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More Swiss festivals cancel “unfeasible” 2021 editions

OpenAir St.Gallen (1–4 July), Gurtenfestival (14–17 July), Zermatt Unplugged (15–25 July), Caribana Festival (16–20 July) and Thunerseespiele (14–28 August) have called it quits on their Swiss summer events for the second consecutive year.

Swiss festivals Paléo Festival Nyon, Greenfield Festival, Rock the Ring and Baloise Session have already called off their 2021 editions.

CTS Eventim’s OpenAir St.Gallen (OASG), which usually welcomes 30,000 guests each year, released a statement on Facebook saying a 2021 edition “is simply not feasible” due to the pandemic and the current ban on large events.

“The outlook for the summer has become more and more uncertain over the past few weeks and months,” reads the statement.

News of the recent cancellations comes days after the Swiss federal government announced an update to its event cancellation scheme, which seems to have left organisers and live associations more uncertain than ever about the viability of this year’s festival season.

“The outlook for the summer has become more and more uncertain over the past few weeks and months”

One of the main concerns of the Swiss Music Promoters Association (SMPA) is whether the government will provide insurance for events that can only be carried out to a limited extent.

Stefan Breitenmoser, managing director of SMPA, says: “Should the original planning be maintained or can alternative formats be worked out? There are still no framework conditions and approval criteria for both. In addition, it is unclear what compensation organisers will receive if planning continues and the event has to be cancelled later or can only be carried out to a limited extent.”

Christoph Bill, president of the SMPA, says it boils down to a fundamental question: “Do we want to preserve cultural diversity in the long term?”

“Its economic importance and its role for the wellbeing of a large population are undisputed, but politicians and authorities still do not seem to recognise the seriousness and urgency of the situation. Is there also a lack of will? Does it even come in handy when the organisers cancel on their own initiative? Doesn’t anyone want to take responsibility on the part of the authorities? Is the federal system simply not suitable for a crisis?”

The SMPA is now calling for compensation for losses of more than 100% of the actual damage incurred

The SMPA is now calling for the opening steps and framework conditions until normal operations resume to be defined in a standardised manner across Switzerland, as well as a commitment to compensation for losses of more than 100% of the actual damage incurred – “without cantonal ceilings that distort competition, and rapid, pragmatic implementation of the protective umbrella that has been agreed”.

According to the SMPA, the following Swiss festivals are under pressure to make a decision now: Stars of Sounds Aarberg / Murten, blues’n’jazz Rapperswil, Montreux Jazz Festival, Open Air Frauenfeld, Openair Etziken, Open Air Lumnezia, Unique Moments Zurich, Blue Balls Festival, Basel Tattoo, Sion sous les étoiles, Flumserberg Open Air, Summer Stage Basel and Lake Live Festival.

The association says the following Swiss festivals have until the end of April 2021 to make fundamental decisions: Stars in Town, Musikfestwochen Winterthur, Hehre Open Air, Open Air Gampel, Royal Arena Festival, SummerDays Festival, Seaside Festival and JazzNoJazz.


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