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Italy’s Barley Arts launches new music festival

Renowned Italian promoter Barley Arts has announced the first edition of a brand new festival centred on the idea of comfort.

The inaugural Comfort festival will take place between 3–4 September 2021 in Ferrara, northern Italy, at the Parco Urbano Bassani – an ancient hunting reserve surrounded by lakes and meadows.

The festival will comprise two stages: the Comfort stage, which will offer live music performances, and the Armonia (harmony) stage by Slow Music, which will host acoustic, literary and theatrical performances.

Comfort will invite around 4,000 attendees each day to enjoy the performances, either from the comfort of ‘the blanket area’ in front of the stage, a deckchair, table, or seat.

The line-up boasts more than 20 Italian and international acts including Lovesick Duo, Filo Graziani, The Cyborgs, Paolo Benvegnù, Matthew Lee quartet and Rinky Tinky Jazz Orchestra.

Barley Arts founder and Slow Music president Claudio Trotta – who has produced and promoted a plethora of concerts from international artists all over the world – says the idea has been years in the making.

“The ingredients are all there: the prestigious signature of Trotta, the unique area of Parco Bassani, many great acts”

Comfort festival is co-produced with Teatro Comunale di Ferrara (opera house) and sponsored by the municipality of Ferrara.

“Comfort festival is a great novelty this year and it will further enrich the large calendar of events during this summer of recovery,” says the mayor of Ferrara, Alan Fabbri.

“Parco Urbano is a new venue that will be animated by music of national and international artists, which the audience will listen to surrounded by greenery, in a large, evocative, equipped area. A unique place on which we are working to make it more usable and make it a setting for major events. We are happy to collaborate with Claudio Trotta, whose name and history are linked to international artists of the highest level.”

Council member Marco Gulinelli added: “Comfort festival has all the prerequisites to become one of the most qualifying events at a national level during this summer of recovery. The ingredients are all there: a prestigious signature like that of Claudio Trotta, the unique area of Parco Bassani, many great singers and bands on stage and a very wide offer that ranges from different musical genres to literature.”

Tickets for the festival are on sale on Ticketmaster, Ticketone and Vivaticket. A one-day ticket costs €25, a two-day pass costs €40.


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Italian industry rebukes gov over €222bn recovery

Italy’s live industry has admonished the government for failing to recognise ‘the cultural, economical and social importance’ of live music in its new recovery plan.

The ‘National Recovery and Resilience Plan’ (PNRR), totaling €222 billion, was presented to parliament on Monday (26 April) by president Mario Draghi.

Of the €222 bn, €6.7 bn has been allocated to culture with the aim to “increase the level of attractiveness of the country’s cultural and tourist system through the modernization of both tangible and intangible infrastructures”.

However, in the spending plan for culture, music venues (or theatres, as Italy prefers to call them) are only referenced once as part of a €300m bid to “promote eco-efficiency and the reduce energy consumption” in cultural venues.

Roberto De Luca, president of Live Nation Italy, told IQ: “I am very pleased about this PNRR but unfortunately, I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture, as well as an industry that has a huge economic impact on every territory where live music is happening.

“I do not find a single line regarding live music industry. This a terrible mistake as live music is a fundamental part of our culture”

“Live music has both direct and indirect effects. As an example, let’s look at what the FirenzeRocks festival means for Firenze. In 2019, it generated an economic impact of more than €40m as our audience spent between €300–500 per person on hotels, museums, restaurants and so on. Not just in Italy, summer live shows are happening in historic squares, castles, Roman and Greek amphitheaters, so I truly believe that is a driver for our own culture.”

Claudio Trotta, founder of Barley Arts and Slow Music, expressed similar disappointment to IQ: “I don’t see at all in this plan the recognition of the cultural, economical and social importance of live popular music and its industry. I don’t see any investment at all in new venues for music nor attention to professional training for the future generation.

“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism and not for the citizens and the people. Culture is important by itself, not just when it’s used to draw tourism.

“On another note, I would love to see in this full plan a real and accurate attention to the biodynamic balance and not only some generic references to a digital, ecological and green transition.”

Vincenzo Spera, president of Italy’s live music association Assomusica, tells IQ he is particularly concerned about how the measures will affect the next generation.

“According to this plan, culture is important only if connected to the benefits that it creates for tourism”

“We currently do not know if and how the €6bn envisaged by the PNRR will be allocated to the live music sector. We are therefore very worried, especially because we believe that this could be a fundamental opportunity for socio-cultural aggregation at the European level.

“Obviously this does not concern, or should not only concern Italy, but all European countries, considering that music is the tool for the greatest socialisation and aggregation among young people. It is no coincidence that there is a measure called Next Generation. By continuing in this way, however, there is a risk that future generations will not derive any benefit from the envisaged measures but rather pay the price.

“We think that there is no better opportunity than this to realize some fundamental points which, especially following the pandemic, become particularly urgent: the first point [in the spending plan] concerns technological innovation, of which we are carriers and experimenters; the second point refers, instead, to the eco-sustainability of the live entertainment system and its ability to always attract new audiences to the territories, to discover new realities and to generate ‘green economy’, helping to enhance sites that are important from the point of view historical-architectural.

“The third point concerns the possibility of finally creating premises, structures and spaces of the future, conceived as they should be today, multifunctional, interactive and synergistic between the various genres of entertainment. The time has also come to create a physical and not just a virtual platform that can allow various European cultures to circulate in different countries.”

“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions”

Fabrizio Pompeo, Radar Concerti, tells IQ: “Yes, the headline of the news is great but going deeper into it, there is no such great news for the music business as nothing is coming directly to our industry. The €6bn is going to feed a very wide range of activities and not going to the music industry.

“The government propaganda is telling everyone that Italy is slowly getting back to a sort of normality but we still have restrictions which are making impossible arranging a concert. Not only the distancing procedures but we still have a curfew on from 10 pm to 5 am.”

As of Monday (26 April), eleven of the twenty Italian regions have been permitted to reopen music venues for capped and socially distanced concerts.

The eleven regions – including Lazio, Veneto, Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna – have been dubbed ‘yellow’ under the country’s colour-coded system of coronavirus restrictions and are now allowed to partially reopen.

Venues in the yellow zone can now reopen at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people inside and 1,000 people outside – all of whom must observe one-metre social distancing. The 10 pm–5 am curfew is still in place.

 


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Claudio Trotta awarded Milan’s gold medal

Italian promoter Claudio Trotta has been officially recognised by the city of Milan for his 40-year service to music.

The Barley Arts founder and Slow Music president has been awarded the gold medal of the Ambrogino d’Oro – only one of 15 given out by the municipality each year.

The Bureau of Milan City Council which decides the winners has commended Trotta for his ongoing fight against secondary ticketing; his “visionary” to launch iconic festivals such as Sonoria and organise Italian tours with the likes of Bruce Springsteen; and his promotion of sustainability which earned Barley Arts a Greener Festival Award.

“I have become part of a list of people, who since 1946, the City of Milan recognises as having given their city everything they could for the supreme and superior good that is the community,” says Trotta.

“Seeing my courage rewarded so publicly is a powerful incentive to continue on my path”

“Now, more than ever, it is vital to share hope, passion, affection, harmony, respect and vision of the future for those who are yet to be born and for humanity as a whole. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I’ve always had the courage to act according to my visions, no matter the cost to myself.

“Seeing my courage rewarded so publicly and the reasons that supported my Ambrogino expressed vividly, is a powerful incentive to continue on my path.

“I would like to underline that a man alone can do nothing if he is not supported by a community; whether that be family, teamwork or even strangers who are kindred souls, they share in their daily lives my same priorities and struggles. Thank you everyone for this award, it represents real and heartfelt satisfaction.”

The official ceremony takes place every year on 7 December – the feast of Sant’Ambrogio, the patron saint of Milan – and the prizes are delivered by the city mayor.

 


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