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EXIT Festival has sent a message of ‘hope and unity’ at the first official event following the end of lockdown in Serbia.

The festival joined forces with popular local actors and musicians to celebrate Victory Day, with several internationally acclaimed DJs playing for a crowd of just 50 people in a Dance Arena moat at the Petrovaradin Fortress, an 18th-century venue that usually hosts over 50,000 visitors per day during EXIT Festival.

The event was organised in collaboration with the national creative industries platform Serbia Creates. Just two days before the event took place, the Serbian government officially ended the state of emergency, and entered into the reopening phase after several weeks of lockdown that included police curfews, some of which even lasted for 84 hours.

The reason for the invite-only event was not just to mark Victory Day and the end of the state of emergency, but to ‘celebrate life in general’, with all the attendees helping to ‘spread the message of hope and unity’. Attendees came together to form a large number ‘1’ by raising large banners with EXIT’s core values (love, unity, freedom and revolution) in the festival’s red and white logo. Inspiration for this aerial image came from the lyrics of the song ‘We Come 1’ by British band Faithless, who have previously played at EXIT.

EXIT’s Founder, Dušan Kovačević, said: “We gathered here at the EXIT’s magical home, the Petrovaradin Fortress, to send a message of hope and optimism to the whole world that we will win this battle united. The health crisis is slowly moving behind us, but there are still many obstacles such as the economic consequences.

“We have to preserve events and festivals not just for the sake of the economic and tourism benefits that they are bringing. Events serve a much more meaningful purpose; they are one of the spices that make life worth living. People gather and connect, ideas are shared, friendships forged and last for a lifetime. We get this all the time, people tell us how EXIT changed their life.

“Our festival started as an exit from the isolation and civil wars that former Yugoslavia had in the ’90s, but now the whole world needs to be united in order to exit from this huge crisis.“

During the state of emergency in Serbia, EXIT stopped all promotion and rerouted all resources into socially responsible activities, including the regional Super Neighbour campaign that called on volunteers to help elderly and vulnerable people in their communities. EXIT also launched its own online TV program that premiered never before seen shows from the festivals each day. Since the health and safety of all those who attend and work at the festival was a top priority, the EXIT team will be monitoring the health situation on a daily basis, and the decision on postponing the festival will be made in accordance with any future official government measures in the following period.

In next few weeks, a Fortress Stream will be broadcasted on Exit Festival’s official Facebook page, which will feature performances by artists performed at the Petrovaradin Fortress, including Runy, Kristijan Molnar, Marko Nastic, Lazar Nikolic and Miroslav Miletic.