European festivals outlined the form of the 2021 festival summer
The feasibility of open-air events during the pandemic has been discussed extensively among the experts and the organizers of Pohoda, as well as the organizers of other events since March. In the spring of last year, professors Krištúfková and Štefkovičová helped to adopt a decision to postpone the festival. Since the beginning of this year, experts have been suggesting that the situation will be compatible with the organization of the festival in early summer 2021 – of course, while following many production, security, communication and hygiene measures aimed at minimizing the risk of virus spread. We have been communicating very closely with Richard Kollár and Alexandra Bražinová from the Science Helps – Covid-19 initiative, and several inspiring ideas have already emerged from the meeting. At the same time, the organizers of cultural events in Slovakia do not sit idly by waiting for the situation to improve. In January, they offered to help state authorities and local governments in order to speed up the vaccination process as much as possible through the We Wish Slovakia Good Health initiative.
10. February 2021
Vaccination of the most vulnerable segments of the population and people from critical infrastructure, increasingly accurate and faster testing options and a natural decline in respiratory diseases in summer months give culture fans hope. Other representatives of the European festivals joint in the Yourope Association, who, in cooperation with doctors, safety managers and other researchers, have prepared a manual on the feasibility of festivals in Covid times, have the same hope based on the communication with experts. Among the necessary steps are testing of attenders, reorganization and regulation of arrival and entry to the festival, increased emphasis on hygiene and sanitation, recommendation of mask wearing or reorganization of the site itself. Today, Yourope representatives are sending a press release on the prospects of the 2021 festival summer to their local authorities and media partners.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, European event organisers would host music festivals throughout the summer months, selling millions of tickets per year. This figure reflects the immense importance of the industry as part of Europe’s cultural landscape. Now the time has come to develop a strategy for 2021’s summer of events. We owe it to the millions of visitors who have trusted us enough not to return their tickets, to our many thousands of staff and contractors, to big-time and lesser-known artists, and to our suppliers to preserve the cultural diversity we have created as event organisers.
Under what circumstances can Europe’s festivals take place again under regular conditions?
2021 is not 2020. We have better treatment options and testing is becoming more and more advanced. The process of vaccination has already begun. Combine this with the fact that cases are expected to decrease considerably in the summer months, we find ourselves in a different starting situation – one that poses the following questions:
- Can festival organisers expect to be able to hold their events as normal and at full capacity, provided
- they ensure that additional protective measures are in place?
- What measures will they need to take in terms of guests, staff and suppliers?
- Will international artists be allowed to travel as needed?
Clear guidelines, coherent timeframes and reliable planning
For 2021’s summer of festivals to go ahead, we need to use February to gain as much clarity as possible we need as much clarity as possible until the end of February, get a transparent roadmap from the authorities, and develop a strategy with clearly defined parameters to ensure that we can host events safely while also operating at full capacity under our normal and, as far as possible, standardised conditions. A big event can be as safe as our day-to-day lives!
To secure the future of the festivals that have become such a great tradition across Europe, there must be access to a financial bailout if an organiser has to cancel or change the way their event takes place due to stricter anti-coronavirus measures being implemented that make carrying out the event as normal no longer economically viable. Without this bailout, planning these events becomes a forlorn hope and will grind to a halt, as our badly battered and bruised industry can no longer bear the weight of these scarcely predictable risks alongside their normal financial risks alone.
Relaxing measures with proportionality and cooperation
We call on the principle of proportionality: if the main health goals are achieved, measures should in turn be relaxed sensibly and proportionately. In order to implement concepts and measures properly, we need central points of contact with whom we can discuss the issues involved in a constructive and purposeful way. It is important to utilise the expertise of the national and international concert and festival industry.
Yourope – The European Festival Association