It remains to be seen if the Fourteen Liberation Festivals in the Netherlands have survived yesterday’s editions, ruined by bad weather, financially.
Especially in the east and north of the country, where festivals have been temporarily halted due to an impending storm, the number of visitors and consumption turnover has been lower than expected. The organizers are now thinking ahead.
“A wise decision,” says Ibel Jan van Dijk, director of the Liberation Festival in Groningen. When a number of heavy rains fell on his town yesterday afternoon, he stopped the festival for a few hours.
He was lucky, because the crowd returned en masse when the sun broke out again around 6:30 p.m. They were less fortunate at the Festival of Liberation in Roermond. Only a few stayed there after taking a couple of showers Puritans behind.
Eventually it did get busier in the evenings, but the question is if these people eat enough to stick around on budget. The organization says: “We will incur a loss anyway because of this.” 1 Limburg.
Problem after problem
So the festival organizers have another problem. Never before have Tahrir Festivals faced such (financial) difficulty as this year. There are many reasons for this. Almost all costs go up by an average of 30 percent for hiring stage builders or security, for example. The energy bill is also higher.
In Utrecht, it seemed for a long time that the festival would not take place at all for the first time since 1993, until a major brewery and a private wealth fund intervened in February.
In Haarlem, the birthplace of all liberation festivals, chairman Bernt Schneider contacted the city council for support and to negotiate the tens of thousands of euros that the festival should contribute annually to its clean-up costs afterwards. In Roermond I (also) only managed to get the budget tour, by booking less expensive artists.
So the emergency measures were enough, until the rains came. The traces of wetness were immediately noticeable. In Utrecht, for example, the number of visitors lags significantly from last year; 27,000 people write instead of 37,000 last year RTV Utrecht.
In Groningen, the festival was interrupted for more than two hours due to heavy rain. Director Van Dyck looks back: “You end up in a situation of uncertainty and you have to arrange a lot” RTV North. “But actually we’ve always had confidence that we can open again.”
He was right. After the appeal, many returned and many new visitors joined. “Last night the field was completely packed and we were able to have a great evening,” says Van Dijk. Around midnight, visitors were surprised by an unexpected performance by the famous Groningen rapper Kraantje Pappie.
In Roermond it seemed to be over after a shower. “The band really had to get off the stage. The water and the equipment are irresponsible. Not a perfect combination,” says festival president Rob Fossen.
The crowd tried to hide, but it wasn’t so easy. Fossen: “We have three huge umbrellas here, thousands of people stood under them, crowded together. But not everyone is under the umbrellas.”
He hasn’t drafted the bill yet, but he fears huge losses. “Because of the two storms and the people who left as a result, we’ll never have it in terms of turnover to achieve financial success anyway. Fewer people automatically means less consumable sales.”
There was a setback
The mood in Zwolle is also not positive the next day. “The financial risk is actually so high that we can’t afford a major setback. And we definitely had that yesterday,” said festival director Aniamine Brugink.
Because of the heavy rain in the afternoon, much fewer people came to the festival in Zwolle: around 80,000, while there are usually between 120,000 and 150,000.
Bruggink woke up this morning with mixed feelings. “We finished yesterday as a party,” she says. RTV East. “After 6 p.m. the place was quite full with the crowd here again. That too was as we had hoped. But that afternoon threw a wrench into the works.”
Bruggink fears she will have to charge admission next year, though she’d prefer not to put a price tag on Freedom Day. “But this conversation is more topical than ever for many festivals.”
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