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Amsterdam Cracks Down On Event Policy, Threatens Festival Scene

24 May 2024 | 1:57 pm | Emma Newbury

“We are at risk of losing our vibrant festival scene. But festivals are in the heart of Amsterdam.”

Hardwell at Amsterdam Arena

Hardwell at Amsterdam Arena (Credit: Yvette de Wit on Unsplash)

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Amsterdam is renowned for being a city where anything goes; from the invigorating busker scene, nightclub sprawl, and rave haven, the city has solidified itself as the ‘fun cousin’ of Europe, with Australians flocking there by the masses.

Unfortunately, the city council's new events policy threatens to squander the scene that makes Amsterdam what it is.

So what exactly is the council doing to inhibit festivals? The Municipal Council of Amsterdam revealed a renewal of events policy that would be decided following the July Municipal Council meeting over the 17th-18th and implemented from 2026.

A statement from the council shows that the policy aims to incorporate a new screening process for festival submissions, which will narrow the city's vision for the number of events it will hold.

This has left Dutch festival organisers such as Loveland, Open Air, and De Zon actively campaigning against the new policy, fearing that the new permit will lead to many festivals going under.

Dutch dance promotor Loveland commented about the situation on their socials:

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“The municipality wants to implement a new event policy in 2025 where the current event calendar will be under review as they feel the offer of electronic music festivals is too high. This could potentially mean that some of your favourite dance festivals can not take place next year if the municipality decides so.”

While slashing the number of festivals across Amsterdam, the events policy also includes a lengthy application process with an uncertain review date. 

“You cannot organise a safe and successful festival in six months,” festival organisers wrote online.

“Organisers who get a place cannot organise their event properly. Many costs have already been incurred for the longer-running major festivals. Organisers who don’t get a permit will go bankrupt.” 

Large-scale Dutch organisation Unmute Us has been actively protesting against the decline of festivals since the world’s jumpstart post-COVID. The organisation aims to address the lack of transparency in the changing events policy, with a petition available to help save the festival scene on its website

“We are at risk of losing our vibrant festival scene. But festivals are in the heart of Amsterdam.” The company said in a statement on its website.

“The short term in which permits are granted makes organising festivals virtually impossible and puts organisers at financial risk. The new policy ignores the expertise and experience needed to organise major events and falls short in maintaining safety, building relationships and sustainability,” they add.

“The incomprehensible test of the municipality throws everyone into uncertainty. New festival organisers, who add to a diverse festival program and have an extra difficult time. The festival scene is once again misunderstood by the municipality.”