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Đorđe Milutinović, Štark Arena Advisor

The Promoter

Placido Domingo, Sting, Jose Carreras, Nick Cave, Nigel Kennedy, Tom Jones, BB King, Chick Korea, Paco de Lucia, Ray Charles, James Brown, Julio Iglesias, Leonard Cohen, Alicia Keys, Bryan Ferry, Joe Cocker…these are just some of the hundreds of foreign and local artists that I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of promoting in Belgrade during past decades working as the head of the Sava Centre concert agency and director of the Belgrade Arena

I also organised and implemented around another 1,000 concerts as director of youth culture and arts society “Ivo Lola Ribar”’, for choirs, folklore and the theatre “Teatar Levo”, and I’ve also performed in around a 1,000 concerts as a member of the Ivo Lola Ribar choir during the 20 years that I sang in what was then one of Yugoslavia’s best choirs.

Culture took me “under its wing” with my arrival at the Ivo Lola Ribar choir in 1970, during my transition from high school to university.

I later became a translator for the Belgrade Youth Centre at the cult Newport- Belgrade Jazz Festivals and the FEST programmes that were held at the Youth Centre, as well as a large number of concerts.

I worked for a concert agency “Jugokoncert” as a touring artist, travelling across Yugoslavia with several folklore ensembles (from the Philippines, India, Colombia).

These experiences all provided an excellent foundation for my further work, which could be called promotional work and which required familiarity with the market, timely and high-quality preparations, respect for contractual provisions, minimising unplanned risk factors, respect for artists and the audience – concert attendees and lots of seemingly small but important details that are part of successful negotiations and subsequent good event organisation and implementation.

Good professional relations are something I’ve nurtured. Even today, when some booking agents around the world are contacted by someone who offers to promote their artist in Belgrade they say “I have a reliable promoter who I work with there”.

Even today, when some booking agents around the world are contacted by someone who offers to promote their artist in Belgrade they say “I have a reliable promoter who I work with there”

The overall business picture, of course, is not so idyllic, because dealing with concert promotions is a very complex and risky business that’s dependent on many factors, such as artists’ fees, organisational costs, changing audience tastes, ticket price etc.

Artists’ fees, especially in the last decade, have skyrocketed and, as things stand, they don’t seem to be returning to the ground.

It perhaps sounds like an often-used phrase, but in my experience culture really is a bridge for connecting people and creating familiarity and understanding among people, life, customs, religion, ways of thinking.

Supporting this claim are my many personal experiences from the biggest tours with my choir: China in 1972, as the first artistic group to tour after the Cultural Revolution; 1988 with CAMI (Columbia Artists Management), three-month tour around the U.S., including 57 concerts, 27,000 km by bus, 32 states; as well as several tours of the USSR and Russia, and literally the whole of Europe.

These are priceless experiences and memories, and confirmation that it was a culture which opened some doors that weren’t merely closed – we didn’t even know they existed.

Culture is a sensitive area; there’s never a shortage of ideas, possibilities and wants, but always a shortage of resources to realise all those wants.

I naturally have some unrealised wishes and regret the inability to stage some concerts. The biggest is certainly the Rolling Stones concert that was confirmed for me on 8th September 1998 at the Belgrade Hippodrome. However, the political situation worsened during that period and unfortunately, that concert didn’t happen.

Each of the aforementioned 2,000 concerts has their own place in the beautiful and, to me, a dear mosaic that I had the professional good fortune to be able to create and of which I am very proud.

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