After a summer spent without being able to organize anything involving music, Dutch have decided to take matters into their own hands and say enough to the numerous uncertainties about the future of events in the country. In this regard, in fact, two peaceful protest marches were held (respectively on August 21 and September 11) in various Dutch cities to ask the government for safe festivals and in full compliance with anti-covid regulations. What the Dutch are asking now is to be able to allow more than 100,000 professionals to resume their duties, return to create moments of sharing and union between people, making sure that everyone expresses themselves in a totally free way through music. In fact, it’s not just about income and tourism but a sector that allows young people from all over the world to have fun and break down any barrier linked to diversity. The protesters’ proposal is to restart the events from 1 September because, unlike sporting events, festivals are prohibited until 1 September and the premises are closed until 1 November. Considering that the vaccination campaign is already well underway (85%), the Dutch are wondering how long they will have to wait to be able to have fun again.
This difficult situation affected also the organization of annual conference+ festival Amsterdam Dance Event, gathering over 400 thousand visitors in 2019 from all over the world for networking, events, panels, showcases, festivals.
Amsterdam Dance Event
During its most recent press conference, the Dutch government announced its new set of Covid regulations, including a mandate that clubs, venues and indoor events are forced to close between 00:00 and 06:00. Despite these restrictions, the ADE staff is ready to organize a festival that is safe and respectful of the new anti-covid regulations. “Ever since the press conference, we have been overloaded with messages from organizers willing to do whatever they can to carry their events forward within current measures,” said co-director Meindert Kennis. “And we want to do everything we can to support them in their efforts to restart the live industry.” In the coming days, the ADE team and the Amsterdam city council will review the latest details of the new regulations for each type of event within the festival. Despite the great achievement, some important events such as the AMF at the Johan Cruijff Arena and the ADE Pro conference have been canceled. “The decision to postpone ADE Pro, the most important business period of the year for many music professionals, was particularly difficult at a time when the industry needed it most,” said the directors. “Furthermore, we need all our available resources to coordinate ADE Festival events in the most efficient way and to the best of our abilities, in the few weeks we have left. “The organizers have already announced that any ADE Pro Pass purchaser will be contacted with more information on their ticket within a few days. All those who have purchased Amsterdam Dance Event tickets will have the opportunity to refund their Pro Pass or move it to 2022.
This is the name of the protest movement that organized the two-day march in the Dutch streets and squares to finally shout their indignation at the conduct of the government regarding the music sector. In fact, in Holland and in many other European countries (including Italy), politicians have dealt with everything except the restart of events concerning music. Most of the time they opted for quicker and more hasty solutions (such as continually postponing reopening) or even drastic (with the definitive closure of the world of the night). The event managers then, to demonstrate the seriousness of the event, provided the participants with strict anti-covid rules to be respected. These include, of course, the obligation to maintain social distancing, keep the city clean, not cause disturbance to residents and avoid all sorts of physical and verbal violence. The first protest took place at 2pm on Saturday 21 August in the six main cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen, Eindhoven and Nijmegen. Then the support of the DJs could not be missing that, as the main protagonists of the events sector, have joined the initiative through videos in which they invite people to participate at the event (examples are Armin Van Buuren, Mike Mago, Mr Belt & Wezol) or who are portrayed inside the march (see the profile of Lucas & Steve). Not only artists but also the organizers of ADE sponsored this project and this is how more than 70,000 people flocked to the streets of Amsterdam (and beyond) with banners, placards and slogans to support and defend the world of music and events in this difficult historical period. To make the protest even more valid and official, the organizers wrote a letter on behalf of all participants in which they expose to Prime Minister Rutte, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports Jonge and Minister of Justice and Security Grapperhaus their proposals.
The second round
On Saturday 11 September, again at 2:00 pm and in the same cities involved a few weeks earlier, a second Unmuteus demonstration was held, to continue to peacefully protest against the closure of the clubs and events sector in the Netherlands. This time 150,000 people took part and DJ & producer Ibranovski made himself heard in the crowd, with a billboard bearing the words “Fight for your right to party” and marched together with all the other professionals in the sector.
At this point it is natural to wonder what is really happening in Europe as far as the events sector is concerned, because in some countries it is possible to participate in festivals as if covid had never been a problem – think of the recent Creamfields in England and Electric Love in Austria but also to Untold and Saga which have just taken place in Romania – and instead in others you have to manifest, making yourself heard in a loud voice, in order to obtain answers and a minimum of freedom.