One of the world's biggest festivals, Rock in Rio, opens in recession-hit Spain this week vowing to defy the misery of austerity with rock, and food.
"We spent two days collecting food and in return we gave people tickets to Rock in Rio," said Pablo Rodriguez, mayor of Arganda del Rey, the town southeast of Madrid where the festival venue, the man-made "City of Rock", rises amid parched yellow fields.
The food donations supplied branches of the charities Caritas and the Red Cross for their local programmes to help the needy.
"We gathered 15 tonnes of non-perishable food like sugar and oil -- more food than we had asked for," and gave out 3,000 tickets to the festival in return, Rodriguez added.
More than 8,000 people will work at the festival, spread over four days between June 30 and July 7, organisers say.
The mayor said it has packed out Arganda's hotels and made business for local suppliers who provided materials to build the City of Rock, a 200,000-square metre expanse with two stages, shop stands and a Ferris wheel.
"It is much more difficult at the moment. Fewer tickets are sold, there are fewer sponsors," said Roberto Medina, the Brazilian entrepreneur who founded Rock in Rio.
"But a festival like this is not only about seeing the great groups that are going to play and the happiness of the people who come. It's more than that," he added. "We are talking about all the people employed here."
Organisers say the festival has 25 million euros ($31 million) of investment.
Launching the event on Wednesday, Medina posed for photos with corporate partners on the terrace of the VIP lounge, overlooking the huge main stage with its facade of shiny sheet metal, where technicians were preparing masses of sound equipment.
Rock in Rio, founded with a mission to champion development, says it has given 11.6 million euros to social and environmental causes over the past decade and this year is backing a campaign for girls' rights by international children's charity PLAN.
During the festival teenagers from deprived suburbs of Madrid, trained by professional volunteers, will interview and film performers and spectators, making reports to be screened on-site.
"Training these children who are at risk of social exclusion as journalists helps them become aware that they have the right to be heard," said one of the organisers of the project, Tabata Peregrin of PLAN.
"It makes them spokespeople for other children who do not have a voice."
Mayor Rodriguez says the festival has come at a crucial time for Arganda, which like many Spanish towns is suffering in a recession that has driven the national unemployment rate up to more than 24 percent.
Medina saw it also as a rock 'n' roll act of defiance against economic austerity and gloom.
"It seems like there's only bad news in Spain. As a Brazilian I have seen crises like this but ten times worse all my life. I think there's a lack of hope, mainly among the young in Spain," he said.
"We can contribute a bit by gathering more than 160,000 people here, singing and having a good time, and pass this image around the world."
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Source: AFP Global Edition