A policy decision made public by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has given hope to live music promoters across the globe. She has asked the organizers of Novi Sad, Serbia gathering EXIT Festival to reschedule the event to August of 2020 instead of postponing until 2021. It was originally slated to take place July 9th-12th.
Brnabic made the recommendation during a visit to a hospital in Novi Sad. “We recommend to move the festival to August because we expect that the situation [regarding the pandemic] in the whole of Europe will be totally under control by then,” she said according to Pollstar. Brnabic cited COVID-19 experts belonging to Serbia’s National Crisis Team as having aided in the conclusion.
Exit Co-Founder Dušan Kovačević said that while the event will not be able to go on in its usual format, “we are delighted to hear that the health situation is becoming increasingly better and that we’ll be able to mark the 20th anniversary of Exit this summer with meaningful and safe event.” Organizers would still be required to adhere to capacity limits and other quarantine guidelines, which are subject to change.
The Serbian officials’ joint conclusion adds fuel to the fire of a heated debate around business restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a conversation EXIT’s organizers haven’t shied away from themselves – which is entirely on brand for the festival.
The first edition of the event took place in 2000 as a protest against Serbia’s then president, Slobodan Milošević. In the 20 years since, it has grown to accommodate 55,000 daily attendees with talent spread across 40 stages. Previous editions of the festival have billed the likes of Madonna, Nina Kraviz, The Cure and Carl Cox.
In light of the crisis, EXIT’s organizers have pivoted back to their roots in social change. In May, they began hosting a weekly conference series called EXIT Strategy intended to facilitate a dialogue around dilemmas arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Panel speakers have included Uniline Tourist Company Managing Director Boris Žgomba and Montenegrin Tourist Association President Zarko Radulovic.
EXIT Festival’s organizers have yet to announce any dates for an August event at the time of writing.