Eurovision 2020: Sietse Bakker sheds more light on the Host City Bid process

by Sanjay (Sergio) Jiandani 2,569 views

The Executive Producer Event of Eurovision 2020, Mr. Sietse Bakker, has shed more light on the on going ESC 2020 Host City race and on how hosting the competition is a win win project for the host city.

Sietse Bakker (ESC 2020 Executive Producer Event) gave an exclusive interview to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf where he spoke about the 2020 Eurovision preparations and the Host City Bid process.

With the clock ticking and little less than 48 hours left for the five candidate host cities to submit their respective bid books to the 2020 Eurovision Organizing Body ( NPO, NOS, AVROTROS), it is getting more and more exciting in the Netherlands with speculation growing in the local media on the potential host city.

Once the bids are submitted, the organizing body will evaluate all submitted proposals and make their choice based on the rules and regulations set by the EBU, thus the potential host city has to meet all the conditions set in the so called bid book.

Hosting the Eurovision Song Contest comes with a hefty cost for the host city but also brings a lot of long term benefits such as thousands of tourists, international exposure both for the city and the country on the whole.

Sietse Bakker will be also playing a key role in the 2020 Eurovision Host City selection along with NPO, AVROTROS and NOS. Last week, Bakker was appointed as one of the four Executive Producers of the 2020 Eurovision edition, scheduled to be held in the Netherlands next May.  He has been involved in the Eurovision Song Contest for many years,  having worked as the Event Supervisor.

Going Dutch

Sietse Bakker says:

Our goal is to let the whole of the Netherlands experience the Eurovision Song Contest and to use the Dutch creative industry and technical knowledge for the Song Contest in 2020. We want to make a Dutch mark next year.

Throughout the years we have seen many Dutch professionals and technicians involved in the production of the competition.

An extensive bidbook

The potential host city and venue must meet the requirements of an extensive bidbook: there must be at least around forty dressing rooms in the immediate vicinity of the venue for all the participants, plus the ones for the presenters and the interval acts.

Bakker adds:

If an entire orchestra or, for example, a dance group has to come on stage in the Netherlands, just like in Vienna, you need more dressing rooms.

There should also be a press center for hundreds of journalists, with rooms for interviewing and giving press conferences. This means that not every venue is suitable. 

Moreover, the location must be available for seven or eight weeks for the Eurovision Song Contest. Why so long? Approximately 130 trucks with light,  technology and stage parts are required. All of this must go inside. This involves a vast logistical installation, which requires many days of workmanship.

Then the set-up follows, the installation of camera technology and technical rehearsals. 

When the participating countries arrive, the rehearsals begin. Followed by the main Eurovision week.

Ceiling size is crucial

The ceiling in a Eurovision venue must at least be between 15 – 20 meters high. There are only a few venues in the Netherlands that meet these requirements. The venue in Tel Aviv was 17 meters high this year.

Sietse comments:

With an eight meters high ceiling it becomes quite difficult. It is too low if you know how much light and ventilation is required underneath the stage. However, by being creative, one can go in many directions.

No preference on venue

Bakker has no preference regarding the potential venues in race vying to organize the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest in the Netherlands:

It’s possible in a stadium-like setting , but also in a sports venue or a conference center. In Copenhagen it was organized in 2014 in a derelict shipyard . The roof was leaking when we visited for the first time, but the Eurovision Song Contest eventually took place there.

Hefty cost

Organizing the competition entails that a host citiy has to contribute a hefty sum of money in order to hold the competition.

Bakker comments:

Host cities have invested from 5- 15 million euros  in order to organize Eurovision Song Contest in recent years.

A win a win project

The executive producer calls the host city  ‘One of big annual winners of the Eurovision Song Contest‘:

Thousands of visitors arrive in the host city and spend their money during their stay. There are many things in which the city plays a key role, such as the official  Opening Ceremony of the event, the Red Carpet etc.

Another important aspect is the city branding and visuals, the name of the city appears on the logo throughout the continent and beyond during the Eurovision period. Thus all these things make it appropiate  for a city to invest in the Eurovsion Song Contest.

The organization of the event costs roughly 30 million euros. Yet a host city can sometimes get into a financial soup, such was the case with Copenhagen in 2004 who has suffered from organizing the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest for many years.

Bakker says:

Things went wrong in the organization on the side of the city. As a result, they had not reserved sufficient financial resources to meet their obligations. Here is a lesson to be learned: there must be good cooperation and a good relationship of trust between broadcaster and city.

EBU to have final the word

After the three Dutch public broadcasters deliberate the 2020 Eurovision Host City based on the submitted bidbooks, the final decision to determine the 2020 ESC Host City will lie entirely in the hands of the EBU, who is responsible on approving or dissaproving the choice.

Sietse Bakker is one of the four executive producers who have been working since this week to make the Eurovision Song Contest a success in Netherlands.  Emilie Sickinghe, Inge van de Weerd and Jessica Stam are the other three appointed executive producers of the show.

The four Eurovision 2020 Executive Producers (Photo Credit: NPO)

A total of five cities remain in the 2020 Host City race: Rotterdam, Maastricht, Arnhem, Den Bosch and Utrecht.

The deadline for cities to officially submit their bidbooks to NPO/AVROTROS/ NOS has been set on Wednesday 10 July 2020. The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest is expected to be officially announced in August.