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June 12, 2024,

Iva Fišerová and Filip Košťálek: “Everyone experiences Colours in their own way”

Iva Fišerová and Filip Košťálek: “Everyone experiences Colours in their own way”

Both live and breathe for the Colours of Ostrava festival, even though one breathes the air in Prague and the other in Ostrava. Iva Fišerová as Marketing Director at Rockaway Arts, Filip Košťálek as the festival’s programme director. And both say that every year Colours is increasingly becoming more than just a classical music festival, if only because of the high level of comfort and convenience it offers visitors. “Quality is in our DNA,” they say. What do Iva and Filip consider the festival’s hidden treasure and why should visitors look forward to Meltingpot as much as to music stars? You’ll find out in this issue of Rockaway Insider.

What makes Colours of Ostrava a unique festival?

IVA FIŠEROVÁ (MARKETING DIRECTOR ROCKAWAY ARTS): For me, it’s not a festival but rather a four-day experience, a break from routine life and a journey to a place where everything is possible and where something always surprises you. From a practical perspective it’s a multi-genre festival with a programme that focuses not only on headliners but above all on people coming to discover new things and broaden their horizons. They don’t just come to see two or three big names; they come to be inspired and to have fun. The accompanying programme, such as the Meltingpot discussion forum or theatrical stages, is just as important as music. And another specific feature is the location, of course – the festival takes place at Lower Vítkovice, which is a unique place even in a pan-European context.

FILIP KOŠŤÁLEK (CREATIVE MANAGER COLOURS OF OSTRAVA): It’s the experience itself. Music is, of course, still the most important thing, but I daresay that the festival is one of the most comfortable and convenient in Europe. We’ve got excellent visitor facilities, everything is clean, everything is close by. The festival may be large, but if you want you can go up front and see a performer from a few metres away, or you can stay in the back and enjoy lots of personal space.
Something else that’s unique is Meltingpot; no other European festival has such a large discussion forum. This mix is what creates a unique environment for all visitors – it’s a broad spectrum comprising the youngest to the oldest, many families with children, with an absolutely relaxed, conflict-free atmosphere. And above all, everyone experiences Colours differently. We’ve got eight genre-based stages and every genre is completely different – some spend all four days at one stage, others go back and forth between stages, or spend the entire time at Meltingpot, while some just hang out with friends. None of these ways are better or worse. Everyone experiences the festival in their own way.

Why should people look forward to Meltingpot as much as to Colours?

IVA: The idea of Meltingpot is actually the same as the one behind Colours. To bring new topics and ideas to the Czech Republic. In the case of Meltingpot, this means scientists and speakers about whom we’ll be reading in the coming years and will be buying their books, for example on the subject of longevity or AI. The discussion forum is an excellent complement to the music programme and makes Colours a comprehensive event, where you’ll be happy to spend four days and won’t know where to go first, because you won’t want to miss out on anything – even if originally you just wanted to go see Lenny Kravitz (laughs).

FILIP: During the year, when we live our everyday lives, we receive lots of information and stimuli from the world around us, we change and are transformed without having enough time to stop and think, to check information, or to discuss it with someone. And Meltingpot is a unique opportunity to reconcile everything in oneself and confront one’s feelings, information, and opinions with people who really deal with these topics. It’s perhaps the only time during the year when people have the luxury of being able to focus on such things for four days in a row. Meltingpot is so varied that you can focus on just one specific topic, be it health, artificial intelligence, or international relations. But then there are people like me, for example, who want to know various things from various fields and literally load up on information, be inspired – Meltingpot is all of this. An finally: those who want to party will find a party. The important thing is to decide what you expect from the festival, and the festival will offer you exactly that.

Why does the festival try to highlight comfort for visitors?

IVA: Comfort and quality are part of our brand’s DNA. We don’t want discomfort to spoil a perfect experience. At the same time, we’re reacting to post-pandemic demands, when many people need to get used to being at large events again. We want everyone to feel comfortable and safe. This year, Colours will have an “anti-anxiety tent”, for example, providing psychological help and a place to rest for anyone who feels too overwhelmed.

FILIP: Good question. Because lots of people also go to festivals because of the discomfort – they actually look forward to “rolling around in the mud” (laughs), that’s simply part of the experience. Nevertheless, we think that once you invest your money and your time, you should be able to enjoy the event with the greatest convenience and comfort from all perspectives – and nothing should get in the way. That’s because most people see Colours as a vacation – and that’s how we see it too: in a clean environment with enough personal space. That can be hard to accomplish during a festival with 50,000 visitors, but I believe that one’s environment defines one’s behaviour. A common lesson is that if your home isn’t in order, you spend your entire day in chaos. And we have proof that Colours has no conflicts or problems with drunk people, on the contrary: the festival’s atmosphere spreads to all of Ostrava. Paradoxically, during the festival, the city actually enjoys a lower crime rate.
We consider Colours a cultural and social event; people dress a certain way, they want to step out of their everyday routine, be different, be themselves. And that’s precisely why we have to adapt the environment, too.

Who is Colours ideal for?

IVA: At Colours you’ll really find all generations and groups of people – from grannies to families with children to singles, who this year can take advantage of our festival dating service! It’s this colourful spectrum that makes the festival unique, and that’s something we don’t want to change. At the same time, however, we realize that every visitor has slightly different priorities. That’s why we also thought about different types of tickets. Aside from the usual festival pass for those who want to enjoy all four days, we also offer ISIC discounts for students or free weekend passes for seniors, for example. For those who don’t have time, we have one-day tickets, which are ideal for those who mainly want to see several of their favourite performing artists. And we also have something new: lots of visitors want to have more space for themselves, to enjoy luxury catering or to avoid lineups, which is why we’ve also introduced VIP tickets, both for the entire festival and for one day. We want all groups of visitors to be able to afford to come to the festival, which is why we try to offer customized tickets.

What sort of reputation does Colours of Ostrava have abroad?

FILIP: All year we visit festivals and conferences around the world, often we’re also invited as delegates and speakers on various panels. So we know that Colours is known in the music industry and the music scene, and therefore also the Czech Republic and Ostrava. When I was in Japan, a person came up to me and told me that they really love Colours and that he’s included it in his global festival guide. So, on the industry level it’s quite prominent, we’ve been doing the festival for a long time, we have a specific, precise approach to selecting bands: we mix the unknown with the known, and the bands themselves know that we provide absolutely top-notch services.
Another thing is how the public sees us, and the competition is huge, of course. But in recent times I’ve been encountering lots of people from Poland, who have more experience with Colours that I’d expected – they like it and many of them return. This trend is something we’d like to support, because we’re confident that not only Colours, but also Ostrava and the Czech Republic in general have lots to offer visitors from abroad. Some rankings and magazines, such as the Guardian, for example, which ranked us among 35 festivals to go see this year, are proof that we’re doing it right. They highlight the atmosphere and quality of production. The online version of Spain’s El País mentioned us as one of six reasons to visit the Czech Republic. We’re aware of the importance of what we’re doing and we know that we don’t represent just our festival, but also Ostrava and the entire country.

What is the festival’s true “hidden gem”?

IVA: For me, personally, it’s the bands you see in smaller letters on the posters (smiles). The band I’m looking forward the most is Khruangbin, who I’d fly to see perhaps anywhere in Europe and who this year played at Coachella, for example! Then there’s glamping at our Chill Village, which I think is really great. Having to take your own tent to the festival or worry about where you’ll stay in Ostrava are long since things of the past, and you and your whole family can stay in a cool, fully furnished teepee.

FILIP: The fact that Colours is actually also this hidden food festival. We update our selection of suppliers and booths every year and try to cater to all tastes. Aside from classical festival foods that you simply must have, Colours features various specialities, including vegan and vegetarian ones. Our partners’ presentations, which are an essential part of the festival, also offer quite a bit of fun and relaxation. I’m happy that every year we’re managing to improve on it, it doesn’t have to be purely just a disco like it often is at some festivals. Our partners understand that they have to have some places to sit and some added value – and visitors evidently like this.

What else makes Colours of Ostrava different from other festivals?

IVA: Colours is a pioneering festival that can’t be pigeonholed. Sometimes that pioneering approach doesn’t pay off for us, because we’re simply too far ahead of the curve and some bands we bring to the Czech Republic don’t become hugely popular here until several years later, such as is the case with Rosalia. Another thing is that the festival tries to stir things up a bit and combine incongruous elements. In the industrial environment of Lower Vítkovice you can, during the course of one day, listen to metal from Taiwan, attend a yoga and breathwork class, attend a lecture on AI, and in the evening listen to the non-binary star Sam Smith or to Lenny Kravitz.

FILIP: Come and see for yourself (smiles). A broad and varied range, attention to detail and depth, or the fact that from mid-morning throngs of people attend workshops and discussions and then take in the latest musical trends regardless of genre. All this takes place in a cultivated, open, and playful atmosphere. It’s a cultural event that exceeds the definition of the word “festival”.


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