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MOST successful bridge-building across the Balkans and Europe

A singular project worth 4 million connecting the musical sector of the Balkans with European markets, MOST closes with striking success. The Hangvető-devised initiative with 10 partners ventured to give a boost to Balkan music via closer ties to Europe, setting it on a long-term path of wide-spread appreciation and professional success. The four-year project, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme, stands out as a new model for regional development, nurturing regional brand and identity and generating business through culture.

Skill development, network building and knowledge transfer were focal to the success of MOST. Apart from financial support, the project weighed in the professional network and expertise of Hangvető and all 10 partners – such as Piranha Arts – WOMEX, Exit Foundation, Bozar, Password Production, European Music Council, Bulgarian Music Association or Songlines – expanding the skillset and opportunities of four target groups addressed by the project’s four pillars in 9 Balkan countries. MOST reared a new generation of music professionals from the Balkans, at home in the informal and professional web of the European industry.

Balkan music, its rich heritage and exciting present, reached new audiences, reinforcing regional identity and confidence in turn. Scope countries included Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and non-Balkan European festivals as exchange partners. New export offices, cooperations, local urban initiatives and artistic output sprung up as a result of MOST, Balkan artists appearing on Western European stages became more common.

“MOST has had a manifold impact: one was on promotion and the creation of a really big network, secondly the visibility of Balkan music, which rose incredibly during the project period, it’s quite apparent.”

– Bojan Djordjevic

MOST was keen to highlight the beautiful cultural complexity of the region’s music, featuring artists from the experimental niches and groundbreaking trends of the scene. Breaking stereotypes, and rediscovering the Balkans was a key message, while honouring a wonderfully layered heritage.

“MOST allowed Balkan music to be diverse, rooted, forward-looking, displaying the creativity of the region.”

– Christine Semba, WOMEX

A Bosnian niche genre by definition, sevdah as played by Divanhana captured a crowd of 15.000 in London, bagging one of the most prestigious title in world music, the Songlines Award. Perija, a North Macedonian band originating as buskers are now moving across the globe with their music, and are booked by Eurosonic Festival.

The experimental electronica of E.U.E.R.P.I. and and tape-based live act of Lenhart Tapes got rave reviews and global bookings, the voice of Zarina Prvasevda is now known to all European professionals familiar with the scene. Individual career paths attest the success of MOST, but the project goes beyond that: it is a complex development model readily applicable in other regions.

“The MOST was a window of opportunities for us: it opened a space for us at new festivals, now we get invitations for some showcases, festivals abroad on a daily basis.”

– Rodjenice, Serbian band

This was partly the result of four years of systematic relationship building, joint work with festivals, concert organizers and professionals, and the consistent professional presence of MOST.

“The biggest achievement of MOST was to break the stereotypes binding Balkan music, and make it a fresh, trendy experience. The key was to work with not just artists, but all actors in the music sector, connecting them and offering chances to develop. We have forged a network of talented artists and capable professionals who are ready to act, and aren’t tied down by the hurdles of the past.”

– András Lelkes, CEO of Hangvető

Hangvető is intent on carrying further the project’s lessons and results representing Balkan artists. The professional network, the activated processes and skillsets will remain active, eyes set on future opportunities.

“This bridge can withstand a huge load, so you can see that it has solid pillars. Now, it can be loaded, loaded, loaded with many new creative ideas, artists, professionals and everything that world music means, and that is MOST between the people.”

– Login Kochishki, Password Production

MOST in numbers:

  • 500+ musicians, managers, bookers, representatives of clubs and festivals took part in the programme
  • 40+ videos were shot in the MOST framework
  • 3 CD compilations were published
  • 80+ showcase concerts impressed their audience
  • 12 urban projects in 8 countries involved their communities
  • 57 club and festival exchanges took place across 23 countries
  • 79 managers were trained, 20 traineeships enriched the parties involved
  • 7000+ visitors heard the freshest Balkan music at BALKAN:MOST Festival & Conference in cooperation with WOMEX

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