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European festivals launch standard contract terms

YOUROPE, the European festivals organisation that has a membership of over 80 festivals across Europe, has announced that 22 of its members will be introducing standard artiste booking terms for the 2012 festival season. The new terms cover areas such as force majeure, cancellation, insurance, security, the use of pyrotechnics and lasers, noise limits, curfews and payment terms and are designed to set out basic standards that festivals and performers have to adhere to. The association also said it was introducing simplified booking contracts for emerging talent with General Secretary Christof Huber saying  “It was the wish of many of our members to create these Standard Terms for European festivals. It should make life easier for festivals as they will have standard terms for important topics, rather than a number of contract terms which they can’t fulfil“.

The standard terms resulted from a series of meetings in Hamburg, at Eurosonic in Groningen in the Netherlands and finally in London in March and YOUROPE were advised by UK lawyer and AGreenrFestival co-founder Ben Challis, and insurance broker James Dodds (Doodson Entertainment). Participating member festivals include Melt! (Germany), Exit (Serbia), Sziget (Hungary), Oya Festival (Norway), Open Air St Gallen (Switzerland), Italia Love Wave (Italty), Opener (Poland), Woodsrock (Poland), Rockwave (Greece), The Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), One Love Festival (Turkey) and Dia de la Music (Spain). Challis said  “I found it interesting that there was such widespread and legitimate concern amongst YOUROPE’s members about artiste contracts and in particular artiste riders, which often arrived at the last minute with demands that could never be met by a festival. If it was a matter of providing caviar, Stolichnaya, Bollinger and a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed, or puppies in an all white dressing room, it would be concern enough, but serious issues such as cancellation and force majuere are often now included in artiste riders on terms that have never been discussed, let alone agreed. I am sure the recent weather related tragedies in the USA and Belgium have focussed minds – and concerns over one-sided and inappropriate contract terms were repeatedly raised at the recent International Live Music Conference and the International Production Meeting in London. The new YOUROPE standard terms are designed to make it clear where responsibility lies, and in particular what each party is expected to take responsibility for and insure, on a fair and reasonable basis. ”