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Boost for Manchester nightlife as new venue opens

A brand-new, socially distanced outdoor events space is preparing to open in Manchester city centre this weekend, as news comes that two of the city’s music venues – Gorilla and Deaf Institute – have been saved from closure.

Escape to Freight Island, the brainchild of veteran Manchester DJs Luke Cowdrey and Justin Crawford (The Unabombers), together with Gareth Cooper of Festival No.6/Broadwick Live, Jon Drape of Engine No.4 and venue operator Dan Morris, is a large, socially distanced food and entertainment complex launching at Broadwick’s 10,000-capacity Depot Mayfield site this weekend.

The space can hold up to 600 people while complying with social distancing rules, with plans to bring the capacity up to 2,500 once measures relax. Platform 15 is the first part of the complex to open, with the full launch to follow.

DJ Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy will perform at Platform 15 on its opening night on Friday (24 July), with Mr Scruff, Mikey D.O.N. and Jamie Groovement playing the following evening. Norman Jay MBE and Mass will close out Escape to Freight Island’s inaugural weekend on Sunday.

Other acts scheduled to play at Platform 15 include Gilles Peterson, Erol Alkan and Greg Wilson, with events organised in conjunction with Manchester Pride, Festival No.6 and We Out Here Festival, and venue Band on the Wall, among others.

The space is all seated, with all food and drink ordered via an app and QR system. Fans must book in advance, with groups of up to 12 permitted. A staggered arrival system, managed queuing and toilet areas and extra hygiene precautions all form part of the complex’s social and safe manifesto.

“Platform 15 will give a flavour of what is to come when we launch the full Escape to Freight Island experience, so let’s all meet at Platform 15 to begin our escape to freedom,” comments Cowdrey.

“Let’s all meet at Platform 15 to begin our escape to freedom”

The opening of the new venue comes as many around the UK, and the world, struggle under the financial pressures of Covid-19.

Manchester venues Gorilla (600-cap.) and Deaf Institute (260-cap.) last week announced they were closing their doors permanently due to the pandemic. However, it emerged yesterday (22 June) that the venues have now been acquired by venue group Tokyo Industries (TI).

TI founder Aaron Mellor says the group has been working together with promoter SSD Concerts – which is launching the UK’s first socially distanced arena next month – and the Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, to come up with ways “to help save both venues and their existing operating style in a post-Covid world.”

“So, looks like the story is out Deaf Institute and Gorilla have been saved and will be kept as live music venues as we know and love them,” writes Burgess in a Twitter post.

“I’ve been talking with the new owners over the weekend and we’ll be doing all we can to help with the next chapter.”

Manchester night-time economy advisor and Parklife founder Sacha Lord thanked mayor Andy Burnham for “helping to raise the profile” of the two venues’ plight.

“Great news…all done within four working days. Jobs saved and two of the city centres best live music venues kept alive,” tweeted Lord.

Bookings for Escape to Freight Island can be made here.

 


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Virtual Snowbombing 2020 reaches 6.3m people

Planet Snowbombing, a virtual festival taking the place of the cancelled Snowbombing 2020, reached more than 6.3 million people with over 30 live streams, organisers have announced.

The event, which took place from 13 to 18 April 2020, replaced Snowbombing, which was one of the first European festivals to be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Broadwick Live-promoted Snowbombing – which was to have returned to the Mayrhofen ski resort in the Austrian Alps on the same dates – would have featured headline performances from Liam Gallagher and Chase and Status for its 21st edition, now moved to 2021.

Planet Snowbombing, held in aid of the UK’s National Emergencies Trust, featured DJ sets, live acoustic performances, stand-up comedy, yoga, daily work-outs, quizzes, Q&As, bingo and more, with participating performers including Rudimental, We Are Scientists, the Shapeshifters, Reverend and the Makers, Solardo, the Cuban Brothers and Mr Motivator.

“The virtual festival received over 1.5 million unique views and was a really successful and genuine way of engaging with our audience”

“Given the cancellation of the festival, we felt we should give something back to our disappointed fans, so they could at least experience a bit of the festival from isolation,” says Snowbombing event manager Sam Turvill. “We decided to curate a weeklong programme of content that ran over the actual festival dates, and included the kind of eclectic content that we like to think sets Snowbombing apart – from life drawing with the Cuban Brothers to a bedroom DJ set from Rudimental, a Bongo’s Bingo livestream and mountain-top rave complete with smoke bombs and a stunning sunset backdrop.

“The virtual festival received over 1.5 million unique views and was a really successful and genuine way of engaging with our audience to increase customer loyalty and push the brand forward in an innovative and exciting way. It also provided an opportunity to work with our key partners in a completely new way and build on those relationships. The project provided a really exciting challenge for our team and, while delivered at relatively low cost, the final outcome far exceeded our initial expectations.”

Snowbombing will return from 4 to 10 April 2021. All festivals in Austria are off until at least mid-July, with a further ban on large-scale events likely to be extended beyond the summer.

 


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Field Day to return for one day in 2020

Acclaimed production duo Bicep will headline Field Day with an exclusive live set in 2020, with the London festival returning in stripped-back form on Saturday 11 July.

For its 14th year – and its second year at the Drumsheds, promoter Broadwick Live’s venue on the site of a former gasworks in north London – Field Day will become a one-day event with a focus on electronic music.

“The evolution of Field Day continues through to 2020, settling into its second year in its new home at the Drumsheds,” comments Broadwick, “expanding their offering of electronic music, which perfectly complimented its new warehouse venue at Field Day 2019.

“Next year’s programme will celebrate the full spectrum, with both live and DJ performances across three stages of music, running louder and later with indoor stages, including the main stage, continuing until 3 am –  a unique and unrivalled prospect for London festivals.”

“We’re over the moon to be back headlining the 2020 edition of the festival at the Drumsheds”

Bicep’s headline live show at Field Day 2020 will be their only London festival performance next summer.

“Having debuted our live show back at Field Day 2016, we’re over the moon to be back headlining the 2020 edition of the festival at the Drumsheds next July,” say the pair in a statement.

More performers, expected to be similar DJs and electronic music acts, will be announced in the near future.

Tickets are priced from £35 for a full-day pass. Presale starts on Monday 9 December, and general sale on Tuesday 10th, from fielddayfestivals.com.

 


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Broadwick’s new London venue open for business

Exhibition London, the third new venue this year from the team behind the venue Printworks, has opened its doors at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, west London.

The new venue and event space, first announced in February this year, held its official opening last night (Wednesday 20 November). Spanning an area of 1,271 square metres over two floors, Exhibition London has a standing capacity of 2,396 and can accommodate 1,365 in “theatre-style” seating.

A collaborative project with shopping centre operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the venue forms part of the £8 billion regeneration of the White City district of London and is housed in a grade-II listed building that formerly served as a power station for the London Underground.

“I am excited to be bringing this amazing new venue to market as I feel London lacks spaces of this size”

Exhibition London is the latest UK venue in the fast-growing portfolio of promoter and venue operator Broadwick Live and full-service agency Venue Lab, which includes Printworks and the Drumsheds. The team opened its first purpose-built destination, Magazine London (7,000-cap.), earlier this year.

Venue Lab will be responsible for all corporate event management at the venue, currently taking bookings from January 2020 onwards.

“I am excited to be bringing this amazing new venue to market as I feel London lacks spaces of this size,” comments Broadwick Live director and Venue Lab CEO, Simon Tracey.

“We have carefully designed [Exhibition London] to be a tailor-made event space with luxury features to enhance its original heritage characteristics. I hope it will play a key role in the White City regeneration project, helping to further identify the area as a mixed-use development, a place to live, work and play.”

 


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Ground Control’s Jon Drape launches Engine No. 4

Event production veteran Jon Drape has launched Engine No.4, a new production company headquartered in Manchester, UK, as he retires the Ground Control brand.

The new company counts Parklife, Snowbombing Austria, Bluedot, Kendal Calling, Lost Village, Depot at Mayfield and the Warehouse Project among its clients.

Drape, former MD of Ground Control Productions, director at Broadwick Live and founder of Festival Safe, forms part of a core team of equal partners with Tommy Sheals-Barrett (Back On Your Heads Ltd), Jim Gee (N4 Productions) and Will McHugh (CC Events).

The decision to create Engine No.4 follows the withdrawal of Broadwick Live and Ground Control parent company, Global, from the festival space earlier this year.

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control,” comments Drape. “We came to realise that a more streamlined business was the only sustainable option.

“With a desire to focus on quality events and festivals, I thought the best move forwards would be to form a new partnership of four equal shareholders and directors together, covering all elements of the industry and able to deliver more bespoke and considered solutions.”

“It was the ideal time for a rethink – it’s not just a rebadged version of Ground Control”

With over 30 years’ experience in the live industry, Drape managed production at legendary Manchester venue the Hacienda, later founding Ground Control in 2013. Drape is a patron for music charity Attitude is Everything and drug safety testing group the Loop.

Sheals-Barrett takes on the role of head of technical production, with 25 years’ experience managing production for Festival No. 6, Bluedot and Parklife.

Kendal Calling and Parklife operations director McHugh will handle the sponsorship side of the business, building on existing relationships with clients such as EE, Lynx, Nintendo and Carling.

Gee, whose recent projects include reopening Manchester’s 10,000-capacity Depot at Mayfield, will serve as the director and head of site management.

“We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved so far at the Depot,” says Gee. “Our remit was to transition the Warehouse Project from Store Street without losing the spirit and the vibe in a much larger venue. Somewhat of a challenge but something we have delivered.”

Operating from September 2019, Engine No.4 has new projects lined up to add to its existing client base.

International event production professionals will be gathering at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London.

 


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Experience economy fuels resort festival rise

For decades, grassy and often muddy fields have been the setting for music festivals worldwide, but as the overall festival experience has crept ever higher on fans’ priority lists, different kinds of sites have begun to catch the eye of festival organisers.

From snowy slopes to golden sands, resorts offer the unique selling point and quality infrastructure desired by organisers, as well as appealing to the experiential tendencies of the millennial festivalgoer.

“People’s tastes have changed,” Gareth Cooper, CEO of Broadwick Live and director of Snowbombing festival tells IQ, adding that people in general “have more disposable income” and often view a festival as a “second holiday” nowadays.

Starting 21 years ago as an après-ski party, Snowbombing has evolved into a week-long live music event. The line-up for Snowbombing 2020, taking place from 13 to 18 April, includes Liam Gallagher, the Streets, Foals and Big Narstie.

Mainstage Festivals-promoted Snowboxx (6,000-cap.) also takes its inspiration from the traditional partying aspect of ski holidays.

“We all know that après is the real reason why people go skiing,” says Mainstage marketing manager Juan Lopez. “Sipping a cold one after a day on the slopes is the perfect way to unwind, but there is not much to do on the mountain after that.”

“People’s tastes have changed and they have more disposable income”

To counter that, Snowboxx has brought artists such as Basement Jaxx, Wilkinson and Craig David’s TS5 to Avoriaz in France for the past seven years, alongside a “jam-packed schedule of off-piste activities”. Acts confirmed for the 2020 edition, taking place from 21 to 18 March, include Andy C, Annie Mac, the Sugarhill Gang and Denis Sulta.

Anthony Diaz, CEO of cruise festival specialist Sixthman, agrees that the idea of a combined holiday and music festival is really “resonating” with fans.

In addition to its many “floating festivals”, Sixthman has recently experimented with seaside resort festivals, launching Kid Rock’s Flying High Island Jam and All the Best presented by John Prine at boutique resorts in the Dominican Republic, with further plans to replicate the model in European resorts.

“People are choosing to invest more and more in experiences, rather than in material things, including in immersive music experiences and in vacations,” Diaz tells IQ. “The combination of being on vacation with your musical heroes and with others that share that same passion, it’s unbeatable.”

Fans have also shown an eagerness to travel to new places for festivals in recent years, a fact that the Mainstage Festivals team is well aware of. The idea behind the promoter’s Kala festival, which takes place in Dhërmi, a beach resort on the Albanian Riviera, is to introduce festivalgoers to a holiday location they are unlikely to have visited before.

“The Kala crowd is looking for new experiences and new adventures, so somewhere as beautiful and off the beaten path as Albania ticks all the boxes for them,” says Lopez, who refers to Albania as “Europe’s best kept secret”.

“The combination of being on vacation with your musical heroes and with others that share that same passion, it’s unbeatable”

Since Kala started in 2017, there has been a 27% increase in foreign tourists to Albania and, although the event organisers cannot take “full credit” for that, Kala is now the “flagship event” for Albania. “It’s the country’s first and biggest overseas festival and we look forward to growing along with the broader tourism industry over there,” says Mainstage CEO Rob Tominey.

For the Mainstage boss, cooperation with tourist boards is an integral aspect to overseas festivals, “not only to promote the festivals, but also to showcase the local culture.”

Broadwick’s Snowbombing, which has taken place every April at Austria’s Mayrhofen ski resort since 2006, also collaborates closely with local tourism boards and tour operators, as well as the resort’s management.

“We turn what would traditionally be the quietest week of the season into one of the busiest,” explains Cooper. “It’s an end-of-season boost for the local economy and brings very good clientele to the resort – the kind who come to socialise and make use of bars and restaurants.”

However, a festival in a resort, by its very nature, costs more for the fan. Accommodation for five nights at Snowbombing is priced between £269 and £1,500, in addition to equipment hire, ski pass and transport to and from the festival.

“We could go cheaper and use a resort in France,” admits Cooper, but “that’s not the quality we’re looking for.”

It seems that cheap and cheerful is not what Snowbombing attendees are after either, with four-star hotels, complete with swimming pools and spas, proving the most popular accommodation choice.

“When you have the right destination, people just want to go”

Quality is key for Sixthman’s event too. Guests can choose between different suites at the resort, with all concerts, meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks included in the price, as well as unlimited use of the resort’s swimming pools and beaches.

Despite high-end prices, Sixthman does not attempt to tier pricing or up-sell fans with VIP packages or events. “All our guests are VIP,” says Diaz, which helps foment a “positive”, community-like feeling among fans.

Yet, for Mainstage, cheaper prices are one of the draws of its destination-based events.

“There are a number of benefits to attending a festival abroad vs in the UK,” says Tominey. “The costs can often be more favourable with cheaper ticket prices as well as cheaper costs while there.

Even at Snowboxx, the Mainstage team tries to keep the price low, “steering clear of all-inclusive deals” and negotiating with hotels.

“We’ve seen in the past how accommodation and transfer prices have spiked around destination festivals, after a few years of them being in the location,” says Tominey. The Snowboxx team offers seven-day accommodation and festival wristband packages for between £254 (three star) and £442 (five star).

The most important aspect of this new kind of festival, however, remains the same for all. As Cooper puts it: “When you have the right destination, people just want to go.”

 


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Venue Lab, Broadwick Live talk “disrupting” London venues

Magazine London, a brand-new, multi-use venue in North Greenwich, opened its doors last week, as the latest event space in the fast-growing portfolio of Printworks operators, Venue Lab and Broadwick Live.

Venue Lab’s and Broadwick Live’s first purpose-built destination features a 3,000-capacity indoor, industrial-style space, adaptable to cater for live shows, corporate dinners or conferences. A mezzanine floor and terrace form a “ready-made” VIP area and outside, a 7,000-capacity showground offers a versatile space for brand activations with views across the river to Canary Wharf.

“We wanted to take all the difficult aspects of putting on an event and find solutions in advance,” Venue Lab chief executive Simon Tracey tells IQ. “The idea is to be really versatile, so this can be the right space for any kind of event, on any day of the week.”

Venue Lab is a Vibration Group company, a collective of creative event businesses, specialising in venue management and ownership, production services and event brands. This allows the Venue Lab team to plug their own services into the venues they operate, meaning everything from set design to production to staffing is done “in house”.

Broadwick Live, operator of venues the Drumsheds, Exhibition London and Depot at Mayfield and promoter of festivals such as Snowbombing and Field Day, acts as Venue Lab’s “ticketed culture partner”.

Venue Lab started working with Broadwick Live for the programming of London event space, Printworks. The phone rang “off the hook” with promoters wanting to use the space once Venue Lab took it over, says Tracey, but the team wanted to manage it “properly”, avoid negative impact on the surrounding area and ensure they could rely on those they worked with.

“We wanted to take all the difficult aspects of putting on an event and find solutions in advance”

“We could have booked content from lots of different promoters but we wanted to have more control over what happened at the venue,” explains Tracey. “If someone comes to a ticketed event and doesn’t enjoy it, they immediately think it’s the venue’s fault. We wanted to make sure that every experience someone has in one of our venues is a good one.”

Broadwick Live’s background in destination-based, immersive festivals, such as Snowbombing in the Alps and Festival No.6 in Portmeirion, Wales, made them the perfect fit for Venue Lab. “They’re about more than just a stage in a field,” says Tracey, “they excel in creating interesting experiences, so culturally it was inevitable we’d work well together.”

The content at Printworks is not all wholly owned by Broadwick Live, adds Tracey. “Broadwick Live works with lots of different promoters, but they manage the overall programming and operations, so we know they will always deliver.”

The success of Printworks, which has become a “phenomenon” since opening in 2017, has led to the development of a “brilliant” collaborative relationship between both Venue Lab and Broadwick Live. “Collectively, we can do it all,” says Tracey, “and that makes us really unique.”

Another aspect that allows both Venue Lab and Broadwick Live to stand out from the crowd is the companys’ aim to build “brands” or “spaces” rather than venues, creating something more special than “just another nameless box”.

Tracey points to their current portfolio of spaces – such as disused train station Depot at Mayfield, former printing press Printworks, old gasworks The Drumsheds or more traditional corporate venues Landing Forty Two and grade II-listed The Pumping House – stating they are all “very different from a branding perspective”.

“I genuinely believe there’s a lot more capacity in London for all sorts of venues”

Situated in plain sight of AEG’s O2 Arena and sharing the same underground station, has the creation of Magazine London not led to tension, with worries over competition and accessibility for fans?

On the contrary, says the Magazine team, we are “good neighbours” with the O2 and meet regularly.

“They know we are not running the same kind of venue as them, the only challenge is transport but we have meetings to plan for this and have developed a really coordinated approach,” says Tracey.

In other areas, people would be “more protective” about the space, comments Tracey, but one of the benefits of being part of the Greenwich Peninsular development is that it brings everyone together and diffuses this, with businesses forming partnerships to make the Peninsular as desirable a destination as possible.

Even the impending creation of the 21,500-capacity MSG Sphere, which has caused tension with AEG, does not faze the Magazine team.

“I genuinely believe there’s a lot more capacity in London for all sorts of venues,” says Tracey in reference to a possible saturation of the market. “It’s such a multicultural city and London is actually quite behind in terms of event spaces.”

“People are craving experiences, and as they do, there’s ever more evolution of what that experience is”

Following the success of Printworks, Venue Lab and Broadwick Live have launched three new venues this year – Magazine London, the Drumsheds and Exhibition London, which opens in November – and plans to work collaboratively in opening three to five more venues each year, “for the next three years”, in London, other major UK cities, and across Europe.

Although the old-school nightclub is becoming more challenging and it is getting harder for festivals to “make it work”, the demand for venues that offer interesting experiences to fans and a versatile space to organisers is far from satisfied.

“People are craving experiences, and as they do, there’s ever more evolution of what that experience is,” states Tracey. “Events are getting bigger, better and more immersive – everyone is raising their game.”

Magazine London has already attracted a wide variety of public and private events ahead of 2020. From brand events, awards dinners, conferences, exhibitions, fashion, the arts and ticketed culture; there are 22 events confirmed between September 2019 and the end of the year.

Upcoming events include sold-out Michael Bibi Presents Isolate, World Travel Market’s International Travel and Tourism Awards and Stylist Live LUXE. The venue hosted Desperados’ ‘Epic House Party’ last weekend (Saturday 7 September), in which 3,000 attendees crossed its threshold to mark Magazine London’s official opening.

 


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Broadwick announces new 10,000-cap. Manchester venue

Broadwick Venues has unveiled plans for a new 10,000-capacity venue on the site of a derelict former railway station in Manchester, UK.

Depot – described as a “performance, community and studio space” – will launch at the former Manchester Mayfield station, which closed in 1986, this summer, hosting the Manchester Pride Live event on 24 and 25 August. The venue is expected to be in use for the next five years while the 30-acre Mayfield site undergoes over £1 billion worth of regeneration.

The team behind the new venture say they expect to attract “globally significant performers” to Manchester “with a diverse programme of cultural activities and artists” at Depot. A proportion of tickets to all events at the new venue will be sold at discounted prices for residents, students, children, pensioners and wheelchair users and their companions.

Alongside the proposed main performance space at Depot, there will be two smaller areas. One, Concourse, will host a range of free-to-attend community events, seasonal activities and food experiences, while Archive will offer a smaller performance area and a low-cost rehearsal and studio space for local artists.

Depot Mayfield will be the fourth venue operated by Broadwick Venues, the venues arm of leading festival promoter Broadwick Live, alongside the Printworks London space in Canada Water, the newly opened Drumsheds in Enfield (which hosted the 2019 edition of Field Day) and Exhibition in Shepherd’s Bush, set to open near the Westfield shopping centre later this year.

Broadwick Live broke with long-time majority shareholder Global in April, taking festivals including Field Day, Snowbombing and Festival №6.

“We plan to create some amazing experiences in this new space”

Broadwick will run Depot alongside Vibration Group, its partner on the other venues, and the Mayfield Partnership (comprising Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester, London & Continental Railways and property developer U+I).

Richard Upton, chief development officer at U+I, says: “We want to add something to the Mancunian cultural landscape which is unique not just in the city, but in the UK.

“Depot will be a place that blends the global with the local and where international stars and local school children will be able access the same quality of performance and studio space. It will be democratic and distinctive.”

In addition to Manchester Pride, a “a string of high-profile contemporary music shows” are set to be announced in the coming weeks, says Broadwick.

“The new performance spaces as part of the Mayfield regeneration are a huge opportunity to welcome the city of Manchester to see Mayfield Depot,” says Broadwick Venues director Bradley Thomson. “Using arts programming and cultural happenings, we plan to create some amazing experiences in this new space.”

Greater Manchester, an urban area of nearly three million people, is currently unserved by entertainment venues the size of Depot, which will slot in between the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena and 3,500-cap. venues Victoria Warehouse and Manchester Apollo.

 


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Drumsheds, Exhibition London for hire with Venue Lab

Broadwick Venues, the venue arm of festival promoter Broadwick Live, has appointed Venue Lab to manage all venue hire for new event spaces the Drumsheds and Exhibition London.

The venue operator has announced the partnership on the back of a successful collaboration with Venue Lab at popular London venue Printworks. The company will manage corporate, brand and filming bookings and will be solely responsible for all venue hire management for the new event spaces.

Venue Lab is a Vibration Group company and the creator of event spaces including Printworks London (6,000-cap.), Landing Forty Two and The Pumping House, Dock X London, Thirty Eight Grosvenor Square and the recently launched Magazine London (3,000-cap.).

“Following our very successful partnership at Printworks London, Venue Lab is the natural choice to help us develop the Drumsheds and Exhibition London as new cultural spaces for the city,” comments Broadwick Venues managing director Bradley Thompson.

Announced earlier this month, the Drumsheds is a ten-acre outdoor events space with four giant interlinking warehouses, offering a total indoor capacity of 10,000. The venue hosts its inaugural event on 7 June, with the first of Broadwick Live’s weekend-long Field Day festival.

“Venue Lab is the natural choice to help us develop the Drumsheds and Exhibition London as new cultural spaces for the city”

Field Day is one of several festivals suspected to remain under Broadwick Live’s control, following the takeover of the festival arm of its former owner, Global, by Providence-Equity backed Superstruct Entertainment. Broadwick is believed to be undertaking a management buyback of its shares from Global.

Scheduled to open at the end of 2019, Exhibition London will transform a Victorian Grade II Dimco East building in Shepherd’s Bush – originally used as an electricity generating station for the London Underground – into a multi-purpose music and events venues with a standing capacity of 1,400.

Spanning two floors, the 34,000sqft venue is currently taking bookings for events taking place from January 2020.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Broadwick Venues and further expanding our portfolio,” says Venue Lab’s director of venues, Claire Pastore.

“Venue Lab has a proven track record of finding, activating and delivering thought-provoking spaces both commercially and to create destinations,” adds Pastore.

Superstruct, Broadwick divvy up Global festival portfolio

 

 


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Superstruct, Broadwick divvy up Global festival portfolio

Less than four years after it snapped up much of the UK festival market, IQ understands that Global’s portfolio of summer events have been split up between Providence Equity Partners’ Superstruct Entertainment and former partner Broadwick Live.

While the former has taken control of Global Festivals Ltd, Broadwick is reportedly planning a management buyback of its shares from Global, according to several industry insiders.

While never publicly revealing figures, Global took a “significant strategic stake” in Broadwick in June 2015 that was further increased in October 2016. At the time, Broadwick’s portfolio included Snowbombing and Festival No. 6, and it later acquired stakes in Standon Calling, Glass Butter Beach and Lost Village.

Documents recently filed at Companies House state that Superstruct Entertainment Ltd became “a person with significant control” of Global Festivals Ltd on 4 April, at the same time as Broadwick Holdings Ltd ceased to have a significant interest. Shortly after, Broadwick’s directors resigned from the company and Providence Equity’s Siniša Krnić, Roderik Schlösser and Daniel Zwicky were appointed as directors.

After launching into the festival market in 2015, Ashley Tabor’s radio and media conglomerate Global grew the portfolio to a total of 17 events in March 2017 by acquiring majority stakes in Hideout Festival in Croatia and Victorious Festival in the UK. South West Four, Field Day, Boardmasters and ’80s festival Rewind, in Henley, were previously part of the Impresario portfolio, while Y Not and Truck were owned by Tramlines promoter Count of Ten.

“This acquisition further demonstrates that Superstruct is committed to building a strong portfolio of live entertainment brands”

A spokesperson confirms the festivals acquired by Superstruct include Victorious and Hideout, as well as the UK’s South West Four, Kendal Calling, Truck, Tramlines and Boardmasters. Events not included in the agreement, including Field Day, Festival No. 6 and Snowbombing, as well as Broadwick Venues, are believed to remain under Broadwick’s control.

James Barton, CEO of Superstruct, comments: “This acquisition further demonstrates that Superstruct is committed to building a strong portfolio of live entertainment brands. We look forward to supporting the different festivals in their growth in their respective markets.”

The move is believed to be the first UK buy for Superstruct, returning James Barton to his home nation, where he cut his teeth building EDM festival Creamfields in the late 90s. It follows a long string of European festival acquisitions for Superstruct over the past year including Finland’s Flow Festival, Øya Festival in Norway, Barcelona’s Sónar festival, Sziget festival in Hungary and Spanish electronic music promoter Elrow.

The change in ownership of Global’s festival business comes 18 months after its touring arm, Global Live, was wrapped up following the exit of principals Sam Bush and Joe Schiavon, who both left to join Live Nation.

Financial terms of the Superstruct-Global deal were not disclosed.

 


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