The Day the Music Died: Inside COVID’s Devastating Effect on Live Music. Part III: Music Festivals

The summer season and music festivals are synonymous with the live music fan. Large-scale festivals throughout the Czech Republic routinely pack in thousands of revelers every summer. This year, just like 2020, was marked by a wave of cancellations.

At its core a music festival is dependent on attendees forking out money to see acts from all over the world. Once that’s removed there can be no festival. The past two years are perfect examples. 

This is the third and final installment – focusing on large music festivals – examining COVID’s impact on live music in the Czech Republic. The first installment examining club culture is here, while the second part on live indoor concerts is located here.

Prague Morning had the opportunity to speak with Jiří Sedlák, head of press and media for Colours of Ostrava, on a diverse array of topics including the realization that festivals were cancelled for a second straight year, government aid, and the continuous search for the “new normal” that will finally allow the return of music festivals, among other issues. 

This is the second straight year virtually all festivals were once again cancelled. At what point did you realize this year was not going to work out?

From autumn to January there was optimism the festival could happen. We were trying to implement plans in order to proceed this summer with the festival. By the end of February, it looked more and more unlikely. The situation wasn’t getting any better. We decided to postpone the festival at the end of March.

Are you optimistic Colours of Ostrava will occur next year?

We’re sure it will happen. It must happen. We can’t have a third straight year without the festival.

What gives you hope this will be the case?

Vaccinations across Europe make us hopeful, and we are optimistic they [vaccinations] will help a great deal.

Can you give us any information on financial aid received during this difficult time?

First, we’re just really grateful many fans held onto their tickets. We did receive support from the Ministry of Culture, the city of Ostrava, the Moravian-Silesian region, and our private partners.

Do festivals have a future in the live music scene currently marked by a pandemic that discourages large social gatherings?

They [festivals] have a future. I am sure next summer they’ll happen – maybe with some additional health measures, but they will be back. People will always love watching big headliners on the biggest stages. The majority of festival organizers in the Czech Republic love music and doing live events. Their hearts are in it, so I’m sure they’ll find ways to do what they love.

What do you think festivals will look like coming out of this pandemic?

Festivals will not be the same as in 2019. We’re searching for what the “new normal” will look like. Once found we can adjust and then provide the best festival experience while keeping our guests safe.


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