UPDATE: While stats show that the average monthly wage is around €400, many Kosovars have commented and explained that the monthly wage is much lower since it is highly skewed by the income of the 1%. It would be more like €150-250.
Kosovo, the youngest country in Europe, is still finding its footing after the infamous war in the 1990s. Unemployment has dropped to 26.5%, which is considerably lower than the last quarter when it peaked at 30.6%. To put it into perspective, the U.S.’s unemployment rate is 3.8%.
While a portion of the population fled during the war, many have stayed. Today, they live isolated in the landlocked country where attaining a Visa (for America, specifically) can be near impossible. So, Kosovars live vicariously through their stars like Dua Lipa.
Most Kosovars are mainly just proud that one of them has succeeded and made it big. It’s inspirational! Many think, “Maybe I can be like her one day!” Or, they believe she can use her position to give back to the struggling country. As a Kosovar refugee, I’ll admit I’m guilty of both.
Dua Lipa has become a voice for Kosovo, but has yet to aid the country financially or charitably.
Until now -- maybe.
Dukagjin Lipa, her father, has put together a music festival in Pristina, Kosovo with Dua as one of the headliners.
“Our aim is to create a festival of a high standard, one that will put Prishtina and Kosovo on the music and festival map as a place that is worth visiting, a place that loves music and knows how to have fun,” reads the festival’s “about us” page.
Tickets are €75, or $86.93. While this may seem like nothing to us Americans grown used to saving up and dropping $400 for a music festival, the price offends many Kosovars.
“I’m not going to go in debt for a music festival,” says a Lipa fan and Pristina resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, half-jokingly.
Kosovo’s people feel cheated. For them, €75 is not cheap! The average monthly wage in Kosovo is €476 (or $551.99) compared to America’s average monthly wage of $3,714. Of course, the cost of living wildly differs from the U.S., but most Kosovars still do not have the American privilege of wasting a significant amount of money on music festivals.
Vjosa Berisha, a recent graduate at the University of Pristina, recalls when she saw 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg, each for €20, in Kosovo. “I saw some of the world’s biggest artists for way cheaper. Also, I don’t have a job right now and there’s no way I’m going to ask my parents for the money.”
Moreover, the Lipas have also stated that 25% of the ticket sales will go towards the Sunny Hill Foundation, a charity they put together to help the youth of Kosovo in creative arts.
Unfortunately, the Sunny Hill Foundation has little to no information about the charity on its website and absolutely nothing under their projects page. Further research provided nothing more than summaries of the bare-minimum information from their website. The foundation has yet to reply when contacted.
In 2016, at the first Sunny Hill Foundation benefit show, Dua said, “We’re going to give to different charities every month for the youth of Kosovo.”
The anonymous fan, we'll call her Emma, on the other hand, said, “I spent €10 on that show in 2016 and two months later, Dukagjin Lipa got a Range Rover.”
Distrust and speculation from attendees like Emma is a noteworthy response to Lipa’s foundation. While there is no public proof of Dukagjin using the profit for self-indulgence, there is also no proof of the money from the show going to charities.
This festival could help Kosovo’s tourism in a big way, but not it’s people. The high ticket prices make them feel as if they’re being cheated by one of their own -- and the lack of valid details about the charity is not helping the Lipas’ case either.
Personally, I was initially so hype for the festival. I wouldn’t be in the country at the time but I was excited for what this festival could do for Kosovo. Maybe this could “put Kosovo on the festival map” but my excitement quickly turned to disappointment over ticket prices and this sketchy foundation.
It’s obvious the Sunny Hill Festival will not do much for the people that make up a huge portion of Dua’s fan base. Dua preaches about “never forgetting where you come from” but it seems she has forgotten everything unless it comes with a price-tag.
Story by Rrita Hashani.
Photo credit to Dua Lipa.