The New Bosses: Virág Csiszár, Sziget Cultural Management
The New Bosses 2020 – the latest edition of IQ’s annual celebration of the brightest young talent in the live business today, as voted for by their peers – was published in IQ 93 this month, revealing the 12 promising promoters, bookers, agents, and A&R and production experts that make up this year’s list.
To get to know this year’s cream of the crop a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2020’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success. Catch up on the previous New Bosses interview with Madie Cavilla, a senior account manager at Paradigm Talent in the UK here.
The next New Boss in the spotlight is Virág Csiszár (30), international booking manager at Sziget Cultural Management (SCM) in Hungary. Having finished her university studies, Csiszár joined SCM, which organises Hungary’s leading music festivals such as Sziget, VOLT, Balaton Sound, Strand Festival and many other events. She is involved in more than 150 shows every year, primarily through the festivals and headline gigs at Akvárium Klub in Budapest. In 2019, she received the highest state award for young talent in tourism from the Hungarian government.
What are you working on right now?
Booking the artists for the 2021 editions of our festivals
What are some of the highlights of your career to date?
I will always be proud that I worked on the first Hungarian festival appearances of Foo Fighters and Depeche Mode, and the first-ever Hungarian shows of Linkin Park, Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Shawn Mendes. Bringing artists to our country and introducing them to the Hungarian audience is an important mission for me.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in live music?
Accepting the fact that we can’t prepare for unforeseen incidents – neither in the booking process nor at the festival site. No matter how prepared we are, there will be things we can’t control and we have to find solutions that hurt the least.
“Bringing artists to our country and introducing them to the Hungarian audience is an important mission for me”
Did you always want to work in festivals?
I grew up in a family of artists. I remember when I was about five years old, my parents took me to see the stadium shows of Michael Jackson and Rolling Stones in Budapest. I’m lucky to be able to work in an industry that I’ve loved from a very young age.
What’s it like working in the Hungarian market?
Although we are a small market, Sziget is one of the biggest and most famous festivals in Europe with thousands of visitors coming from all around the world. I was born and raised in Budapest, showing my beautiful capital to so many great people through the festival is an incredible experience.
What impact has Covid-19 has on your job?
We needed to cancel all our events in 2020 which is something that never happened before in the history of our festivals. It was extremely sad to let go of all the shows we’ve been working on tirelessly for months but at the same time, we started to work on our line ups for the summer of 2021, hoping that we are going to be over the virus situation by then.
“No matter how prepared we are, there will be things we can’t control and we have to find solutions”
Do you have a mentor in the industry?
A few years ago, I lost an amazing mentor, colleague and friend, Dan Panaitescu, who was the international booking manager of our company. I never felt ready to take over such an important and responsible role, but I feel privileged having the support of all these amazing people around me every day.
What advice would you give to someone who’s new to the business?
Let yourself enough rest to be able to stay creative and curious about new things.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a festival booker?
Coping with constantly growing artist fees; finding a solution for a billing on our poster that all our headliners are happy with; and, on the human side, finding the right balance between private life and work.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I’m a “live in the moment” type of person, so I can’t even plan that far ahead.
Sziget 2020 cancelled as Hungary extends events ban
Sziget, one of Europe’s largest and popular music festivals, will not take place in 2020, promoters have announced, as Hungary extends its ban on large-scale events until mid-August.
In a press conference this morning (30 April), Gergely Gulyás, Hungarian head of the prime minister’s office, announced that while some restrictions will be eased beginning the week of 4 May, events larger than 500 people are off limits until 15 August to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Both Sziget, the seven-day, 90,000-capacity Budapest event, and its sister festival, Balaton Sound on Lake Balaton, are affected by ban, with both festivals postponed until 2021, says Superstruct-backed organiser Sziget Cultural Management.
“Sziget has always been special because of the atmosphere that you, our Szitizens, create, and we are devastated that we won’t be able to see you on the Island of Freedom [in Budapest] this summer,” reads a statement announcing Sziget’s cancellation.
“Sharing an unforgettable week with you is what keeps us going throughout the year, and while our whole team has been working very hard on preparing for the festival your Sziget adventure will now have to wait until 2021.
“We are devastated that we won’t be able to see you on the Island of Freedom this summer”
“As hard as it is, we believe that this decision best serves the safety of all of you and everyone working at our festival.”
Sziget 2020, scheduled for 5–11 August, would have featured performances from Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, the Strokes, Asap Rocky, Major Lazy, Stormzy and more.
Hungary is the latest European country to have put the brakes on large music festivals this summer, following the Netherlands, where large events are banned until 1 September; Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Denmark, where a ban is in place until 31 August; and Luxembourg and Finland, which have prohibited mass gatherings until 31 July. France, meanwhile, has given mid-July as the earliest date when events could go ahead, while Austria has identified the end of June.
Among the other Hungarian festivals set to cancel are Colorado Festival (Nagykovácsi), Fishing on Orfű (Orfű) and Volt Festival (Sopron) in June, and Rock Marathon (Dunaújváros), Campus Festival (Debrecen), Bánkitó Festival (Bánk), Valley of Arts (Kapolcs), FEZEN (Székesfehérvár) and EFOTT (Lake Velence) in July, reports Hungary Today.