Event organizers forced to go out of pocket for concerts to take place ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

VIljandi Folk Music Festival in 2019.
VIljandi Folk Music Festival in 2019. Source: press materials

The coronavirus has caused several concerts and festivals to be postponed that puts companies in a difficult position. Organizers are looking at having to go out of pocket for events to take place at all.

"Considering that a lot of events and festivals are canceled this summer or postponed until next year, what it means is that organizers will have to go a year virtually without income," Henri Roosipõld, head of Live Music Estonia, told the "Vikerhommik" radio show. "On top of that, organizers will have to pay more for work done last year and perhaps next year's work, depending on how long this situation will last," he added.

The situation is made more complicated by ticket refunds. "Organizers pay VAT on tickets, commission, marketing expenses before concerts even take place. In terms of summer festivals, a year's work has already been done and all state and brokers' fees paid in advance," Roosipõld explained.

Ticket refunds are subject to commissions, while taxes need to be paid again if the organizer returns to the event later. "These costs really pile up and we could use a system for handling tickets," he said.

He added that several countries have rules in place for ticket refunds. It was decided in Latvia and Lithuania that there will be no refunds while the emergency situation lasts because it is impossible to say whether events will eventually take place. In Belgium, refunds are only available if people can prove they cannot attend the rescheduled event.

Roosipõld also said that the Estonian music world got crisis relief from the Ministry of Culture's €4 million aid package. €1.8 million of the sum was made available to those who had previously received support from the ministry and €2.2 million to those who had not. "While it helped many, it needs to be said that the ministry introduced certain limitations that perhaps… that relief did not reach all major event organizers and some musicians and organizers failed to qualify," Roosipõld said.

He added that supporting the world of music is more complicated as there are a lot of entrepreneurs. "If the rest of culture largely relies on state support under normal circumstances so to speak, musicians are largely private entrepreneurs," Roosipõld admitted.

Even though major festivals and concerts will be canceled this summer, smaller events are possible. "We are staying in touch with other European concert associations and the consensus is that if someone is organizing something, it demonstrates good will and the desire to kickstart the sector. Nevertheless, organizers and venues find themselves in a difficult situation as it is rather complicated to put on events in the conditions of these restrictions."

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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