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Boomtown Fair founders react to Live Nation deal

The Boomtown team have spoken out on the circumstances that prompted them to sell a 45% stake in the festival to LN, Gaiety and SJM

By James Hanley on 17 Aug 2022

Boomtown Fair is among the signatories of AIF's Safer Spaces at Festivals campaign

The team behind Boomtown Fair have spoken out on their decision to sell a minority interest in the festival.

In a statement, Boomtown’s co-founders Luke Mitchell and Christopher Rutherford clarify the breakdown of the deal – which sees Live Nation and Gaiety each taking an 18% stake, with SJM Concerts also taking 9% – while also discussing the financial pressures that led to the move.

“For us as a business, our vision has always been very clear, we are a festival like no other – a full living theatre which is set around friends, community, and creative spirit,” reads the statement. “Like many other businesses in our industry, due to Covid our landscape has changed, and to stay ahead we have had to adapt and be agile. It’s been a very tough few years.

“One of the decisions we came to in the last few months, as a direct result of the rising costs in staging such an epic and complex show, was to seek investment; a minority stake in the business from some of the most experienced names in the industry – SJM (9%), Gaiety (18%) and Live Nation (18%).

“This decision will not only allow Boomtown to continue its vision to be one of the most exciting festivals in the world, but it will also ensure the flexibility to continue to uphold independence on all decisions around business and creativity.”

Live Nation’s UK & Ireland chair Denis Desmond and COO Stuart Douglas were appointed as directors of both Boomtown Festival UK and parent company Circus of Boom last month.

“For us it’s business as usual – we still hold the keys, we are still running the show”

The UK’s biggest independent festival, the 76,999-cap event was awarded £991,000 last year via the government’s Culture Recovery Fund after being forced to cancel its 2020 and 2021 edition due to the pandemic. The most recent edition of the event was held this past weekend at the Matterley Estate near Winchester. Entitled Boomtown Chapter One: ‘The Gathering’, artists included Shy FX, Kool & The Gang, Four Tet, De La Soul and Kae Tempest.

Boomtown co-founder Rutherford suggests it is still “business as usual” as far as the festival is concerned.

“We are excited by the possibilities of this move, for us it’s business as usual, we still hold the keys, we are still running the show,” he says. “We just have the safety of knowing there is now group support to help us pull through the tail end of these tricky years and provide stability for the future. This means we can continue to thrive, provide employment to one of the best festival crews in the world, and deliver to our audience the magic that is Boomtown. We feel incredibly lucky to still be here after such difficult times.”

Meanwhile, with Boomtown a longstanding member of the Association of Independent Festivals, the association says the deal will likely spark discussions about its criteria for membership.

“The definition of ‘independent’ as far as festivals are concerned is something our membership will likely wish to discuss and review in the coming months,” says CEO Paul Reed, who add that, “It’s important that we adapt to changing market landscapes to best fulfil our remit of supporting independent promoters.”

 


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