Festival Season 2017/2018

21. Sept. 2017 @ Schmidt Theater (Saal)

Speaker: Melvin Benn (Managing Director, Festival Republic, United Kingdom), Signe Lopdrup (CEO, Foreningen Roskilde Festival, Denmark), Stephan Thanscheidt (Managing Director / Head of Festivalbooking, FKP Scorpio, Germany), Codruta Vulcu (CEO, ARTmania, Romania)

Moderator: Greg Parmley (Managing Director, ILMC - IQ Magazine, United Kingdom)

Go to the programme here.

Fear around terror attacks and press surrounding the rise of reported sexual assaults at festivals were the main issues on the agenda at this year’s Festival Season discussion at Reeperbahn. As a result, panellists reported that security is tighter than ever before. So how are the audience dealing with stricter searches?

Stephan Thanscheidt, who is MD of German promoter FKP Scorpio, said that the perception of security is changing. “Security checks on our events this summer were way higher than ever before. But people really wanted it, we even had a few complaints from those that said they weren’t checked thoroughly enough.” Mikołaj Ziółkowski of Poland promoter Alter Art said that thanks to a high security system already in place for his events, they haven’t needed to change much. However, pressure from the media has resulted in extra PR to explain the safety measures they use, while some artists demanded further security measures like extra dog checks on stage that were unnecessary. “I think we should share more experiences about how to make festivals feel safer,” he added.

Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn helped organise the One Love Concert in Manchester that was arranged to pay tribute to those affected by the attack at Manchester Arena during Ariana Grande’s concert. The project, which came together in ten days, was a statement of resilience, he said. “We are not going away, we are not going to be beaten, we are willing to stand our ground and maintain our culture, which is going to concerts, festivals and events.”
When it comes to market saturation, Thanscheidt said that while there’s no more room for straightforward festivals, those with new ideas and concepts could still have luck. Aside from competition for ticket buyers, the biggest challenge for existing events is rising fees for headline acts, he added.

In terms of sexual assaults, panellists agreed that doing their best to protect attendees, as well as brand perception, is a big priority. FKP Scorpio introduced a system for anyone feeling unsafe at their events this summer, where festival-goers could ask officials a coded question, Which way to Panama, in order to receive help without having to make it publicly known. Ziółkowski concluded: “Our biggest job is to talk about it. Most of our audience is women, so we have to kick it out of festivals and find a way to make our events safer for everyone.”

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