In five years, the number of festivals being held in Friesland has risen by a third, according to Festival Monitor
Translated by Thomas Ansell
The number of festivals has grown from 33 to 44, however according to festival organiser Paul van Berlo, neither the Province of Friesland nor the City of Leeuwarden have created a clear festival policy. “If that happens then both citizens and organisers can see very clearly what is and what is not allowed. This will prevent court case following court case.” As reported in the Omrop Fryslan.
The rise of a third in the number of festivals is higher than the Dutch national average (27%). Next to this, the number of visitors to the province has very much increased, with 1,091,000 people visiting Friesland in 2018. In 2014 just 739,000 people visited the province.
One major problem is that of permit: in 2019 four festivals had issues obtaining them. Welcome to the Village and Psy-fi must (by law) stop playing music as late this year. Garden of Dance, part of Sneekweek, is looking for a new location but cannot find one with the correct permits attached, whilst the Gemeente Terschelling has begun its preparations for Eilân festival too late, meaning that environmental permits cannot be gained, and the festival must be postponed or cancelled.
The fact that there is no central festival policy does, on the one hand, mean that the municipality looks out for the smallest of details, says Van Berlo. For ten years he has organised festivals, including Into the Grave: “Through the many court cases, the gemeente has become enormously detail-oriented when granting permits, because people are scared that they have forgotten something, or that something is not in a good state. That leads to a very small amount of permits being granted.”
Organiser of Welcome to the Village, Ruben Bosch, has similar views: “in just seven years, the application form has gone from 20 pages to 200.”
According to Van Berlo it is important that a policy comes forward regarding festivals and locations. He says that for festival organisers, the lack of policy means that the biggest artist cannot be booked in the short time that now exists between finding a location and booking the artists. “If you want to book a very popular artist, you need to be able to confirm it very quickly, and that never happens at the moment. I once tried to get Metallica to play, and we had to abandon the idea for a number of reasons, but one big one was that we couldn’t find a suitable location in time.”