Full clubs and concert halls are unthinkable in times of the corona pandemic. Nevertheless, preparations for a big music festival are starting in Hamburg: The Beatles, Billie Eilish, the Rolling Stones, Die Ärzte and many others … will not appear on “No one comes, everyone joins” on May 12th. Because behind the fictitious event there is a fundraising event for the Hamburg cultural scene threatened by the Corona crisis. Initiator Lars Maier, founder of the “Mensch Hamburg” association and managing director of the PR agency “Gute Leude Fabrik”, explains how to organize a festival that does not take place at all.
ZEIT ONLINE: A music festival without music – how did you come up with this idea?
Lars Meier: The clubs are closed, concerts canceled, tickets expiring. Cultural workers and artists have been missing their income for months, and many livelihoods are threatened. I see all of this with great concern, especially since I myself am a music fan, appreciate the diverse Hamburg club scene and love to go to concerts, at least one a month. In view of the many cancellations, I thought: Why not consciously sell tickets for something that doesn’t exist? And collect donations with humor to support artists in difficult times? Crazy times need crazy ideas.
ZEIT ONLINE: How should that work?
Meier: We just advertise this festival as if it were real. With artists who do not perform, but call for donations in videos, we put the recorders online under the hashtag #keinerkommt. We also design large posters and hang them all over the city, but of course the focus is on digital. Tickets can now be ordered and printed out at Reservix.de, as a donation receipt and as a reminder. And on our side www.keinerkommt.de we also collect donations.
ZEIT ONLINE: How much does a ticket cost?
Meier: That is different. The normal price is 22 euros, in addition there are “lap cards” for up to 14 euros, as with football games for children. With a “VIP card” for 99 or 199 euros there is a personalized voice or video message from a band. Everyone who likes should be able to donate something, even if they don’t have that much money left.
ZEIT ONLINE: What sum should be raised?
Meier: I have no fixed goal in mind. But to get an idea of the amounts involved in this crisis, the following calculation is sufficient: Grosse Freiheit 36, one of the most legendary clubs in St. Pauli, has space for 1,600 guests. If we sell so many cards at the normal price, we get 35,200 euros. This money is currently completely eliminated for the organizers and artists, while they have to bear ongoing costs. So: 35,000 euros, not a bad benchmark.
ZEIT ONLINE: How are the donations distributed?
Meier: One third of the revenue is to be distributed to the private Hamburg theater and music stages, the Hamburg film industry and clubs. How exactly is decided by an eleven-member committee made up of representatives from these three areas. In any case, the money will be given transparently. And we would also like to consider freelance artists who may not be organized at all and therefore have a particularly difficult time.
ZEIT ONLINE: And do you believe that despite economic hardships, people have money left over for a donation in the shutdown?
Meier: Let’s stay with the example of the 1,600 cards: Sure, I am absolutely certain that we will sell them! This is certainly not an easy time, in addition to artists, many professional groups are having a hard time. I am aware of that. Nevertheless, it is precisely in this crisis, despite all the hardships, that it shows how much solidarity and willingness to help is slumbering in people. I have always been a great optimist – and now I am even more so.
ZEIT ONLINE: Some clubs and concert halls combine calls for donations with live streams online. Why are no streams planned for your festival?
Meier: I like the idea that this festival will vanish on May 12th – and that the idea and stories of the artists we tell during the campaign will be appreciated. First of all, I would like to help specifically to preserve the diversity of Hamburg’s culture. On the other hand, it is difficult to predict under what conditions concerts in May will even be possible.
ZEIT ONLINE: They advertise with the Beatles and Billie Eilish – but they never come. Not afraid of disappointed fans or angry managers?
ZEIT ONLINE: We deliberately exaggerate with the big names, so that everyone realizes: This is irony, this event does not take place! After all, we even put Abba on the line-up. How likely is it that they are celebrating their reunion in Hamburg now? The German artists are all actively involved in the campaign, some managers of the major acts have given me their okay by phone. And because we are not planning anything commercial, but a charity campaign, the advertising is also legally okay. Apart from that, I expect goodwill. After all, we’re trying to raise awareness of the need of artists.
ZEIT ONLINE: They call the whole thing “Solidarity Festival”.
Meier: Yes, because that’s what it’s about! We all experience massive restrictions, both geographically and financially. It is all the more important that we stick together now. During this time it shows how much art consoles and unites. The cultural scene of a city is the breeding ground for everything creative – we simply cannot allow it to get lost.
Transparency notice: In addition to the Hamburg local media, DIE ZEIT is also a media partner of the campaign.