The region doesn’t have any festival heritage and the Baltic economy isn’t in the best shape, but Girts Majors believes the second edition of his Positivus Festival in Latvia will build on the foundation laid by the first.
In 2007 the two-day event pulled between 7,000 and 8,000 people to the seaside town of Salacgriva, where the River Salaca flows into the Baltic Sea at the Gulf Of Riga. Majors is hopeful that the 2008 gathering will attract twice as many.
"It was well-received and this year we have more stages and I think the bill is stronger", he said. The international acts will include Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Fatboy Slim and I’m From Barcelona, a 29-piece band from Sweden that’s proving to be one of the hits from this year’s European Talent Exchange Programme.
"We were very happy with last year but we need to sell tickets to avoid losing too much money", he explained, although the festival does have support of key sponsors including AB.LV Bank and Tele 2, the country’s major mobile phone network.
Positivus has expanded the site – an open sports ground enjoying wider use since the town built a new stadium for the local soccer team – to include three main stages and a handful of smaller ones to cater for theatre and a range of cultural activities.
Salacgriva is close enough to Estonia to attract fans across the border and this year’s festival aims to become more of a Baltic event by including a conference that should appeal to musicians and music industry people throughout the region.
Majors will chair a discussion on the festival itself, while conference organiser Guna Zucika will host another on the Latvian music scene.
Vaidas Stackevicius from MP3 Lithuania will be talking about the music business in his country, and Estonia will be represented by Paul Lilje from the local Music Export Office.
Eurosonic-Noorderslag creative director and ETEP co-founder Peter Smidt and Martin Pavlik from Serbia’s award-winning Exit Festival are among the international panelists who have already confirmed.