– Eric van Eerdenburg
IMPACT INTERNATIONAL: UK/EURO HONORS
Eric van Eerdenburg
Ready To Pick Up Where He Left Off
For a long while, it seemed like the Netherlands would lead mainland Europe’s reopening. Low infection rates in June and encouraging results from test events led the country’s health minister to open almost everything on June 26 for people having the necessary health proofs: restaurants, clubs, venues, theaters, even soccer stadiums and Formula 1 at two-thirds of their capacities. To encourage youngsters to get vaccinated, they were allowed to hit the clubs on the same night of getting the shot.
The testing sites couldn’t cope with the surge of revelers on opening night and, by July 9, infection rates went through the roof. The government reintroduced event restrictions, sealing the fate of the 2021 festival summer. No wonder Mojo Concerts’ Eric van Eerdenburg, festival director of A Campingflight To Lowlands Paradise, says he is “devastated.” He had been very optimistic that Lowlands would take place at full capacity in August, but calls the health ministers’ rushed reopening strategy a “capital mistake.”
Fieldlab Events, a coalition of event professionals, politicians and scientists, runs test events to come up with a health and safety framework for all kinds of live events. Van Eerdenburg has been in the thick of it. Fieldlab’s work had become “the benchmark of reopening the sector,” and van Eerdenburg, who usually keeps his distance from media, took every opportunity to shout about it. “The real work,” which he describes as “negotiating with government about reopening conditions and guarantee funds,” was done by Alliance of Eventmakers, which included Mojo’s co-CEO Ruben Brouwer and Head of Festivals Ronny Hooch Antink. “While they did their part, the Lowlands Festival team kept producing and preparing until the end of July. Everything was ready to go,” he explains.
Since 2000, van Eerdenburg has directed the festival, which is renowned for its eclectic program put on each year for some 60,000 visitors in a temporary city called Lowlands. The love for this event has been his greatest source of motivation during a crisis that taught him a few things: One, agencies and promoters can be “remarkably friendly to each other, which they have proven over the past one and a half years. Two, “politics are even more led by imagery and vanity than I already thought; crisis management is not their best quality.”
“What keeps me on my feet is seeing audiences craving live music and live entertainment,” he says. ”By the end of September,” he reckons, “I’m ready to pick up on where I left off.”