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Hellfest Open Air: Verzweifelter Brandbrief an die französische Regierung

Der Festivalsommer 2021 steht auf wackeligen Beinen.

VON AM 19/01/2021

Als französisches Pendant zu Festivals wie Rock am Ring und Rock im Park findet im Juni jeden Jahres traditionell das Hellfest Open Air statt. In der Gemeinde Clisson im Département Loire-Atlantique in der Region Pays de la Loire geben sich die größten Acts aus Rock und Metal die Klinke in die Hand.

Wie so ziemlich jedes Festival konnte auch das Hellfest 2020 wegen der Coronavirus-Pandemie nicht stattfinden. Die Betreiber nahmen sogleich die Planungen für die nächste Ausgabe im Juni 2021 auf. Nun steht auch dieser Festivalsommer noch immer sehr auf der Kippe.

Mit einem Brandbrief wenden sich die Betreiber des Festivals in Frankreich an die Regierung, genauer gesagt an Kulturministerin Roselyne Bachelot. Darin führen sie auf, dass sie es mittlerweile nicht mehr unterstützen können, dass auf die Veranstaltungsbranche und Betreiber von Live-Events und -Stätten so wenig Rücksicht genommen wird.

Hellfest Open Air in Frankreich wendet sich mit offenem Brief an die Regierung

Die Kosten und der Aufwand der Vorbereitungen seien kaum zu tragen, wenn auch die diesjährige Ausgabe nicht stattfinden kann. Von der Regierung fühlen sich die Verantwortlichen im Stich gelassen, weil nicht genügend Hilfen zur Verfügung gestellt werden oder gar nicht die Möglichkeit besteht, welche zu beantragen.

Das Festival sei nicht nur in Gefahr, sondern stehe auch langsam aber sicher vor dem Aus. Die Verantwortlichen appellieren an die Regierung, mehr dafür zu tun, dass das Hellfest Open Air auch in Zukunft noch stattfinden kann.

Die englischsprachige Übersetzung des Brandbriefs findet ihr am Ende des Beitrags. Das Original ist in Französisch verfasst. Die untenstehende Übersetzung ist eine automatisch generierte Überstezung von Facebook. Hier hapert es manchmal an der Korrektheit, doch der Kontext wird klar. Solltet ihr der französischen Sprache besser mächtig sein als wir (war nicht unsere Stärke in der Schule!), dann könnt ihr euch den Brief im Original im weiter unten eingebetteten Instagram-Post durchlesen.

Beim Hellfest 2021 stehen u.a. System Of A Down, Deftones, Korn, Judas Priest, Dropkick Murphys und mehr auf der Bühne. Das Ganze soll vom 18. bis zum 20. Juni 2021 stattfinden.

Die automatische Übersetzung des offenen Briefes

„[…] We will start with this famous quote: „Hope for the best and prepare for the worst – that’s the rule.“
We have been very attentive to your last media interventions in recent days, and we quote you: “We will go to festivals this summer”, “we have time”, “fingers crossed”.

Madam Minister, excuse our somewhat familiar tone but on our side we do not cross our fingers, we squeeze our buttocks! NO we do not have the time and it is urgent that you realize it.
An event like ours requires a year of preparation from many stakeholders. You will easily agree that it is not possible to accommodate more than 60,000 people per day for 3 days, in a small town of 7,000 inhabitants by only starting the preparations one or two months before the date of this. this. This is not about amateurism.

We have survived during the last 10 months, on a drip, thanks to the partial unemployment measures put in place by your government. But now, the months have passed since our event canceled last spring, and the extended edition deadline is fast approaching.

From June 18 to 20, the most important (and expensive!) Festival of contemporary music in France will be held in the town of Clisson in Loire-Atlantique. This will surprise you, but this is not an event where the biggest French variety stars come to perform, but a festival honoring so-called „extreme“ music (Hard rock, Punk Rock, Rock ‚ n’roll, Metal etc…). Surprising isn’t it? The same music that you neither see nor hear on television and to which the very official Victoires de la Musique ceremony still does not seem to pay attention (but that is another debate, we grant you).

In order to be ready to welcome this great musical event and our loyal festival-goers who love big sound and hops, we have chosen to take the risk of getting back to work 100% since January 4, thus depriving ourselves of all the existing aid that your government has put in place. Unfortunately, we have no other choice if we want to be able to give our audience the festival they deserve.

These same festival-goers who for 99.75% of them have decided to keep their 2020 edition ticket out of solidarity with Hellfest, and who have placed their trust in us for a return to 2021.
Only here, restarting such a machine is expensive, very expensive. So we’re going to have to come to terms with the idea that each passing month from now on is costing us more than € 250,000 in salaries, fixed charges and other loan repayments. And without knowing if the festival will take place. What structure would agree to spend such sums without having a guarantee of results? Without knowing that all that money isn’t being thrown out the window?

Contrary to many other cultural associations (and sometimes even large groups listed on the stock exchange … * follow our gaze * …), we do not have the privilege of receiving large public subsidies for the organization of our event (0.1 % of our budget). There is no doubt, if the summer season is disaster again, that many of these structures helped by public money will be able to survive, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, this is not our case, whatever is lost will be lost. It will probably be easier for us to hope to win the lottery to cover our losses than to wait for providential aid from the State which will probably never come …

Strange paradox: Hellfest, thanks to the generosity and solidarity of its audience, is the only event to have managed to collect € 200,000 in donations for the Nantes University Hospital during the first confinement. And yet, he will be the one who receives the least amount of state aid! We will thus have contributed more to the lack of resources in our hospitals than we have received aid. Funny, isn’t it?
Do not get me wrong Madam Minister, we are in no way jealous of these structures helped by public funds. We are even extremely proud to have succeeded in setting up an event elected 3 times in a row „best major festival in France“ while remaining independent and with the sole strength of the unwavering support of thousands of fans, volunteers, intermittents, providers and private partners. This allows us, as you can see in this letter, to keep our freedom of speech and speech.

So once again Minister, NO we do NOT have time. Our non-profit association which manages the largest budget of all current music festivals in France (25 million euros) is in danger. The vagueness that reigns inexorably leads to an economic catastrophe that hundreds of thousands of Hellfest fans, as well as hundreds of service providers, will find it difficult to „digest“ if you do not act quickly.

Just like you, we aspire to rediscover an abundant cultural life. France is a land of festivals and you were able to realize over the past year how ESSENTIAL our events are to the well-being of a large number of French people. Yes, live shows in all their forms are essential, they are not mere products!
On reading the vaccination plan that your government wishes to put in place, it appears that a large number of so-called “at risk” people will be vaccinated at the dawn of summer 2021, thus largely responding to the problem of saturation of French hospital services. The effectiveness of this vaccination plan is your responsibility, cultural stakeholders do not have to suffer from ups and downs and logistical hazards.
Madam Minister, our question is therefore the following: „With less hospital pressure, combined with a summer period when we know that this virus is less virulent, is it conceivable to consider holding our mega events? Or, should we consider now that until collective immunity is achieved, it will be impossible to re-organize events hosting tens of thousands of spectators? „.

The answer we are expecting from you is not whether festival-goers will be able to attend next summer at “real-fake” festivals at a reduced level, while seated, in the green zone and respecting any curfew. ‚it be. We want to know if 60,000 people a day will be able to come headbanging standing, in the open air and without social distancing, listening to good old rock’n’roll!

It seems to us that a number of arguments need to be urgently discussed with all the organizers of large-scale festivals like ours, so that decisions can be taken, whatever they may be. They will put an end to this unbearable waiting situation, which can no longer last, at the risk of endangering the sustainability of independent associations like ours as well as that of many intermittents, artists and service providers.
These arguments, what are they? Our festivals must take place outdoors and in the middle of summer. The scientific community agrees that these 2 elements are definite assets for limiting the spread of the virus. Our country has a large network of places capable of quickly and easily testing people (pharmacies, treating physicians, laboratories, etc.). Isn’t it possible to suggest that festival-goers come with a negative test of less than 48/72 hours as is the practice for certain air trips?

With a favorable climate, an open-air organization, less hospital pressure and an additional preventive test, wouldn’t the „benefit-risk“ slider have a chance to be reversed?
Economically, our festivals are invaluable engines of activity for the regions that host them. The hotels, restaurants, bars and other businesses that shine around us are all sectors which are suffering greatly from this crisis and which have high expectations of our events. To speak only of the territory of the Nantes vineyard, the benefits are estimated at more than 25 million euros.

Courage is to do whatever it takes to allow life to resume, but surely not to let a situation deteriorate to the point of being banned.

We do not pretend to be specialists in the medical field and we will be careful not to assert that a solution to the holding of major events is possible this summer. We are responsible organizers and we fully understand the issues that are yours. Only, it seems to us that protecting is not just about prohibiting.
With this letter, Madam Minister, it is not only our association that begs you to act, it is a whole territory, thousands of volunteers, hundreds of intermittents, musicians, an incalculable number of providers of services and partner companies. […]“

Bild: Offizielles Artwork zum Hellfest Open Air 2021

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