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Whole Festival Season Canceled in Hungary after Gov’t Extends Mass Event Restrictions

Csenge Schőnviszky 2020.07.31.

After Thursday’s announcement by the government, festivals without exception have been canceled, which puts the festival industry into a difficult situation. Negotiations about the ‘rescue package’ provided by the government could begin next week on the subsidy scheme to help the music industry.

Summer 2020 festival season over before it even began

The coronavirus-related restrictions for music and dance events will be maintained after August 15th, Gulyás Gergely announced on Thursday. According to the decision, festivals cannot be held in the second half of August either. 

The biggest festivals, Sziget, VOLT, and Balaton Sound were already canceled at the end of April, but some smaller ones tried to reorganize the programs and schedule the events for the last weeks of August.

After the government’s decision on Thursday that the ban still applies to events of more than 500 people, smaller festivals – Zamárd Strand Festival, EFOTT at Lake Velence, Fishing On Orfű, SZIN in Szeged, Jazz Picnic in Paloznak, and the Kolorádó Festival in Adyligetcanceled their events.

Festival organizers are asking festival-goers to use their tickets next summer if they can, to help the festival industry.

See you next year

Strand Festival’s announcement:

“We are very sorry…We have been waiting for this year more than ever. (…) We did not expect, but at the same time we knew in the depths of our souls, as in 2020 all festivals will be missed, all over the world.”

https://www.facebook.com/StrandFesztival/posts/1528862467320398

EFOTT’s goodbye:

“It’s hard to speak up, because we can say without exaggeration that we have been looking forward to this year more than ever, as we would have celebrated EFOTT’s 45th birthday together this year …”

https://www.facebook.com/efott/posts/10159910443443368

Exceptions to the rule

However, not every mass event is banned in the country. Sporting events, such as football matches, can be held with thousands of visitors. Earlier, PMO Head Gergely Gulyás argued that unlike at concerts, visitors cannot drink alcohol at football matches and since these are all seated events, football fans will keep the rules of social distancing. Many have questioned if this reasoning has any grounds at all but the government is sticking to its argument.

Also, the Papp László Arena will host 50-year old nostalgia band Apostol’s mega concert in late August. Although it is an indoor event, since the concert is seated, it was given the green light by authorities.

The musicians and organizers have repeatedly expressed their dissatisfaction over the government’s decision to not only not lift the restrictions for musical events, but seeming to be uninterested in finding a solution so that such events could be held.

‘Garage Concerts’

Recent months have put musicians into difficult positions, when their main source of income comes from performing at music-dance events and festivals. In addition, the epidemiological situation has forced the government to maintain a ban on major events after August 15th, which has now put musicians and bands into much worse situations than previously.

Gergely Gulyás announced on Thursday that the government is providing financial support to the music industry during these difficult times.

“We will provide HUF 5.3 billion (EUR 15,3 million) in support, which will be a series of garage concerts. This will be a great help to Hungarian musicians and the technical staff working with them. We will involve well-known music producers in the selection.”

The government’s intention is to use 800 million from the HUF 5.3 billion (EUR 15.3 million) specifically to help gypsy bands.

The ‘rescue package’ was put together from the German model and the ideas of Minister Szilárd Demeter.

In the featured photo illustration: the Strand festival in 2017. Photo by István Ruzsa/MTI