2012 has been a decidedly turbulent year for the UK festival scene, with all manner of drama and developments keeping us on the edge of our seats. While some events went by in a warm fuzzy glow of success, others were marred by catastrophe and economic woes. So as we hunker down for winter and look forward to the 2013 festival season, what are those busy festival fairies up to behind the scenes? Our scouts have been on the ground, sniffing out all the juicy gossip so you can stay fully informed about your favourite festivals. Check out our PAAM festival software round-up of the end of the 2012 festival season and 2013 festival news, and watch this space for more intriguing insights to come.
New-look Glastonbury Festival Dance Area set for 2013
The Dance Area is “going to have a whole new idea behind it” for Glastonbury 2013, according to Emily Eavis. In an interview with eFestivals, the Worthy Farm heiress said the team is currently brainstorming new options for the dedicated rave area, which first came to the festival in 1995.
“I think that’s going to have a whole new idea behind it. We’re in the middle of all that at the moment. But it’s all good, and we’re definitely in a good place and everyone is really fired-up about it” said Emily, adding that no concrete decisions have yet been made.
There has been talk of Arcadia moving into the Dance Area, but, as all ideas are still firmly on the drawing board, we’ll let you know more as we do…
Record Glastonbury Festival sell-out time and revenues
Shortly after 2013 tickets sold out in a record time of 1 hour and 40 minutes on October 7th, newly published accounts have shown that the ever-popular Glastonbury Festival has weathered the recession in style. In fact, since the financial crisis hit in 2008, revenues have shot up 36% and 5.2% between 2010 and 2011 alone. The Worthy Farm coffers have swelled from the £23.6m taken in 2008 to £32.2m in 2011.
Although directors Michael and Emily have always steered clear of too much commercial sponsorship, gross profits hit a staggering £22.5m in 2011. Michael is paid £50,000.00 for “loss of earnings” when the farm is rented out to the festival, while the highest paid director gets a cool £60,000.00.
The Big Chill Festival ‘to be reinvented’
Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, has hinted that The Big Chill Festival, which was cancelled this year due to poor ticket sales and a clash with the London Olympics, might be back in 2013 – although perhaps not as we know it.
“I’m sure something will return that will have a completely fresh take on what a festival should be,” he told BBC Newsbeat. “The Big Chill 2012 was a clash with the Olympics but, more importantly with The Big Chill, it was me not being absolutely certain where I wanted to take the festival and what I was doing with the festival.”.
Benn went on to say that he is due to visit the Herefordshire site shortly to reassess the options. “I’m actually going down there next week to the very same site to have a look,” he said. “I’ll go with a couple of people that I hope will be working with me on – not The Big Chill – it won’t necessarily be The Big Chill – but a replacement or something to be born out of that.”.
The festival, which has been held at Eastnor Catle in Ledbury since 1994, hosted the likes of Calvin Harris, The Chemical Brothers, Jessie J and Kanye West in 2011. Whatever comes next is likely to be epic in its own way, so watch this space for more news!
Guilfest goes into administration
We’re sad to announce that one of our favourite small festivals, Guilfest, has gone into administration after a particularly tough year. The family-orientated, low-key event has been highly regarded and well attended during its 21-year reign, but it seems it is no longer able to keep up with the ever-expanding festival pack.
A statement from the festival organisers read: “Scotty Events Ltd regret to announce that Guilfest has ceased to trade due to poor ticket sales at this year’s event in July. We assess that this was down to the worst weather conditions we have experienced in history of the festival, combined with intense competition presented this year from other events.”
It continues: “Tony Scott and the Guilfest team would like to extend their thanks to everybody who has been involved in working with the festival in its 21 years, the artists who performed and of course the thousands of attendees, without whom none of the events would have been possible. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to organise Guilfest and see it evolve into the renowned festival it has become.”
New stages planned for 2013 Reading and Leeds Festivals
Reading and Leeds Festival fans could be in for an extra special treat next year following suggestions that as many as three new stages could be added to the events. The festival organisers Festival Republic say they want to increase the number of stages from six to eight or even nine, in order to “add more music” to the event. Crowd capacity will, however, remain the same at the two sites, with this year’s festivals bringing 87,000 to Richfield Avenue in Reading and 75,000 to Bramham Park in Leeds.
Speaking to the BBC, Reading and Leeds organiser Melvin Benn said “Within those additional two or three stages there will be a lot more diversity of music. We’re changing the arena at Reading and Leeds quite significantly. I’ve got quite a strong buzz and feeling in myself in the changes that I’m making there. I’m still formulating the ideas.”
“There will quite a bit more dance music, quite a bit more other bits and pieces” Benn said, adding that he is hoping to announce at least one of the event’s headliners by Christmas 2012.
Live Nation ‘pulls out’ of Hyde Park tender
According to a report in The Guardian, Live Nation, the company behind Wireless Festival, Live 8 and Hard Rock calling, has pulled out of the “flawed” tender process to host gigs at London’s Hyde Park due to disputes over noise restrictions, “unrealistic revenue assumptions” and crowd safety.
Live Nation was largely given a free run of the central London park this year, adding BT London Live to its usual calendar of events. The company was also permitted to host a series of live shows during the Olympics featuring the likes of Snow Patrol, Duran Duran, Blur, Paolo Nutini, Stereophonics and The Specials.
However, the world’s biggest live music company was clearly as frustrated as the crowd when it was forced to pull the plug early on a legendary duet between Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney at this year’s Hard Rock Calling because the show went past its curfew time.
After Westminister Council ruled earlier in the year that Hyde Park concerts should be subject to smaller crowds and tighter noise restrictions, Live Nation reportedly wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Royal Parks Agency about the bidding process. It’s unclear whether or not the Live Nation move is simply a scare tactic, but it looks like some push and pull over the future of Hyde Park events is definitely on the cards.
MAMA Group helps All Tomorrows Parties out of a tight spot
The MAMA Group, which runs live music events including Global Gathering, Lovebox, The Great Escape and Vintage Festival, has confirmed that it is buying a 50 per cent stake in troubled event management company All Tomorrows Parties (ATP). Following the announcement earlier in the year that ATP had gone into liquidation but would continue to promote gigs under the company title WillWal, many worried that All Tomorrows Parties would become yesterday’s news.
However, the MAMA Group, owned by HMV, has come to the rescue, and the two companies will now work together on their huge portfolio of gigs. In exchange for ATP helping to book talent for MAMA gigs at Barfly Camden, G-A-Y, Jazz Café, The Garage and various HMV venues, the two event giants will collaborate on ATP’s self-titled holiday resort gigs and international festivals.
Speaking about the partnership to Music Week, MAMA Group CEO Dean James said, “Barry (Hogan, ATP founder) and Deborah (Kee Higgins, ATP organiser) run a fantastic business, and it is a real honour for us to be working with them. ATP’s pioneering attitude and its success in the international market, combined with MAMA’s infrastructure of major festivals and venues, is a dangerous combination.”
Calls for Isle of Wight Festival licence review
Aerospace firm GKN has called on Newport Parish Council to review the Isle of Wight Festival licence after the weather-related chaos seen at this year’s event. GKN, which rents land to the festival, is citing concerns about public safety after heavy rainfall at the June gathering saw the site’s car park rendered unusable and severe delays on roads around the island.
The company also stated that the festival could have easily descended into public disorder, as revellers were left stranded and emergency services were unable to function normally.
In its application for the licence review, GKN wrote: “It is accepted the weather conditions were poor. However, this is no justification for the lack of any clear or credible contingency planning by Solo Promoters (and the Isle of Wight Council) to address the bad weather, which caused unprecedented disruption and disorder to the traffic and travel network on the Island.”
“The overwhelming consensus of residents and businesses is that the festival does not contribute significantly to the local economy and will constitute an on-going public nuisance in its current form. GKN Aerospace, the residents and businesses of the Isle of Wight are now legitimately concerned that if the licence granted to Solo Promoters is not revoked, or at the very lease reviewed and conditioned, any future festival will continue to cause public nuisance and has real potential to cause crime, disorder and a threat to public safety.”
A public consultation is open for comment until November 1. Festival organiser Solo Promoters has so far declined to comment.
Festival No.6 to return in 2013 after amazing debut reviews
The organisers of Festival No.6, which debuted in Portmerion, Wales, last month, have announced that the event will return in 2013 following its overwhelming success. The music and culture festival pulled in a jaw-dropping line-up in its first year, including Primal Scream, New Order and Spiritualized.
The three-day event, which also featured comedy, film screenings and readings, was given a firm thumbs up from both festival goers and critics. Festival No.6 has been nominated in three separate categories for this year’s UK Festival Awards: Best Headline Performance (for New Order), Best Small Festival, and Best New Festival.
Festival organiser Gareth Cooper said: “We always knew we had something pretty special on our hands with Portmeirion hosting Festival No.6, but the response from everybody involved has absolutely blown us away. We surpassed our own expectations and the reviews have been out of this world. We’re extremely proud and excited to be bringing it back next year with more world-class bands and entertainment. I can guarantee it will be another astounding occasion.”
In our next PAAM post, we will be sharing all the news and rumours about who is set to play where at 2013 festivals – so keep your eyes on our blog for more 2013 festival updates!