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Iconic Danish venue files for bankruptcy

The Scandinavian country has lost one of its largest and longest-standing indoor venues after it accrued an extensive deficit

By Lisa Henderson on 30 Mar 2023

One of Denmark’s largest indoor music venues, Tobakken, has filed for bankruptcy after a turbulent few years.

The former tobacco factory in Esbjerg, southwest Denmark, began hosting concerts in 1993 for up to 1,200 visitors.

It was announced on Monday (27 March) that the Tobakken board filed for bankruptcy as the Esbjerg Municipality decided not to grant the historic venue an additional DKK 5.8 million (€778,606) requested to make it through 2023.

Esbjerg mayor Jesper Frost Rasmussen stated in a press release: “We had all hoped that Tobakken would overcome its challenges, but now we have reached a turning point where we, from a political standpoint, agree that the best solution is not to provide Tobakken with more money. It hurts us to make this decision, as we believe in a future for a rhythmic music venue in Esbjerg, but it must be in an economically sustainable model, and it opens up a new and fresh start.”

“The losses have simply been too great to financially and morally sustain Tobakken”

Chairman of the culture and leisure committee Jakob Lose added: “We still have great confidence in the music scene in Esbjerg, and of course, we must also have a strong rhythmic music venue in the future, which will host both established artists and the entire growth layer. The way forward is to create a new strong organisation that can safely lead a new rhythmic music venue into the future. We now need to take the time to figure out how to do this best.”

Peter Amstrup, chairman of the board for Tobakken, said he understands why the municipality has pulled the plug: “It is a sad day, and one could hope that someone would see the potential in Tobakken and start a new music venue. But now it is the trustee who takes over. The losses have simply been too great to financially and morally sustain Tobakken.”

Tobakken has had negative equity since 2016 and negative annual results in five out of the past six years, according to a statement on the venue’s website.

The statement goes on to say that “costs had been cut significantly over the past six months by reducing the number of employees and focusing intensively on optimising operations, it has unfortunately not been enough to offset the extensive deficit that has been accrued… Tobakken’s debt is primarily to the bank, the municipality and a few major suppliers.”

The venue closed immediately but the appointed curator will decide whether an attempt will be made to carry out some of the upcoming concerts and events.


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