“The first news of cancellations or postponements of festivals for 2022, as is the case with SWR Barroselas Metalfest, which did not happen in 2020 and will not happen in 2021, returning in 2022 is of great concern. It is time for the festival, events and culture sector to finally be looked at with a strategy for guardianship and to prevent the entire sector and its professionals from no longer existing” Aporfest said in a statement.
The pandemic has caused music festivals to be cancelled or postponed around the world this year, which bring together thousands of people and the focus mainly being on the summer months.
In Portugal, the 2020 festivals that were meant to take place were all postponed to 2021. Barroselas Metalfest is the first Portuguese music festival to be postponed from 2021 to 2022 and there are fears that many others could follow suit.
Aporfest argues that music festivals cannot be forgotten and they criticised the lack of an “effective and efficient strategy of the Ministry of Culture. The association states that “more than 300 annual festivals bring wealth to Portugal, coming from the flow of national and international audiences, something that becomes more important when festivals are held outside of main cities”.
Warning that the “situation is on the edge”, Aporfest foresees “a country without culture and entertainment in the future”. And the little that survives will tend to be devoid of quality. How long will professionals in this sector have to continue to sacrifice themselves without any light at the end of the tunnel?”
In May, the Government announced a ban on “festivals and shows of a similar nature” until 30 September. At the end of September, the Government decided to extend this ban until 31 December this year. However, these types of shows are allowed with marked places and compliance with rules that allow social distancing.
In the case of postponements, ticket holders were entitled to request their exchange for a voucher “of equal value to the price paid”, valid until 31 December 2021, and which can be used in the “purchase of tickets for the same show to be held on a new date or for other events held by the same promoter”. If the voucher is not used by 31 December, 2021, “the bearer is entitled to a refund of [his] value”, and may request it from 1 January, 2022, within 14 working days”.
Meanwhile, another industry association, the Association of Promoters of Shows, Festivals and Events (APEFE) will hold a “Demonstration for Culture” on Saturday in Lisbon.
Contacted by Lusa, Sandra Faria, from APEFE, explained that the demonstration will take place “inside Campo Pequeno, as if it were a show”. That is, “complying with the rules imposed by the Directorate-General of Health”, and with the capacity of the enclosure limited to 2,000 people.
According to Sandra Faria, APEFE invited “formal and informal associations and movements of the sector”, as well as artists to join the protest.
The concert venues closed in March, when the first state of emergency was declared, although the shows began to be postponed or cancelled before that. The venues were able to reopen from 1 June but with hygiene and safety standards defined.
With the entry into force of the second state of emergency and the decree of a new partial curfew, ,concert venues throughout the country have been once again forced to change schedules or postpone programming, so as to maintain the activity, which can ensure their survival.
The Government has decreed the curfew between 11pm and 5am, on weekdays, from Monday 16 November as well as “limitation of freedom of movement” on weekends of the 14 and 15 November and 21 and 22 November.
The number of 121 initial municipalities, most affected by the pandemic, covered by those restrictions, rose last week to 191 municipalities, as announced by the Prime Minister last week, after meeting of the Council of Ministers.
For APEFE, this decision “is a big blow for the sector.”
“We do not understand, because if the rules are followed in the venues, and if they are safe - and are safer than going to the supermarket - how can supermarkets be open and concert halls not, within those times, when circulation is organised, when there is social distancing between people, when it is mandatory to wear a mask?” questioned Sandra Faria, from APEFE, in a statement to Lusa.
The Culture sector, which “is already experiencing tragedy in 2020”, considers that the situation has been made even worse due to the weekend restrictions, she concluded.