ETEP’s New Bid For Euro Cash

The European Talent Exchange Programme is making a new bid for EU support, which could result in it setting up a similar scheme for the former Eastern Bloc countries.

It’s not known how much money ETEP is asking for, but Pollstar understands it would be enough for the scheme to increase the number of participating festivals from 60 to 100, bolster the subsidies the festivals receive when booking an act, set up a similar scheme – the Central European Talent Exchange Programme (CETEP) – and provide a cash pool for a European Tour Support scheme.

The paperwork would need to be with the European Commission (EC) by Oct. 1, although it’s unlikely ETEP will get an answer before early next spring.

ETEP is in its seventh year and has just helped 71 acts find more than 200 European festival shows during the course of this summer.

Each year at least 200 acts play a showcase festival in Groningen, The Netherlands, when outdoor event bookers turn up in droves to mull over the best of emerging European talent. It costs euro 1,000 to join the ETEP scheme, although that’s repaid in the form of a subsidy when a festival books an act. If it books a second act, then it gets a further subsidy of euro 500.

Eurosonic creative director Peter Smidt and ETEP organiser Ruud Berends are believed to want to allow each festival to choose three acts and receive a euro 1,000 subsidy for each of them.

The Dutch government helped finance the 2003 launch, although it made it clear that the responsibility for future funding should lie with Europe.

It also helped ETEP secure euro 140,000 of EU cash per year for three years, but it was a pilot initiative and was not renewed.
Since it lost its EC cash ETEP has survived because of the belief and collective support of various European music offices, ministries of culture and rights organisations.

ETEP may not have fit into any of the European cultural programmes, but there are reasons to believe there may be a change of mindset among the EU cultural bosses and the new funding application may be successful.

At the Eurosonic-Noorderslag weekend in January, Vladimir Sucha, the EC director of culture and communication, struggled for an answer when asked why ETEP isn’t receiving EU funding.

This year, Ján Figel – European commissioner for education, training and culture – also dropped into Groningen for Eurosonic-Noorderslag, en route to a “private meeting” with the independent music companies at MIDEM, who were no doubt waiting to beat him up over some aspect of Sony-BMG.

Smidt, a sort of Flying Dutchman among European parliamentary lobbyists, was pleased to see so many politicians bothering to come and check out the event for themselves.

But perhaps the biggest coup at Eurosonic 2009 was the arrival of the European Border Breakers Awards, an EC-sponsored event that honours artists that sell records outside their national borders.

ETEP helps acts play festival shows outside of their national borders, and the parallel between the EBBAs and what Smidt, Berends and others are trying to achieve is too obvious to be missed. The EBBAs were previously staged at MIDEM.

Six of the 10 winners of the 2009 EBBAs, The Ting Tings, Lykke Li, The Dø, AaRon, Alphabeat, and Kraak & Smaak, all played at last year’s ETEP.

The CETEP part of the proposal, which has been put together by Hungarian Music Export office chief Fruzsina Szep, who now combines that role with being a programme director at Sziget Festival, is to help acts from the old Eastern Bloc develop their careers throughout the region.

With the help of festivals that are already part of the ETEP scheme, which include B’Estival (Romania), Exit Festival (Serbia), Heineken Open’er (Poland), and Sziget, the idea is to try to give acts more festival opportunities and hopefully create a touring circuit. It’s hoped more details can be thrashed out at a meeting in Budapest at the beginning of October.