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Iconic Danish venue to reopen after bankruptcy

Tobakken, one of Denmark's largest and longest-standing indoor concert venues, will reopen this summer with new operators at the helm

By Lisa Henderson on 30 May 2024


Iconic Danish venue Tobakken is slated to reopen this summer after the board filed for bankruptcy in March 2023.

Based in Esbjerg, southwest Denmark, the former tobacco factory (cap. 1,200) began hosting concerts in 1993 and is one of the country’s largest and longest-standing indoor venues.

This week, the Esbjerg municipality finalised a partnership with Esbjerg Musikhuset that will see the performing arts centre take over the operations of Tobakken.

The venue will officially re-open on 1 August with programming focused on “the big, popular names, the growth layer and the local music scene,” according to Musikhuset.

As part of the deal, the municipality will contribute NOK 5.9 million (€516,441) per year, for an initial period of three years, and Musikhuset/Tobakken must submit a detailed annual account of how each subsidy is used.

The venue will officially re-open on 1 August with programming focused on “the big, popular names, the growth layer and the local music scene”

In exchange, Musikhuset must reserve 40 days each year for local community groups and youth organisations to use the venue. The operators must also establish an advisory forum with representatives from music associations in Esbjerg Municipality who will provide input on programming.

“It is a unanimous board that has decided that Musikhuset must take on the great and important task of running Tobakken,” says Johnny Søtrup, chairman of the board of Musikhuset Esbjerg. “We are convinced that we are the right people to take on the task, and we will do our utmost to ensure that the people of South-West Jutland get a fantastic rhythmic venue.”

Tobakken filed for bankruptcy and shut its doors a little over a year ago after the Esbjerg Municipality had decided not to grant the venue an additional DKK 5.8 million (€778,606) requested to make it through 2023.

Tobakken has had negative equity since 2016 and negative annual results in five out of the past six years, according to the venue.

At the time, Esbjerg mayor Jesper Frost Rasmussen, said: “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.”

 


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