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As Concerts May Continue to be Banned, Musicians Worry About Industry’s Fate

Fanni Kaszás 2020.07.15.

Since the start of the epidemic, mass events larger than 500 people have been banned until August 15th, which has affected concerts and festivals in Hungary. The major summer festivals, Sziget, Volt, and Balaton Sound have all been canceled, but several big concerts at Puskás Aréna and Papp László Arena have also been postponed. Although it seemed that the music industry may start again in the middle of August, Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said in an interview that there is a great chance that further relaxation of the restrictions cannot be expected to prevent a possible second wave. Hungarian musicians and bands have since shared their concerns on their social media pages, saying that the music industry will hit a low point and the consequences will be unpredictable.

Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics talked about the chances of a possible second wave in an interview with Világgazdaság. He said they see a chance that the number of coronavirus cases will increase in Hungary as well, as this is also the trend in surrounding countries. He said that due to this, further relaxation of restrictions is not expected and it seems that events larger than 500 people will not be given the green light, and the government may even ban those that have already been permitted.

Coronavirus: Is a Second-Wave Coming?

According to an earlier decision by the government, it is not permitted to hold events larger than 500 people in Hungary until August 15th, and this is still in effect. On Sunday, Gergely Gulyás said that the government meeting on Wednesday will decide whether to keep the programs scheduled for August 20th and if they see it justified, they will possibly cancel them. If Palkovics’ expectations are met, it could affect the fireworks on St. Stephen’s Day, and even festivals postponed to the second half of next month, such as EFOTT, Fishing On Orfű, the SZIN, and the Colorado Festival, could be further postponed.

Mass Event Restrictions in Force Until August 15th: Festivals, Concerts and Events Canceled

A number of concerts were affected by the ban on mass events at Papp László Budapest Arena: Harry Styles and Nick Cave will come back at a later date in 2021, while the Celine Dion and Pearl Jam concerts are also under reorganization for a new date. There is no information yet about the Korn, System of a Down, and the Judas Priest, Aerosmith, and Kiss concerts.

After the minister’s statement, several Hungarian bands and musicians voiced their concerns on social media. According to them, if concerts won’t be permitted after August 15th either, the music industry will hit a low point and the consequences will be unpredictable.

Hungarian rock band Tankcsapda wrote on their Facebook page that they consider it important to point out that the music sector “has been vegetating since the beginning of the epidemic, not just musicians but a whole service industry, background industry has been moved to the periphery, including technicians, sound engineers, organizers, club owners, hospitality and sound technology companies. Tens of thousands of people, who are still struggling to survive.”

Kispál és a borz and Kiscsillag lead singer András Lovasi also posted about the same concerns, claiming that in the last couple of weeks, he could only use his studio as apple storage. According to him, musicians did not receive enough help during this period from the government, since the HUF 200 million (EUR 566,000) they distributed among musicians is not enough to help an industry that has a shortage of HUF 40 billion due to the coronavirus.

According to television host and rapper Majka, it should be decided whether or not to organize mass events without double standards. He highlighted the Fradi-Újpest football match, where according to reports, 22,000 spectators were present. The musician said it is nonsense that the government imposes stricter rules on musicians than on others.

Musician Anna Pásztor also shared the others’ concerns and she even fears that in the future, her band ‘Anna and the Barbies’ will only play music at a hobby level. She added that almost half of the band members are working now as pizza delivery men or mechanics and they are running out of reserves. According to Pásztor, a half-year shutdown could mean the end of many bands. She also drew attention to the fact that it seems unfair that concerts cannot be held at the same venues as football matches.

featured photo: illustration (Márton Mónus/MTI)