Much Ado About Jovanotti: The Jova Beach Party

Jovanotti has filled Italian beaches with his 2019 summer tour.

Jovanotti has filled Italian beaches with his 2019 summer tour

Walking the infinite walkways skirting the beaches of Lido degli Estensi, a seaside town near Ferrara, you arrive at a shack close to the sea. It is located on the sand, immediately after the old pier. Alessandro is the man who manages the place and sells ice creams and beverages to visitors. He has already spoken with the organizers of the Jova Beach Party, one of Italy’s biggest summer events conceived by Lorenzo Cherubini, also known as Jovanotti or just Jova. 

They have already sold twenty five thousands tickets. I do not know where we are going to put all those people, says Alessandro. As for what I’ll do, I’m going to keep it simple. I will sell only water, cokes and beers. Nothing else, otherwise it’s going to be infeasible” he continues.

But if we set aside all sorts of practical difficulties, there is another big concern surrounding the idea of a natural, non-urban place waiting to host a massive event like the Jova Beach Party: the impact of this festival on the beaches for one day’s fun.

Imagine a large stage overlooked by big screens, scores of sponsored tents and stands, refreshment zones and play areas. This is how the party looks like — almost like a village. Now think of how much work will be put into creating all these structures of out plain sand, and how much the construction will alter both the local flora and fauna.

The trinity of disputes  

Alessandro is not the only person that is talking about Jovanotti’s tour. As a matter of fact, this chain of concerts is attracting a lot of controversies. Italian media touched on three key issues that have emerged with the setting up of the numerous Jova Beach Party venues: unpaid work, disturbance of peace, and the endangerment of animal species.

How are these three matters related? Let’s g through them one by one.

Unpaid Work

Sadly, this has become a recurrent problem within the Italian society. Loads of recent graduates and young professionals choose nowadays to work without pay in order to learn new skills. In 2015, the Ombellico del Mondo singer said that working for free at big events is possible, if it’s to gain experience.

To be fair, the artist was referring only to the music industry, and stressed that in the United States and Argentina there were plenty of volunteers behind the organization of big musical events. In this particular case, Jovanotti was trying to see the good side of it, namely the cultural baggage that a young person can develop after experiencing firsthand the world of the music industry right from the inside.

However, a new sensibility around this concern is emerging, and not just in Italy. Not too long ago, US Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted on her Instagram account a video in which she affirms that experience doesn’t pay the bills. Although I’m sure this statement has nothing to do with Jovanotti’s summer tour, it still seems a reasonable answer to the well-constructed speech of the Italian rapper and popstar. 

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Next time someone tries to pay you in “experience” & “exposure,” tell them this. ⬆️ . #PayOurInterns

Un post condiviso da Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@ocasio2018) in data:

The people behind the Jova Beach Party have vowed to safeguard the shores and dunes where the tour dates would have taken place. And honestly this is an appreciable thought on their side. Therefore, to keep their word, organizers came up with an initiative that would have pleased both fans and environmentalists: volunteers would have cleaned up the show’s sandy area in return for a free ticket, a bonus meal and a gadget.

Yet, if you look at it, this remains unpaid work, definitely. The new generation cannot accept to sustain a remunerative industry without receiving the due and fair payment. Therefore it goes without saying that the paradigm needs to be changed. 

Disturbance of peace

We are all familiar with the expression silence is golden, and in a noisy, fast-paced society like the one we live in, being surrounded by nothing but peace and quiet takes on a sacred value. Since calm can be hard to find in touristy coastal areas, many Italians prefer fleeing crowded beaches and seek refuge on our beautiful mountains. Alas, in one occasion, their plans to pursue serenity at high altitudes have fallen through.

Jovanotti has in fact decided to schedule a date of his summer show on Plan de Corones, a mountain of the Dolomites mountains in northeastern Italy that goes also by the name of Kronplatz.

Plan de Corones. Photo by Hans-Peter Schraffl

Famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner criticized the idea and told the press, “I cannot forbid it, but if I could, I would.” He explained his stance to La Repubblica newspaper: “I don’t judge Jovanotti as an artist, I don’t know him well, but I find it senseless to hold a concert on the top of our mountain during the summer. It is an unnecessary thing. If I were the only owner of Plan de Corones, I would not authorize nor ever organize here such a concert.”

The alpinist, who is the first man to climb Mount Everest without the use of artificial oxygen, knows quite much about mountains and what they represent to individuals enjoying their landscape. In his book called Salvate le Alpi (Save the Alps), Messner wrote that “mountains are a gift to us all and we have to respect them for what they are: a reserve of water and quietness, a free place where people can devote time to take care of their spirit.”

He went on expressing his resentment towards the event and told Jovanotti that people “go to the mountains looking for silence,” and that such a setting needs to be defended by an approach that brings noise and masses in those places.   

Endangerment of animal species

The Kentish plover is a small, protected bird that breeds on Italian shorelines. Coasts are its natural habitat, and any sort of impact on them could seriously compromise the reproduction of this tiny feathered creature. 

This argument has been used by the protesting No Party di Torre Flavia committee against one of the Jova Beach Party dates, namely the one scheduled on the beach of Torre Flavia, near the town of Ladispoli. Although said coastal area is located quite far away from the bird’s protected zone, Jovanotti and his tour organizers eventually cancelled the show to avoid further issues with the local community. 

The Italian innate need of polemics

Italy has always been a country able to criticize itself. It has always noticed more its dark side, even when it was not needed. When something proper or good happens, the average Italian twists his or her nose.

If you look at the Jova Beach Party, this has probably happened because someone might have been jealous of him being ‘that singer’. All things considered, if a person has the capacity of setting up a great event that might attract tens of thousands of enthusiastic people, he needs to pay back for the alleged luck he has had, and pay that bill in some way. If not, unleash all the criticism you can think of. And that’s more or less what has occurred.

The overall intention of Jovanotti is positive, and such attitude is reflected in the fact that the preparation of the tour has been carried out in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Volunteers cleaned the beaches following a training by WWF personnel.

Nonetheless, as explained above, mistakes were made despite the support of such an influential organization. So, touching on all those voices who have expressed disapproval in regards to the tour, I understand where the polemics triggered by the Jova Beach Party come from, and I agree with them. In the end I am Italian, and I strongly welcome the presence of caretakers safeguarding our national system. 

Messner, as well as all the journalists who have spoken about unpaid labor, and the environmental activists, they are all functional to the proper democratic action of the Italian social structure. They are perfect sentries and should be blessed for speaking out their concerns.

However, I guess we are just blaming the wrong guy. Of course, Jovanotti should have set the example. He should have behaved in an even better way. But the problem of unpaid workers as well as all the environmental issues are not going to be solved by blaming a popstar. I guess that this vicissitude can be resumed by a well-intended artist who has clashed against the difficulties of the reality, as well as its entire complexity.

We need to roll up our sleeves so that we can find the real culprits. We need to become activists. We have to study and inform ourselves on how to actually change that very system that doesn’t work as it should. And we should go against all those high-profile personalities that actually hold the key of power in Italy and do as they please no matter what.