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Tramlines agrees to crowdfunded takeover bid

A £1.2m offer for the Sheffield event has been accepted by Tramlines Events, says Music City Foundation, which wants to "buy back the festival for the people"

By Jon Chapple on 07 Apr 2017

Tramlines Festival 2015, The Charlatans

The Charlatans on the main stage at Tramlines Festival 2015


image © Carolina Faruolo (www.cfaruolo.com) for Tramlines

Tramlines Events Ltd, the promoter behind Tramlines Festival, has agreed provisionally to a £1.2 million buy-out of the popular UK event.

The bid comes courtesy of Music City Foundation, a Sheffield-based nonprofit, which says it hopes to “preserve the iconic festival for the benefit of the city” by “buy[ing] back the festival for the people”. The foundation already owns 15% of Tramlines, but now plans to buy Tramlines Events out of its shares in the festival, with half (£600,000) of the bid price raised through a crowdfunding campaign.

Share packages start at £200, and will be available to buy next Wednesday (12 April) from musiccityfoundation.org.

“Music City Foundation plans to buy back the festival for the people,” says foundation director Winston Hazel. ““Our aim is to support both economic and cultural growth.

“Sheffield is one of the most culturally diverse and stimulating cities in the UK. It is the birthplace of Arctic Monkeys, Pulp and Bring Me the Horizon, and 7.4% of our population is employed by the creative industries [compared to a] national average of just 4%. We want to ensure that Tramlines continues to support our vibrant culture while also contributing to the city’s economic success.”

Tramlines Festival 2017, headlined by Primal Scream and The Libertines, will not be affected by the £1.2m offer – which is below market value, “in order to encourage investment from the city’s people and businesses” – with a successful bid taking effect from 2018.

“Do you want our flagship event stuck in a portfolio of 15 festivals, its performance linked to strategies, bundled with random cities that have nothing to do with Sheffield?”

Tramlines was launched in 2009 as a free festival by Tramlines Events and Sheffield Council, with Tramline Events assuming full control in 2010. Count of Ten (Y Not, Truck Festival) acquired a 38% stake in 2013, introducing several ‘premium’ venues but still keeping a free tier. It first made a significant profit in 2015.

“Ask yourself, as someone with a direct trading interest in Sheffield: Do you want our flagship event stuck in a portfolio of 15 festivals, its performance linked to strategies, maybe bundled and themed with random cities that have nothing to do with Sheffield [and] jettisoned if we don’t hit bottom lines?” writes Hazel in Music Cities Foundation’s ‘blueprints’ for the acquisition. “We think that is not the way our flagship, or our city, thinks. […]

“Keeping Tramlines Sheffield-owned isn’t just about protecting an event. We believe Tramlines Festival is a crucial catalyst for our plans and for the city. It has already shown the importance of city-wide collaboration. It brings national companies and projects to our table and gives us a national profile in return.

“There are a huge number of incumbent traders who have helped shape Tramlines with us – and we are inviting them first to secure their long-term rights to buying the festival shares and its IPRs [intellectual property rights].”

 


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  • Barry James

    Whatever happened to the Tramlines Crowdfund? Can we help?