Song festival in Italian, with Dutch sauce: ‘Improvise a little more’

How do you organize the biggest television show in Europe in less than a year? After winning the Eurovision Song Contest, that is the issue that the public broadcaster of the winning country is ‘stuck with’. The aim was invariably: to reinvent the Eurovision wheel, and that every year again.

That had to be done differently, the Dutch organization thought last year. After Duncan Laurence’s win in 2019, it turned out that there was hardly a script ready for organizing the event, so the organization set itself the goal of laying down a blueprint for future organizations.

That was “partially” successful, says Sietse Bakker a year later, with the final tomorrow in Turin, Italy. Bakker was ultimately responsible for the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam. Now he is in Turin on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Bakker: “When I arrived here, I knew my way around almost immediately. The layout is exactly the same as in Rotterdam Ahoy. The Italians were inspired by that.”

Dutch behind the scenes

In other areas, making a blueprint is less successful, says Bakker. “Last year we were practically in a lockdown and even now we are still in a kind of twilight zone.” According to him, it is therefore still not the Eurovision Song Contest “as the viewer is normally used to”.

What is striking is that many Dutch people are working behind the scenes in Italy, also in important positions. Think of technicians for the light and sound, producers who supervise the acts, the head of technical production and the ‘referee’ of the Eurovision Song Contest; they all come from the Netherlands and they also participated in the event in Rotterdam last year.

The Dutch Samya Hafsaoui also has a prominent role in the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, as she shows in this video: