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Veteran promoter Giles Cooper awarded OBE

UK concert promoter and charity trustee Giles Cooper has been awarded an OBE in the King’s Birthday Honours List.

The CEO of Giles Cooper Entertainment/GCE Live, Cooper has produced countless tours over his 30 years in the industry and has been recognised for services to entertainment and charity.

GCE Live is renowned for promoting outdoor concerts under the Heritage Live brand, in the grounds of stately homes, with capacities ranging from 10,000 to 30,000. In recent years, it has promoted concerts for the likes of Robbie Williams, The Who, Noel Gallagher, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Jones, Sir Van Morrison, Madness, Jose Carreras, Soft Cell, Hozier and The Jacksons.

“I am truly honoured and humbled to receive the OBE and look forward to continuing my work in the entertainment and charity world for many years to come”

“I am truly honoured and humbled to receive the OBE and look forward to continuing my work in the entertainment and charity world for many years to come,” says Cooper.

The 55-year-old began his entertainment career in the late 80s, working on music papers Melody Maker and NME. In 1992, he joined advertising agency Sold Out as an account director where he marketed tours for bands including U2, Oasis and the Rolling Stones, as well as festivals such as Glastonbury, V Festival and Reading.

In 1998, he founded arts and entertainment agency Media Junction, later developing it into Soho Media Group.

In 2007, Cooper volunteered for the Royal Variety Charity and was voted chairman in November 2010, with overall responsibility for the annual Royal Variety Performance. He has acted as executive producer for the annual fundraising show since 2010. He was re-elected in 2016 and again in 2020 by unanimous vote.

Since Cooper became chair of the charity, in excess of £16 million has been raised from fundraising and appeals.

“Ally Pally is one of the nation’s great success stories”

Meanwhile, Emma Dagnes, Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust CEO, has also been awarded an OBE in recognition of her services to heritage. The London venue is preparing for its biggest ever season of outdoor summer events, including Kaleidoscope Festival on 13 July.

“I am truly honoured to have received this award,” says Dagnes, who has worked at Alexandra Palace for 14 years. “Heritage is much more than just physical structures. It is about the people and the stories that inhabit these spaces and the inspiration and sense of community that they bring to people’s lives.

“Ally Pally is one of the nation’s great success stories in this respect. That is thanks to a huge number of people who have worked, campaigned, volunteered and fundraised to ensure the survival and success of the ‘People’s Palace’ over its 150 years. I am proud to be one of their number and privileged to continue to serve as we move forward with an exciting and bold new vision and resolve to safeguard Ally Pally for now and forever.”

In addition, musician and producer Phil Manzanera has been honoured with an OBE for services to music, while composer and conductor Dr John Rutter is recognised with a knighthood.

Elsewhere, there are MBEs for Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon, artist and music industry campaigner Rebecca Ferguson, Boney M’s Liz Pemberton-Mitchell, M People singer Heather Small and KISS FM founder Gordon Mac.


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Promoter Giles Cooper talks Heritage Live series

Promoter Giles Cooper has spoken to IQ about his company’s Heritage Live UK outdoor concert series, which kicked off its latest run last weekend.

Giles Cooper Entertainment (GCE) has partnered with English Heritage on the shows since 2017, bringing outdoor concerts back to London’s Kenwood House the following summer after an absence of five years. The Hampstead Heath venue hosted gigs almost continuously since 1951, but in 2014 previous promoter Rouge Events pulled out of a deal after suffering poor ticket sales the year before.

Launching its 2022 line-up a week ago with 15,000-cap headline shows by James, Rag’n’Bone Man and David Rodigan’s Outlook Orchestra, Heritage Live continues tonight with a Culture Club, Bananarama and Lulu triple bill, followed by Nile Rodgers + Chic, Billy Ocean and Norman Jay MBE (18 June) and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Jake Bugg and Confidence Man (19 June).

“Heritage Live is a brand we created in 2017, so we’ve been running the series every year since then, obviously bar the pandemic,” says Cooper. “Our USP, if you like, is that we specialise in staging concerts in unique locations. It noticeably attracts people that don’t normally go to concerts – there is a distinctly local demographic mixed in with the hardcore fans.”

Other 2022 headliners include Tom Jones, Simple Minds Russell Watson, Elbow and The Bootleg Beatles

Originally taking place across two weekends in June, this year’s programme comprises more than 15 events up to mid-August and also includes shows at Ardingly Showground (cap. 20,000) in West Sussex, Englefield House (10,000) in Pangbourne, Berkshire and Audley End in Saffron Walden, Essex (12,000).

The opening night, topped by James and The Charlatans, got off to a slightly sticky start when logistical issues caused a delay to proceedings, meaning the first support band did not have time to perform. But things have since returned to a more even keel.

“That was a great shame, but health and safety is paramount,” said Cooper. “But the rest of the show happened and it was fantastic – James and The Charlatans were absolutely superb. And then the Saturday and Sunday were absolutely brilliant. I haven’t got the final figures yet, but it looked pretty full to me and it was a beautiful sunny day with an absolutely brilliant vibe.”

Other headline acts in the coming weeks include Russell Watson with the Royal Philharmonic & the NHS Choir, Simple Minds, Elbow, The Bootleg Beatles and Tom Jones, who wraps up the series at Audley End on 14 August. Some of the shows are new promotions, while others were originally scheduled for 2020/21, pre-pandemic.

“A lot of promoters will be glad to have delivered shows that we’ve had on sale for two to three years”

“I think a lot of promoters, definitely me included, will be glad to have delivered shows that we’ve had on sale for two to three years,” concedes Cooper. “With the rescheduled shows, it’s very difficult to get the enthusiasm going amongst the public to buy tickets because, when you put a show on sale, it’s all about the hype of that week before – the marketing gives the impression that you better buy your ticket quickly or they’ll sell out.

“The problem with rescheduled shows if that you can’t regenerate that hype again, so we’ve all found it difficult to sell any decent numbers on them. And in fact, in some cases, are lower than we had before they rescheduled because, of course, the public are entitled to a refund if they can’t make the new date. So they have been a bit of a chain around our neck a bit, I have to admit, but they’re balanced with the new shows, which are doing very well.

“Tom Jones has done over 10,000 tickets in a couple of weeks and Elbow’s doing very well, so the shows we’ve announced since January/February onwards have done great. It’s a very peculiar market we’re in at the moment: some things are doing not very well at all. But others, if you’ve got it right, are doing really well.”

As part of Heritage Live, GCE is also promoting Flackstock – a fundraiser for mental health charities – at Englefield House on 25 July, staged in honour of the late British television presenter Caroline Flack. Featuring live music, dance and comedy, artists set to appear include Professor Green, Fleur East, Pixie Lott, Louise Redknapp and Natalie Imbruglia.


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