s 2019 performance, Younis says: “I absolutely loved it. In general, we encourage our artists to be as creative and free as they can and to not be afraid to experiment. Murad’s show was a big success and a great example for that.”

Murad says he depends on support from alternative organisations like PMX, as the culture ministries are “too scared” to back queer artists like himself – though his talent has been verified by international press including CBC, The Guardian and the BBC. “They don’t show any support towards me because they’re worried about me being gay,” he says. “They fund music videos and productions for artists who have taken part in competitions like Arab Idol but forget about other artists who are carving their own paths and doing things their own way.”

Not only has PMX provided Murad with a safe space in which to deliver his most thought-provoking show, it has also given him a rare gateway to the international live music business and a world outside of conflict-ridden Palestine.

But establishing a platform like this, which has invited 150+ international music industry professionals each year since 2017, is no mean feat in a state where promoters, agents – and even performance venues are few and far between. “People must understand that we never had a chance to develop a proper industry simply because we never had the proper infrastructure,” says Younis. “Developing art industries organically in war zones is near impossible. So, what we do is push back against that and lay foundations for a proper and healthy infrastructure in the future.”

While agents and promoters in liberal nations may book shows based on venue capacities, fees and convenience, Murad has to weigh up how dangerous each city is

From the ground up
“I can’t believe that any queer person who is living in Poland and looking at the news doesn’t feel personally attacked,” says Kajetan Łukomski, a queer Polish artist, promoter and Keychange ambassador who goes by the name of Avtomat.

Poland is one of just a handful of countries in Europe that is yet to legalise same-sex marriage, and already bans same-sex couples from adopting children. As of June 2020, some 100 municipalities, encompassing around one-third of the majority Catholic country, have adopted resolutions declaring themselves “LGBT ideology-free.”

In a campaign speech when he stood for re-election, President Andrzej Duda called the promotion of LGBT rights an ideology “even more destructive” than communism. Elsewhere, the Archbishop of Kraków recently warned of a neo-Marxist “rainbow plague.”

“We just don’t feel safe in our own country anymore,” says Łukomski. “I started carrying tear gas with me on the street, and every time I go out with my boyfriend and we hold hands, we have to keep looking over our shoulder because there have been occurrences of queer people getting knifed in the street. This is why we need to work so hard to change the status quo.”

According to Łukomski, a shift in paradigm is also needed in the mainstream music scene, which has eschewed queer artists like himself. This segregation has forced queer artists to adopt a do-it-yourself mentality and promote their own shows and establish their own performance spaces. Back in 2017, Łukomski co-founded the Warsaw-based Oramics collective, which acts as a promoter, in a bid to “level the playing field for under- represented groups.”

“No one had really thought of that. All of the line-ups were male and there was no real push towards making women and queer people and so on visible in the scene, so it had to happen as a grassroots movement,” he says. “We’ve had to carve out our own space in the music industry.” Developing their own queer underground scene has also been a means of protecting the artists and fans within it because, like Murad in Palestine, Łukomski has to be selective about where he performs.

“It would be easy to go ‘I’m playing in this huge prestigious club’ but then my community may be in greater danger of, say, harassment. I make it a point to play in spaces that I deem safe for my community,” he says. Łukomski says that as Oramics’ reputation has grown, they have had greater bargaining power to talk to clubs about their safe-space policies and line-up balances. The collective has even brought workshops to smaller, less tolerant cities to show queer people how to organise their own spaces – though Łukomski says they had to organise their own security for these visits.

While the queer community in Poland may be safer existing on the fringes, their exclusion from mainstream culture creates a glass ceiling for artists, which prevents them from performing at larger capacity venues, earning bigger fees or securing representation. On a broader scale, if queer people and creatives aren’t able to assimilate with the rest of society, the oppression will likely perpetuate.

Warsaw-based promoter Follow The Step (FTS), however, is sensing some progression in the acceptance of queer people, which is allowing them to expand their portfolio of queer artists. Next year, the company will promote its first-ever show by a queer artist – American drag star Sasha Velour at Warsaw’s Palladium (1,500-cap.) – which FTS’s Tamara Przystasz says has been a long time coming. “We’ve been trying very hard to promote queer artists, but a lot of agents were saying Poland is not ready for it. But finally, people are much more open-minded than they were before,” says Przystasz. “To do something for the first time, after so many hard months, was a huge risk, but we thought let’s just do it, and it’s going well already. We didn’t expect such amazing feedback,” she adds.

Przystasz says FTS are keen to use Warsaw as a litmus test before promoting queer artists in more rural cities. “We are so lucky because we are living in Warsaw and it always works differently with capital cities, but in the smaller cities, it is hard; we have to fight for their rights. Education via music; I think that is the best option for us.”

Kostrzyn-based festival Pol’and’Rock, which has been running for more than 25 years and typically attracts an audience of almost half a million people, has had a little more time to establish a portfolio of queer artists, and hopes to lead by example. Originally inspired by Woodstock, the community- based festival deems itself an outlier in creating a refuge within the country’s conservative society.

Over the past three decades, the festival has played host to performances by queer artists such as Skunk Anansie and Polish children’s artist Majka Je owska, as well as Polish singers Ralph Kaminski and Krzysztof Zalewski – some of which have incorporated demonstrations for queer rights into their shows.

“We want to show Poland as an open place, a place where people can be themselves, which becomes more and more difficult each year,” says Olga Zawada from Pol’and’Rock. Zawada says that the festival has encountered many challenges since the recent government came into power, including reportedly being saddled with “high-risk” status four times since 2016.

The high-risk label, according to Polish law, applies to events where acts of violence or public disorder are expected to take place, though Pol’and’Rock has never encountered anything of the sort. Zawada believes that this is the government’s way of indirectly jeopardising the festival: “I don’t want to speculate on the government’s motivations, but we’re quite unpopular with the very conservative ruling party.”

The high-risk status means that Pol’and’Rock has been required to introduce different safety measures such as a fence around the perimeter, which Zawada says tarnished the festival’s aesthetic as a free and open festival and proved to be a “massive expense.” Does she think that the government was taking aim at the festival’s Achilles heel – its budget? “Yes. The fence was the biggest thing in our budget and from a crowd management point of view it was completely pointless. But the guests respected the fences and even used them creatively, to dry their laundry and things,” she says.

“We want to show Poland as an open place, a place where people can be themselves, which becomes more and more difficult each year”

Against all odds
“Turkey is a place where two times two doesn’t make four,” says queer senior talent buyer Bura Davaslıgil of Istanbul-based booking agency/promoter Charmenko. “On paper, it hasn’t been illegal to be homosexual since 1858, the Ottoman Empire, but it’s still a taboo.”

Taboo is a light way of putting it. Hate speech, violence, and discrimination have already put Turkey second to last on the advocacy group ILGA-Europe’s ranking of LGBTQ equality – no surprise considering that there is no solid law against discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. Gay Pride has been banned in Istanbul for several years, on pretexts of public order. “Even if a municipality is pro-LGBTQ rights and they want to, say, put on a festival, they wouldn’t dare to do it because of the current political climate,” says Davaslıgil.

According to Davaslıgil, the conservative party, which has been in power for the last two decades, tends to “look the other way” about queer culture, as long as it’s kept relatively quiet. “The discrimination against queer people is not systematic. If Morrissey, Pet Shop Boys or Elton John performed, it wouldn’t be a problem; if an artist’s queerness is not too overt then it’s fine.”

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC), however, was one artist the government could not ignore. In 2015, the Chorus found themselves at the centre of a political storm ahead of their concert at Zorlu Performing Arts Center in Istanbul. Conservative Islamist papers described the group as “perverts” and thousands of people signed a Change.org petition calling on Zorlu’s owners to cancel the show because it would take place on the tenth day of Ramadan. The venue, reportedly owned by a close confidant to Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, at the time, was running for re-election and campaigning to get the conservative vote, had reportedly asked the chorus to take the “Gay” out of their name but the group refused. “We weren’t going to let prejudice win… visibility saves lives,” says Craig Coogan, executive director of the BGMC, adding that the group has had the same name since 1982.

The government withdrew their previously issued permit allowing BGMC to perform at Zorlu and no other government agency would issue one. In an admirable display of allyship, the LGBTQ student group at Bosphorus University – a privately held institution, which didn’t need a permit for performances – stepped in and offered the Chorus their outdoor space. In order to keep the group safe, the buses were unidentifiable and the routes that each bus took to the same destinations were varied. Members were encouraged to be cautious on social media, not posting location information in real-time. According to Coogan, the group even collaborated with the US secret service on security issues, and a diplomatic note was sent to the government underlining the importance of the group’s safety to US relations. On the day of the concert, sharp-shooters were stationed around the area, drones surveyed the crowd, and audience members had to go through airport-style security to get into the concert.

The media frenzy, the political tension, and the logistical rigmarole would’ve been enough to discourage any artist from going ahead with the concert but the group found allies in the most unexpected of places. According to Coogan, The Nederlander Organization, which manages Zorlu, were “mortified” that political considerations forced them to cancel their contract. “In fact, to prevent an expensive lawsuit, they paid for the production costs at Bosphorus,” says Coogan. It was not difficult to find supportive professionals to work with. The issues we ran into were political, not with the professionals.”

BGMC hasn’t returned to Turkey since 2015 – the group has been busy touring elsewhere, including other anti-gay territories such as Poland, the Middle East and South Africa. But IQ wonders: could an incident like the one with the Chorus happen in 2021? “As long as this government stays in power, yes,” says Davaslıgil. And would Charmenko ever book BGMC, in spite of all the political and logistical issues? “I wouldn’t think twice,” he answers, underscoring the importance of allyship in the industry.

“Everywhere that we perform is an opportunity to dismantle prejudice and preconceptions about LGBTQ people”

Music as an act of resistance
Queer artists like Murad, Łukomski and the BGMC put their safety on the line again and again to perform in anti-gay countries, but what’s the pay-off?

“Everywhere that we perform is an opportunity to dismantle prejudice and preconceptions about LGBTQ people,” says BGMC’s Coogan. “Live music as a social activism tool works. It did in Istanbul, as it did in so many other cities around the world. I saw the joy and transformation on the faces of thousands of locals. “Music builds bridges, enhances communication, breaks down stereotypes and humanises the ‘other’ in powerful ways. It has the power to transcend boundaries and create connections among people from different backgrounds, languages, and beliefs, and has long been a central part of social justice movements.”

In all three stories, the live music industry has proved itself to be the antithesis of the political wars waging outside of it, thanks to real allyship from promoters and festivals like PMX, Follow the Step, Pol’and’Rock and Charmenko. But what they want, quite simply, is for their respective countries to be recognised for the budding talent, not the conflict. “I want people to know that Palestine isn’t just war, apartheid, and occupation; it’s also music, cinema, art; it’s life,” says PMX co-founder Younis. “There are actual people living here with hopes, dreams, and culture. There’s talent in Palestine and it is just waiting to be discovered. We don’t want to be seen as victims but as equal people who deserve to have their culture and music represented everywhere.”

Pol’and’Rock’s Zawada has a similar message for the international live music industry: “Poland is more than politics and oppression.

It’s important for us to say: ‘You know what? There is this community of people that has a different opinion. There are people who are tolerant and welcoming and accepting, and they would have your back, and everyone else’s.”

 


Read this article in its original format in the digital edition of IQ 101:

 


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10k people attend Poland’s biggest show since 2020

Last weekend, German DJ Boris Brejcha played the biggest concert Poland has seen since the outbreak of Covid at the beginning of 2020.

Ten thousand fans gathered in Poland’s largest and best-preserved fortress, in Modlin, located northwest of Warsaw, last Friday (25 June) to enjoy Brejcha’s set.

According to the promoters, Follow the Step, the enormous structure (pictured) was created by specialists especially for the event and was months in the making.

“This was the first production of this type in this part of Europe and thanks to the huge amount of technology, lights and the latest generation sound system, provided an amazing experience,” according to a press release.

Entry was restricted to doubly vaccinated residents, as per government guidelines, all of whom were required to show proof of vaccination.

“Finally after one and a half years we could put our plans into action and get back to organising events on the big scale,” Follow the Step’s Tamara Przystasz tells IQ.

“Not only was it quite a challenge organising it in such a way that will comply with all the new rules and restrictions, but it was also the first event that we could organise for vaccinated people only. However, it was amazing to see 10,000 people celebrating the comeback of music events.”

Maciej Korczak, owner of FTS, added: “The Boris Brejcha show was a huge step forward not only for our company but also for the whole event and music industry in our country. We like to pave the way here as we believe that nothing is impossible.”

“It quite a challenge organising it in such a way that will comply with all the new rules and restrictions”

“The show was just a warm-up for us before Fest Festival this summer which will take place on the 11-14 of August in Chorzów. But after what we managed to do with Boris show we are now sure that we are able to organise Fest Festival this summer for 40,000 people safely.”

Earlier this month, Follow the Step was given permission to hold multi-genre event Fest Festival without any capacity limits, provided that attendees have had their Covid-19 vaccinations.

During a press conference, the Polish minister of health confirmed the information that people vaccinated against Covid-19 do not count towards the established limits applicable during mass events.

The event is scheduled to happen 11–14 August in Chorzów and organisers have so far confirmed acts such as Kygo, James Bay, Rag’n’Bone Man and Alan Walker on the bill.

Alongside Poland, mega concerts with 10,000 people or more have recently returned to China, the US and Israel, while France, Belgiumthe Netherlands, DenmarkAustria and the UK have set a date this summer for the resumption of large, non-socially distanced shows.

 


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Łódź venues announce senior management team

Slawomir Worach has been named as the new chairman of Makis, which operates both the 18,000-capacity Widzew Stadium and the 14,000-cap. Atlas Arena, in Łódź, Poland. He replaces 11-year veteran Krzysztof Maciaszczyk.

The management shake-up will also see well-known promoter Łukasz Minta take on the newly created role of executive manager at Makis, giving him responsibility for business relationships with new and current promoters.

Minta successfully ran his own company, Go Ahead, which was purchased by Live Nation in 2019. He had been working for Live Nation prior to the Makis appointment.

As one of Poland’s biggest venues, Atlas Arena is well established on the European tour circuit. Among the confirmed artists on the arena’s calendar are Enrique Iglesias, Simply Red, Hans Zimmer, James Blunt, Kiss and Céline Dion.

 


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Fest gets green light for full-capacity festival

Poland’s Fest Festival has been given permission to go ahead as planned, without any capacity limits, provided that attendees have had their Covid-19 vaccinations.

The event, which is scheduled to happen 11–14 August in Chorzów, has been told it can go ahead after the Polish government announced an easing of certain pandemic restrictions.

During a press conference last week, the Polish minister of health confirmed the information that people vaccinated against Covid-19 do not count towards the established limits applicable during mass events.

“We are leading conversations to extend the current restrictions so that festivalgoers who own a European certificate can also enjoy this year’s edition”

Fest Festival launched in 2019 as a multi-genre event and enjoyed a successful debut when more than 30,000 people attended the gathering. The 2021 edition has been extended to four days and organisers have so far confirmed acts such as Kygo, James Bay, Rag’n’Bone Man and Alan Walker on the bill.

However, Follow the Step Agency has pledged to try to open the gates for others. “As per today, the festival can only be held for vaccinated people,” says Fest’s promoter.

“Considering the fact that it’s not a perfect solution, [we] are leading conversations […] to extend the current restrictions so that festivalgoers who own a valid European certificate – available for free for [Covid] convalescents, people tested and vaccinated with the first dose – can also enjoy this year’s edition of Fest Festival.”

 


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Poland’s Open’er festival cancelled again

Open’er, Poland’s largest annual music festival, has been cancelled for the second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the organisers wrote: “This is a difficult moment for us. Another one in the midst of the pandemic. Over the last few months we have fought and done so much to make this year’s edition of the Open’er Festival possible. Although we are convinced that the return of the festival world is very close, we are losing this race against time.

“The process of recovering from the pandemic is progressing, vaccinations are ongoing, but unfortunately for obvious reasons, both local and international, the lack of a plan for the coming months and the restrictions in force – the beginning of July in Poland is not yet the time when we will be able to organize Open’er Festival in the scale and form you expect.”

Kendrick Lamar, Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky would have headlined this year’s event at Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport in Gdynia between 30 June and 3 July.

“Although we are convinced that the return of the festival world is very close, we are losing this race against time”

Twenty One Pilots, however, have already been announced for next year’s 20th-anniversary edition.

Michael Kiwanuka, Destroyer, Badbadnotgood and Seasick Steve have also been confirmed for Open’er 2022, set to take place between 29 June and 2 July.

In the meantime, Open’er is planning a new event that will take place in Gdynia and span several weeks. The organisers say they will reveal more details in the coming weeks.

The cancellation of Open’er follows that of multi-venue festival World Wide Warsaw and electronic festival Undercity, both of which are promoted by Follow the Step.

At the time of writing, Fest Festival, Pol ‘and’ Rock and Wisloujscie are still set to go ahead.

 


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Polish festivals go ‘full steam ahead’ for 2021

Polish festivals Fest Festival and Pol’and’Rock are determined to do whatever it takes to pull off their respective 2021 events – each of which is slated to feature a raft of international artists.

Follow The Step-promoted Fest Festival has revealed the first wave of artists for its August event, which is almost exclusively non-domestic acts such as Norwegian DJ Kygo, Australian act Fisher and French duo Ofenbach.

The event, which made its debut in 2019, is set to take place in Silesian Park, Chorzów, between 11–14 August, after the organisers added an extra day.

“During this year’s edition, we will develop solutions that will allow the festival to be organised in safe conditions. We plan, among other things, to significantly enlarge the festival area and reduce the number of tickets available for sale. We observe the situation and we will adapt our plans to the current sanitary restrictions on an ongoing basis,” says a representative from Fest Festival.

“We will adapt our plans to the current sanitary restrictions on an ongoing basis”

Tickets for Fest Festival start at PLN 229 for a one-day pass. All 2020 ticket holders will be automatically upgraded to a four-day pass for the 2021 event.

Elsewhere, Pol’and’Rock – also known as the ‘Woodstock of Poland’ – recently announced a number of international artists for the July 2021 event including US heavy metal band Static-X, British metalcore outfit While She Sleeps and Ukrainian act Jinjer.

The annual festival is slated for 29–31 July this year in Kostrzyn nad Odrą, western Poland, and is free to attend.

According to organisers, Pol’and’Rock typically attracts an audience of almost half a million people each year and is the biggest non-commercial festival in Europe.

“Just like last year, we are powering on, full steam ahead,” says Jurek Owsiak, promoter of Pol’and’Rock Festival. “We’re wiser, more experienced now, so we are doing our best to prepare for these three days when we can meet at the festival.

“We are faced with an enormous logistical challenge, but even the grandest undertaking can be successful despite the current global situation. We are working off different scenarios, which we tweak to suit the pandemics’ global developments and progress.

“We are working off different scenarios, which we tweak to suit the pandemics’ global developments”

“Vaccination and the fact that we all agree to follow restrictions, which are there to protect us and limit the spread of the virus, taught us to be disciplined and responsible for ourselves and others. A huge group of people will do whatever it takes to be a part of our festival, agreeing to follow all rules and regulations, which are meant to make it a safe space for everyone.”

In January, Poland confirmed it will issue its citizens with a vaccine certificate, or ‘passport’, when they have been immunised against Covid-19, which could eventually be used to facilitate Covid-safe events.

According to the Reuters Covid-19 tracker, Poland has administered at least 4,605,929 doses of Covid vaccines so far (assuming every person needs two doses), which is about 6.1% of the country’s population.

However, Covid-19 infections are increasing in Poland, with 18,380 new infections reported on average each day, which is 72% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on November 11.

While venues have been permitted to open at 50% capacity, live performances will now be suspended from 20 March until 9 April, according to Pearle.

 


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