At Magnetic Fields Nomads, some answers for music festivals grappling with challenges of COVID-19 era – Firstpost

At Magnetic Fields Nomads, some answers for music festivals grappling with challenges of COVID-19 era – Firstpost
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At Magnetic Fields Nomads, some answers for music festivals grappling with challenges of COVID-19 era – Firstpost

At Magnetic Fields Nomads, some answers for music festivals grappling with challenges of COVID-19 era

When the Magnetic Fields neighborhood learnt of the primary-ever “Magnetic Fields Nomads Pageant” — a model of the occasion tailored for the COVID-19 era — going down in Ranthambore, Rajasthan, in March 2021, the information was met with delight and disbelief. Whereas the previous 12 months has stripped audiences of the alternatives to get pleasure from dwell occasions, festivals resembling Magnetic Fields are attempting new approaches that may function blueprints for others.

Let’s return to the beginning

It was in 2013 {that a} group of buddies got here collectively with an concept that had been on their minds for some time. Sarah Chawla, one of the founders of Wild Metropolis and Magnetic Fields, describes it as a sense that the pageant music scene in India on the time didn’t replicate or harness the unbelievable artistic power being witnessed within the sectors of music, occasions and design. Sarah’s definition of a music pageant — “a playground the place we get to immerse ourselves in friendship, music, discovery, journey and shock” — is simply what Magnetic Fields got here to be, arising out of discussions between Wild Metropolis, THOT Media, Kunal Lodhia, Smita Singh and Abhimanyu Alsisar, whose ancestral dwelling grew to become the occasion’s iconic venue. The heritage structure and conventional hospitality of Alisar Mahal juxtaposed with the modern and leading edge within the Indian (and worldwide) music scene, would come to encapsulate the quintessential Magnetic Fields expertise.


Above: Daytime view of Nahargarh Ranthambore property. All pictures © Polina Schapova.


Nash performing on the Ray-Ban Studios Den.

“There was a niche available in the market left by different festivals on the time, which have been primarily business, centered solely on music, and held in enormous open areas. We needed to create a extra intimate and immersive pageant expertise, which might concentrate on every kind of different artistic features, not solely on the music, including experiences resembling interactive artwork installations, dinner events, wellness workshops and so forth,” says Kunal Lodhia, co-founder and artistic director of Magnetic Fields. Eight years on, what began tentatively in 2013 with 350 attendees grew into India’s premier boutique pageant; the 2019 version of the pageant noticed 5,000 attendees over three days.

Niharika Jain, a Delhi-based mostly graphic designer who has attended each version of the Magnetic Fields pageant from 2014 onwards, noticed that dwell performances by world artists resembling 4 Tet, Teebs, Ratatat, Marabou State, Mala, Daisuke Tanabe was academic for Indian music lovers. DJ MoCity, a Delhi-based mostly DJ, radio host, promoter and label proprietor who has performed at each version of Magnetic Fields from 2014 onwards, in addition to at this 12 months’s Nomads pageant says that as “the primary location-pushed pageant in India, it grew to become a gateway for Indian audiences to find and discover the choice digital music scene, with its multidimensional music programming”. “Because the pageant expanded through the years, it continued to draw new folks, opening up entry to this privileged scene, inspiring different promoters and paving the best way for different festivals to spring up,” MoCity notes.


Seen right here: Peacock Membership entrance.

The COVID-19 conundrum, and past

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the dwell occasions business all over the world. A 12 months on, with many nations going through a number of waves of the pandemic and rolling out vaccination programmes at various speeds, we’re lastly beginning to see the primary tentative steps being taken in direction of a resurgence of dwell occasions.

In Europe, as half of a analysis undertaking wanting into the viability of internet hosting COVID-safe dwell occasions with mass attendance, two pilot occasions have been not too long ago held: a two-day music pageant in Biddinghuizen close to Amsterdam, attended by 1,500 folks; and a one-evening solely live performance in Barcelona attended by 5,000 folks — one of the biggest mass gatherings in Europe in over a 12 months. Each occasions have been intently monitored and required a COVID unfavourable check to enter. The Barcelona occasion concerned identical-day fast testing, whereas within the Dutch occasion, attendees have been geared up with movement sensors with a view to enable researchers to review group dynamics. All attendees have been made conscious of the dangers of taking part within the experiment and agreed that they might be examined within the days and weeks after the occasion to establish whether or not or not instances of COVID-19 have been being unfold because of this of pageant attendance. Whether it is established that COVID instances did not rise because of this, these pilot occasions may very well be used as fashions to pave the best way ahead for the resurgence of different COVID-secure dwell occasions all over the world.


Sundown view of the Nomads pageant venue.

Whereas vaccinations would be the solely viable approach to attend mass occasions, let’s take a fast have a look at the standing of main music festivals: Within the US, Coachella and Stage Coach have cancelled their 2021 editions; within the UK, the place practically 50 % of the inhabitants has acquired the primary dose, a number of festivals are heading in the right direction to open their doorways this summer time, albeit with COVID precautions in place. The Creamfields, Leeds, Studying, Isle of White and Wi-fi festivals are all nonetheless heading in the right direction for their 2021 editions. Glastonbury, which was initially cancelled for this 12 months, not too long ago introduced {that a} shorter, two-day version is likely to be thought-about in September.

Most festivals are at this stage contemplating a mixed method of permitting entry to anybody who can present a COVID unfavourable check, show that they’ve been vaccinated, or present proof that they’ve not too long ago had COVID and due to this fact, have antibodies. Timed and staggered entries of attendees; contactless ticketing and cost; efficient contact tracing; and reminders for masks carrying, sanitiser use and social distancing, are all measures that may very well be used.

As with any new drawback, novel options are required. Usually it’s smaller scale festivals, like Magnetic Fields, which might be capable of check out such revolutionary approaches to the issue to see what works.


On this picture: Artist Sachin Samson sketching Kaleekarma throughout her set on the Jameson Sundowner Stage.


A wellness workshop taught by Shalini Sarena in progress.

Nomadic transformation

After cancelling the 2020 version of Magnetic Fields because of the pandemic, the organisers introduced the primary-ever Nomads (as a result of it’s a ‘nomadic’ model of the unique) pageant for March 2021: a extra intimate iteration that strikes from one venue to a different, cherrypicks the very best of Magnetic Fields however on a a lot smaller scale and setting, to make sure a COVID-secure pageant expertise. The brand new location was the Nahargarh Ranthambore, and the quantity of folks (together with attendees, workers, crew and artists) was capped at 400. Everybody was to remain onsite by means of the pageant’s three days, and produce a unfavourable COVID PCR check report taken a most of 48 hours earlier than coming into the venue. Check stories have been validated by pageant workers, and if this might not be efficiently carried out, attendees could be turned away.

So what was the Nomads expertise truly like? It was extra relaxed and fewer hectic than its larger cousin; a extra sustainable approach of partying, appropriate for an viewers which has grown up alongside with Magnetic Fields over its eight-12 months journey.


Seen right here: Shantanu Pandit performing on the Peacock Membership.

Rahul Chhabb, an audio artist who is an element of the digital music outfit Regenerate (among the many performers at this 12 months’s pageant), felt Nomads confirmed that small scale festivals can — and do — work.

The trouble put into making the pageant COVID-secure was evident: Digital wrist band cost programs changed the earlier pageant foreign money; COVID security consciousness, pointers and protocol have been communicated by way of the web site, social media, and communicated personally to all attendees; and the pageant welcome equipment for attendees included reusable masks and hand sanitiser.


Above: Peacock Membership’s well-known disco ball.

Elizabeth Puranam, a journalist and first-time Magnetic Fields attendee, mentioned, “At no time did I really feel like I used to be in a crowd of folks, or in any approach unsafe, particularly since all actions occurred inside the pageant bubble.” She added that Nomads’ method in direction of pageant COVID security may very well be used as a mannequin for future occasions.

A report by UK Music expressed confidence that well being dangers may be managed at future festivals, however demanded that the UK authorities introduce and underwrite COVID cancellation insurance coverage with a view to present a security web of kinds for occasion organisers and inject a a lot-wanted enhance of confidence into the struggling dwell occasions business. Australian occasions firms are lobbying for the same authorities underwritten insurance coverage scheme. Whether or not or not governments step up stays to be seen; within the meantime, festivals the world over — like Magnetic Fields — will proceed to seek out the most secure paths ahead.

— Banner picture: Peter Cat Recording Co performing on the Peacock Membership.

Polina Schapova is a Mumbai-based mostly Russian-British photographer. Observe her work on Instagram or on her web site.

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