Seeing as foreign musicians are not in a mad rush to perform in Ukraine, domestic concert agencies are counting on local artists

Seeing as foreign musicians are not in a mad rush to perform in Ukraine, domestic concert agencies are counting on local artists
Photo: Ukrainian foto

For the concert segment of the entertainment market the year 2014 became a real test and not all its players were able to pass it. In the period from the middle of February until the end of May several dozens of events were cancelled or postponed for an undetermined period of time. At first artists did not risk coming to Ukraine and then ticket sales dropped. “Around 200 concerts, mainly of foreign and Russian stars, were cancelled in 2014 all around Ukraine,” Director of the Karabas tickets operator Dmytro Prykordonniy told Capital. “Besides the low profits there are also direct losses due to the annexation of Crimea and occupation of the east. Our losses are estimated at several million hryvnia.” In 2014, the turnover of Karabas dropped 1.5 times. Furthermore, the market in general shrunk tenfold, according Prykordonniy’s to assessments. “In spring and summer the market simply died,” agrees Olha Stelmashevska, Director of the PR company Del Arte, which among other things is involved in the organization of concerts. She assesses the market decline at 70%.

There was a slight revival on the market in autumn, but mainly thanks to performances of Ukrainian artists. Foreign stars on domestic stages are now singular cases: Goran Bregovic on November 22, Boris Grebenshchikov on December 14 and several other daredevils as market players label foreign artists.

Director of the Kharkiv agency Ovatsiya Maksym Maksymenko told Capital that compared to last year the number of foreign performers dropped by 90%. “The ratio of foreign artists and local artists in 2013 was 80% to 20%, while today this figure is the opposite. Local artists received carte blanche on the Ukrainian market and I think that many will try to benefit from this,” Director of the Concert Agency Perekryostok Yevhen Hlybin summed up.

Hurdle race

In the first half of the year the unstable situation in the country was the main obstacle to the development of the entertainment industry. Foreign ministries of some western countries advised their citizens to not visit Ukraine during that period. For this reason the tour of American guitar player and singer Allan Harris was postponed from April to autumn. Ark Ovrutski, a renowned musician and founder of International Jazz Subscription, was forced to make a six-month break in its operation.

The unstable rate of the national currency contributed to the situation in the country. “Organization of concerts in Ukraine is currently on the verge of recuperating, which means that no particular gains can be expected,” says Director of PMK Event Agency Dmytro Sydorenko, describing the current situation on the market. The reason is simple – at the current rate of dollar and euro the majority of people cannot afford to pay the market price of tickets in hryvnia. Sydorenko says event agencies are currently operating in a “survival regime”.

Not everybody will manage to survive. Two major players already left the market – National Corporation of Entertainment and NCA-Ukraine. The latter also failed to return money for the cancelled concerts of Nautilus Pompilius, Alisa and Mireille Mathieu. EEMC Ukraine and a number of small promoters in the regions also stopped operations, though nobody dares to estimate their exact number. On the one hand, only the strongest remained on the market. On the other hand, the sharp decrease in market players undermined the trust of both artists and people towards concert organizers.

Creative plans

Nonetheless, there is a demand for quality music projects. “Nothing affected our statistics. There are two-three thousand people in Kyiv who love jazz. They continue to attend live concerts,” says Ovrutski. His International Jazz Subscription plans three events, including one educational event for February, March and April of next year.

Other market players also have plans for the future, although they are not overly optimistic. “Clearly, with the current currency risks concerts of foreign artists are quite questionable. That is why my forecast is that 2015 will be the year of Ukrainian artists, just as 2014,” says Prykordonniy. Del Arte and the PMK Event Agency agree with this forecast. The former is planning a major project with Ukrainian stars. “We decided to bring no more than ten foreign artists in 2015. Now, we are fully concentrating on Ukrainian performers. As for musicians from Europe and the U.S., we have suspended all negotiations and are waiting for more favorable conditions,” says Sydorenko.

Most likely, the wait will be long. Full market recovery requires a peaceful environment in the country and three to five years of active work.

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