No Atlas Weekend in 2020

Evan Murray in conversation with Dmitriy Sidorenko, founder of Atlas weekend.

The Atlas Weekend is an annual music and arts festival held at the Expocenter of Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine. It was founded by Dmytro Sydorenko and is organized by PMK Event Agency and concert hall Atlas. The event features many genres of music, including rock, indie, hip hop, and electronic dance music.

Hope all is well, and everyone around you is healthy. Can you tell me what the status is for your festival at this time?  Give us an inside idea of how things have been happening for the festival.

We’ve decided to postpone the festival to July 6-11th 2021. Around January–February we realized that it would be better to “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”, so we started to think about alternatives in case of a negative scenario.

Unfortunately, when Ukrainian officials claimed the quarantine extension, we had to take actions. We worked hard and did our best, but still came to the decision to postpone the festival. Risk factors have become too powerful: we cannot guarantee that all artists will be able to come to us, nor that we can ensure the absolute safety of the guests of our festival, nor that we can hold a festival on such a scale as we planned with the team.

That means holding the festival in full is not possible. So, even taking all the possible risks into account, postponing is the only right decision in a situation like this and our top-priority task for now is to get out of this crisis with minimal losses.

What are some of the biggest challenges the festival is facing right now?

Situation we’ve faced is quite tough: we need to survive two festival years with the budget, which is enough only for one year. So we had to make difficult decisions related to staff, advertising campaigns and other directions.

Currently our team is working on saving announced line-up in full and additionally filling it with new and not less cool names. We have a lot of work to do, so we need to be flexible enough to handle all the issues and challenges on the go, but we’re still feeling very positive.

Are there any plans in place, incase something like this happens again?

We’ve postponed the festival to 2021 and believe that the vaccine will be discovered and all restrictions will remain only in our memories. But because of this situation we’ve understood that our partners and team are the people we will not fear anything with. We’ve felt huge support from everybody.

Because of the quarantine we’ve developed a budget-optimizing plan, so that festival attendants will not be affected. Also we found the time to develop the projects, which we hadn’t had time before for. So, in case of this situation happening again, we’re ready to handle it. But still we hope it never happens again :) 

What do you see changing in the music industry with the impact the virus has had?

We expect a surge in demand for local artists in every country. The touring schedule of foreign artists has undergone very big changes and their booking will be complicated. Already, many concerts have been postponed to the fall or even spring of 2021.

In addition, it is unlikely that by that time in Ukraine the ban on the mass events will be lifted, the borders between countries will be opened, and international communication will be completely restored. Therefore, the main focus of the audience will be switched to local artists, which will be a good opportunity for them to maximize their exposure to their audience and earn new fans.

As music trends roll, do you have any predictions of what's coming next? From your point of view, where is the live music industry headed?

During the quarantine period, big bets were made on online concerts.

But nothing can replace the emotions received from the interaction with the artist in a live performance.

We already see a loss of interest to online format. This is rather a temporary alternative than an attempt of a revolution in the industry. This is evidenced by the fact that even after the announcement of the postponement and the uncertainty with the line-up, people still continue to buy tickets for Atlas Weekend. Which, of course, makes us very happy and encourages us to continue doing the festival.

We are sure that the live concert format will be back. People are hungry for mass events and elementary live communication. Of course for some period of time there will be a large-crowd fear, but this will unlikely turn people completely away from cultural events.

EVAN MURRAY is Event Co-ordinator at Live at Heart, Newfoundland, Export Development Officer at Vision 360 (Canada) and Canadian Coordinator at Live at Heart, Sweden. He is also International Music Consultant at Wonderwall Media, India.