In the media

Eurovision Song Contest: ‘Open Up to the Future’


In 2020, the Eurovision Song Contest was supposed to take place in our home town of Rotterdam. Mothership was one of the parties invited by the city to submit a plan to put the ESC plus the city in the (inter)national spotlight. The challenge was to ‘Think Big’ and that’s what we did. We developed a concept that was big enough to attract worldwide attention.

But Covid-19 threw a spanner in the works and the contest was postponed until 2021. As the virus was still with us in 2021, the ESC organization asked us to adapt our concept in such a way that it still had a chance of being realized, despite constantly changing circumstances.

Many months lay between the drafting of the plan and its possible realization; in this period it was supposed to become clear whether singing together, with an audience, was even going to be possible.





There was a chance that the presence of an audience at the contest and in the public space would be undesirable. In our modified plan, we started from the worst possible scenario – after all, expanding and adding is more fun than reducing and cutting back. The ESC was going to be on, in whatever form.


In this situation, solidarity was especially important. The virus threatened to drive us apart, but we pointed to the resilience our city has shown for centuries.

Rotterdam once rose like a phoenix from the ashes: it’s a city that has recovered from a heavy blow before. The Erasmus Bridge that connects both parts of the city is the ultimate symbol of freedom regained: Rotterdam locals call it ‘the Swan’.

And Open Up to the Future also starts from freedom: the freedom to be who you are; to do what you want, to come together and celebrate. Openly and courageously, we faced that future together. We visualized this in a concept that consisted of three parts: ‘De aftelklok’ (The Countdown Clock), ‘De zwaan vliegt’ (The Swan Flies) and ‘Rock the Roof’.



The Countdown Clock


On the grounds next to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s new Depot, Mothership built an art installation that served as a countdown clock. Song Contest presenters Chantal Janzen, Edsilia Rombley and Nikkie de Jager started it together with Rotterdam Mayor Aboutaleb. From 11 February 2021, the clock counted down to the ESC final on 22 May.


Every day, from that hundredth day before the opening of the ESC, the panels that formed the numbers were moved manually. This moment was a daily PR opportunity. Just as it’s a great honour to ring the bell that opens the Wall Street Stock Exchange in New York in the morning, moving The Countdown Clock panels was a great opportunity for people to showcase themselves to the rest of the world. More than 100 parties took this opportunity, wearing scarves especially designed for the ESC, to move the clock panels and be photographed at that moment. The photos were used extensively as promotional material and are found all over social media.

In 2022, something identical is taking place in Almere, where a similar Countdown Clock has been set up to tick off the days before the start of the world-famous Floriade.