Liberation festivals financially in trouble | 4 and 5 May

with videoThe liberation festivals lack cash. A poor buffer due to the corona crisis and inflation weighs on the economy of the fourteen festivals. In Groningen, tickets will even have to be sold this year to round the budget.

Liberation festivals are held annually on May 5 to celebrate the liberation of the Netherlands at the end of World War II. Together with more than 1 million visitors annually, the festivals constitute the largest music event in the Netherlands.

The Liberation Festival in Groningen is the first in the country that will now work with admission. According to a spokesman for this place, it is a ‘national lawsuit’. A ticket costs 5 euros, but admission is still free for low-income people and young children.

“We actually use a ticket system,” confirms Kristen Bos from Liberation Festival Groningen. “The main reason is the increase in the cost of all equipment. Then you have to think about an increase of 20 to 30 percent. In addition, we have had two corona years and beverage sales were under pressure the year before due to bad weather. It is not a comfortable starting position. ”

The budget is exactly balanced

By requesting access now, the budget of the foundation in Groningen is accurately balanced. “That way we can also serve the cheapest festival beer in the Netherlands tomorrow, which costs only 2.90 euros,” boasts Bos. “We hope it will all be a great success, because we would love to do it for free again next year.”

The National Committee for 4 and 5 May supports Groningen in this pilot, it sounds from a spokesman. “Two years of corona has done something with the income from the liberation festivals, they are not well off financially. An important condition is that the festivals remain accessible. ” The spokesman expects a massive influx of visitors across the Netherlands. “The weather is getting good and people have had to wait for two years.”

This year, there are more than 300 performances by artists in fourteen locations in twelve provinces.

Admission was always free

Until now, admission to all liberation festivals, each of which attracts tens of thousands of visitors, was free. Groningen breaks that tradition. The festivities throughout the Netherlands are organized under the auspices of and partly paid for by the National Committee on 4 and 5 May. In the last budget before the corona crisis (2019), almost 1 million euros were earmarked for this.

The main sponsor, Vfonds, also contributes 1 million euros on an annual basis to two projects in the National Committee: the liberation festivals and Adopt a monument. With money from the National Postcode Loterij, VriendenLoterij and Nederlandse Loterij, this fund supports projects that increase knowledge about war and conflict and emphasize the importance and appreciation of the democratic rule of law.

The European Parliament, the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the Ministry of the Interior are also on the ‘friends list’, but the liberation festivals all work with their own budget. This is paid for by the province and the municipalities, and the amounts of support vary enormously from place to place, insiders report.

Ambassadors of Freedom

In addition to performances by Freedom Ambassadors Suzan & Freek, Duncan Laurence, Fresku and Donnie, this year the festivals place great emphasis on current developments in Ukraine.

For example, singer Duncan Laurence flies by helicopter to four festivals. Laurence calls it honorable that he is allowed to do so, as a representative of the LGBTQ + community. “We still feel the rejection because we are who we are. I am no longer controlled by what others think, but it affects me, he says to this page.

“As every year, the liberation celebrations on May 5 – Freedom Day – reflect the importance of freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” the organization said. “In addition, May 5 is also a day to realize that freedom is vulnerable. “The fact that thousands of people around the world are now taking to the streets to speak out against the war confirms the power of solidarity and the importance of an open democratic society.”

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Atmosphere at an earlier edition of the Liberation Festival in Groningen.
Atmosphere at an earlier edition of the Liberation Festival in Groningen. © ANP

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