YES Group Seminar Sessions 2018: Fruzsina Szep
Fruzsina Szep is the festival director for Lollapalooza Berlin and Board member of Yourope, the European Festival Association. She was the program & artistic director of Sziget (HU) and was the funding director of the Hungarian Music Export Office and the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Brussels. She also initiated CEETEP, the Central-Eastern European Talent Exchange Program that is part of ETEP, the European Talent Exchange Program.
She is a lecturer at Universities where she holds classes in art management, creative concept development, and festival organization.
Fruzsina was born in Budapest, grew up in Munich and started her professional career in the music and entertainment industry at the age of 18.
Fruzsina Szep was invited to speak at the 25th Edition of the YES Group European Health and Safety Seminar. The focus was the political situation in Europe and how festivals can create synergy and understanding in the complex contemporary situation.
One of Fruzsina’s main goals throughout her career has been to build festivals with a strong artistic and creative content, but also with a heart and soul, which ensures the festival experience is long-lasting and positive. This links with the development of the ‘Take A Stand’ movement, of which Fruzsina has been instrumental, which encourages social cohesion in our society, promotes awareness and tolerance for all, regardless of culture, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, colour or origin.
‘Take A Stand’ motivates people to participate in politics and social activities, speak up for peaceful dialogue, humanism, tolerance, and mutual understanding, and attempts to make the world a better place for every single individual.
The importance of health and safety is becoming increasingly apparent to those working in the wider live music and festival industry, but this means that event management has multiple elements of which all have to balance simultaneously, for example, festivals have to manage the expectations of both the artists and the audience regardless of the event health and safety management.
Respect, tolerance, and love were strong topics in the session delivered by Fruzsina as she reminded us that everybody is human and therefore we have to ensure we develop our understanding of others, regardless of background or beliefs, and genuinely feel and care for others. The festival team has to work in a way to make sure that everyone feels safe and supported, but the pressure of this has to be managed, so it doesn’t build to an extent where it affects the main purpose of the event, which should always be fun and enjoyment.
‘Take A Stand’ was developed to remind the industry to speak up, be active, show solidarity, be open-minded and to respect others as the potential impact festivals can have during just one season is huge. Fun and enjoyment are the key aspects of the festival, but social messages, which are received by festival audiences and staff are shared experiences, which can be reiterated and can have a huge domino effect that radiates to wider society.
Festivals have huge communication power, reaching over 100 million people in one summer edition, so what and how they share is of vital importance. ‘Respectful togetherness’ is a key message of ‘Take A Stand’ and is one that could change social behavior. How should festivals tell audiences to behave in the right way? Will the audience immediately understand? This is possible if festival audience’s responses are primed by the festival environment.
The biggest challenge faced by ‘Take A Stand’ for the 2018 season was fighting human stupidity! The campaign is trying to achieve a very large goal and is still in its early stages, though the campaign has so much potential momentum, which is entirely reliant on the power of human kindness. Humans are inherently good and festivals need to try and encourage this, as the industry can influence legislation, right up to EU level if it is seen to have an impact on such a large scale.
Europeans need to try and get to a point where they are not afraid to be in a public space for a celebration, such as New Year’s Eve and must try to eliminate fear and stop it from influencing people’s decision to attend events. Negative energy is creeping into the festival industry and tainting other celebratory events, so legislative guidance needs to be developed to ease such challenges. A decision that needs to be made now in order to shape the future. People don’t have to keep quiet, as by speaking out they can stamp out human stupidity and its consequences. Respectful togetherness is the solution, but strength comes in numbers and the event and festival industry has access to millions of people who can share the message.
Festivals are stepping into a new era and need to encourage fun with solidarity and if festivals make this a new statement for their events, this can, and will, spread to wider society. Relaxed atmospheres can be encouraged on festival sites, as the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ are key aspects of the experience with a welcoming and colourful dreamland often being created. With this in mind, how can festivals also be seen to be secure? The visual of having armed security on site, which is often legally required in Europe, can take away from the experience that festivals are attempting to create, so what is the solution?
Soft values, such as personal communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence, are important in the events industry, as music and culture are intrinsically intertwined with politics, and festivals are providing the single largest platform for this.
Quotes from the members of YES Group showed that the session had been inspiring. Chris Kemp (MOM Consultancy) stating that as an industry “we have to make noise and change the way crowded spaces work’ and Morten Therkildsen (Roskilde Festival) stated that “we have to be careful in our roles as health and safety management as the focus has shifted from protecting the audience and their expectations to protecting the site. We are putting up more fences than ever and having an increased security presence, but this means that we are placing more importance on security than experience. Is this right?”. Michal Sladek (Pohoda) had the final say in the session and stated that “economics and politics are heavily related. Brexit is a reaction to try and establish a ‘bubble’ where the area can be identified and managed. The ‘unknown’ is the fear and we have to ask why the world feels hostile? We need to open our hearts and remain positive.”
For further information regarding ‘Take A Stand’, visit www.take-a-stand.eu.
‘Take A Stand’ was created in 2017 and the trailer was used on big screens of the main stages at many events to share the message of social cohesion. The mission statement states “It’s time to take a stand for Europe, and indeed for the whole world.”
The YES Group must now look to the future and asks what needs to be addressed over the next 25 editions?
If you have any suggestions regarding issues of health and safety that need consideration, discussion or development, please don’t hesitate to contact; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or for further details regarding the work of YES Group and how to become a member of Yourope, please visit www.yourope.org.