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DHP Family’s Splendour to return in five-year deal

DHP Family’s Splendour Festival is set to return in 2025 after a new five-year contract was agreed with Nottingham City Council.

The 25,000-cap UK event’s 2024 edition was axed due to delays over tendering, but the authority is expected to rubber-stamp a deal covering 2025-29 at next week’s commissioning and procurement executive committee.

The two-day festival in Wollaton Park was last held in 2023, when it was headlined by Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

“This is a popular attraction as part of Nottingham’s annual events and entertainment programme and has created positive recognition, economic and social benefit for the city,” says the authority. “This would be lost or put at risk if these were discontinued. The cancellation of the event in 2024 has already seen a detrimental reputational impact on the city alongside a loss of income to the council.”

The council document lists the total value of the decision as £11.8 million (€13.9m), based on estimated turnover over the five years. The authority staged the annual festival jointly with Nottingham-headquartered promoter and venue operator DHP since 2007, but a formal competitive tendering process was initiated following the expiration of the most recent agreement two years ago.

“We understand the council, as owners of the Wollaton site, wanting to check that they are getting value for money for city residents from our deal”

“Revised terms between the council and DHP were agreed within a heads of terms agreement that covered the period from 2018-22,” it notes. “This approach reflected the wider changes in the council’s risk appetite and approach to staging events to reduce financial risks and begin the move towards a cost neutral, commercial income events model. This approach also sought to align our commercial terms for Splendour with other events of a similar nature staged within the city.

“Some of the changes at this time were also reflected in the wider UK festival industry. Instead of very large annual mega-festivals such as V Festival or T in the Park, most cities were now hosting some form of local/regional music festival; hence there was little or no rationale for the council to continue to financially support a festival, that was being entirely delivered by the commercial sector in other cities.

“Subsequently this event was identified as a concession and under the council’s procurement policy and best value duty required a formal tendering process to be undertaken which commenced in 2023.”

According to the Nottingham Post, DHP has declined to comment at this stage, but said in a previous statement: “We understand the council, as owners of the Wollaton site, wanting to check that they are getting value for money for city residents from our deal.

“We are confident that’s what we offer already, and that’s what we can offer in the future. We have ambitious plans to make Splendour an even more popular and successful event.”

 


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UK festival joins ‘Drop a headliner’ campaign

Secret Garden Party (SGP) has announced it has signed up to independent collective Chai Wallahs’ Drop a Headliner campaign to focus on nurturing grassroots acts for its 2024 edition.

The UK festival, scheduled for Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, from 25-28 July, is foregoing big-name headliners in favour of allocating resources to supporting rising acts.

The move represents a call to action to save the indie scene, with 34 major events having already declared a postponement, cancellation or complete closure this year, and the Music Venues Trust reports that 16% of UK grassroots music venues have been lost in the last 12 months.

This year’s SGP lineup features more than 350 artists including Unkle, Crystal Fighters, Chinchilla, Franky Wah, Carly Wilford, Adelphi Music Factory, Jakkob, Omega Nebula, Technobrass and TC & The Groove. Chai Wallahs, The Living Room and Noiganica will also host dedicated venues to diverse, grassroots live music, while Save Our Scene, Parable Music, Dubtendo and Truth Tribe will provide stage takeovers.

“We believe in being a breeding ground for talent to grow,” says founder Freddie Fellowes. “Why allocate a massive budget to one or two headliners when it could fuel another 50 outstanding acts? This year’s focus is on providing grassroots artists the ability to shine, whilst actively redefining festival experiences for the future.”

“For the grassroots scene to survive and thrive, this talent needs platforms and opportunities to be able to develop, so we must address the disparity”

Launched in 2004, the 32,000-cap event has previously hosted performances by the likes of Lily Allen, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Florence & The Machine, The XX and Regina Spektor.

“Having been ardent supporters of the grassroots scene for over 20 years, we were chuffed when Secret Garden Party agreed to be the first independent festival to collaborate with us on the ‘Drop a Headliner’ campaign,” says Chai Wallahs’ founder Si Chai. “There is so much more enjoyment to be had in the discovery of new music, and please trust me when I say that there is a massive world of undiscovered talent. For the grassroots scene to survive and thrive, this talent needs platforms and opportunities to be able to develop, so we must address the disparity.”

The campaign notes that with headliners at that level commanding up to £150,000, SGP is taking the opportunity to re-allocate the figure to finance around 222 individual acts.

“This staggering number would create a marked upsurge in independent music and become a building block for its sustained growth,” it says.

Chai continues: “This campaign highlights not only the opportunities for programmers to be more creative with their million pound budgets, but also presents a chance to support a whole ecosystem of artists. It provides greater enjoyment to open minded music lovers, and a healthy alternative to playing the big name game.”

 


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UK festival apologises for delayed payments

The promoter of the UK’s Standon Calling has apologised after a number of acts and caterers complained they are still owed thousands of pounds from last year’s event.

The long-running independent festival most recently took place in Hertfordshire in July 2023, featuring acts such as Years & Years, Self Esteem, Bloc Party, The Human League, Rick Astley, Melanie C and KT Tunstall.

But some performers, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC they were owed amounts ranging from £150 (€176) to £12,000 (€14,000), while a food vendor claimed they were owed £13,000. Quizmasters and comedians have also come forward to say they have yet to be paid for their services.

Standon Calling director Alex Trenchard insists the matter is being dealt with.

“We apologise for the delay to a small number of payments from our 2023 festival,” says Trenchard. “We are in the process of fulfilling these and contacting any remaining performers and suppliers.

“We constantly review all aspects of the event so we can be sure to deliver the top-class experience our loyal audience deserves.”

“The time has come to try to find a balance between being big in some areas… and small and intimate in others but in a way that is affordable”

A compulsory strike-off notice for Standon Calling Limited was posted on Companies House on 5 September last year, but was discontinued four days later.

The BBC reports that Trenchard discussed the 10,000-cap festival’s rising costs in a public Facebook group, and raised the prospect of reducing the size of future editions.

“The time has come to try to find a balance between being big in some areas (main stage) and small and intimate in others but in a way that is affordable,” he posted. “It may [mean] some sacrifices and scaling back but we have to protect the future viability of the festival.”

Tickets are on sale now for Standon Calling 2024, priced £189. The lineup for the event, which is scheduled for 25-28 July, is yet to be announced.

Last week, UK trade body the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) launched a new campaign for a VAT reduction on festival tickets.

The 5% For Festivals campaign seeks to inform festival-goers about the problems that music festival promoters have faced over the last five years, and encourages them to contact their MPs to lobby for a VAT reduction on tickets.

 


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EXIT Festival chief salutes spirit of independence

EXIT boss Dušan Kovačević has shared the pros and cons of remaining independent in 2023 – and reflected on the festival’s new spin-off event in Montenegro.

Serbia’s best known festival, the 50,000-cap spectacular pulled in 200,000 punters to the Petrovaradin Fortress in Serbia over four days in July to see acts such as The Prodigy, Wu-Tang Clan, Skrillex, Eric Prydz, Alesso, Chase & Status, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Nina Kraviz. Its next edition is scheduled for 11-14 July 2024.

EXIT starred in IQ‘s recent feature on ten of Europe’s brightest independent festivals, and Kovačević speaks of the struggles of continuing to go it alone.

“The biggest challenge of remaining independent in 2023 is the increasing costs in the festival industry,” he tells IQ. “Corporate-backed festivals often have substantial financial resources, more marketing power, and established connections that allow them to gain needed funding more easily in the moments of crisis.

“We cannot forget the pandemic’s impact on the industry, and a great shift it made when it comes to consumer expectations. We are often required to adapt rapidly to high demands whilst facing financial challenges that we inherited from the pandemic period.”

“Independence allows us to think and grow beyond the financial reports”

Kovačević adds that rising costs such as artist fees, security measures, and logistical expenses, are a further strain on resources.

“Without the backing of major sponsors or investors, it can be challenging to maintain a sustainable business model and deliver a high-quality experience while keeping ticket prices fair,” he adds.

Nevertheless, Kovačević suggests the hard work is well worth to enable organisers to stay true to spirit of the event.

“Independence allows us to think and grow beyond the financial reports. Excel sheets are not the ultimate God of the festival, creativity and artistic expression is,” he says. “This way we get to cultivate the spirit of the festival that made it so magical in the first place. Freedom is undoubtedly the biggest benefit. We take a lot of pride in retaining artistic freedom.

“One of the most important things to us is growing and nurturing the soul of the festival. Even though we face a lot of competition in the region and the world, remaining independent allows us the freedom to express our vision, provide unforgettable experiences, be a part of the positive change in our community, and society as a whole without having to worry about short-term financial influxes that would limit us significantly.”

EXIT events in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, UAE, Netherlands, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Slovenia were visited by around half a million people in 2022, making it the largest number in the festival’s history.

“Ada Divine Awakening holds a unique place within our rich festival and event portfolio, as it authentically transforms and uplifts people’s lives”

While it was announced in June that EXIT’s Sea Dance spin-off would be leaving Montenegro, the team debuted the Ada Divine Awakening in the country last month on the island of Ada Bojana. Billed as offering “a powerful festival experience that combines life-force awakening retreat, educational workshops, incredible music & art, mindfulness and much more”, artists included Mose, Murray Kyle, Joseph Pepe Danza, Mushina and Tebra.

With a dedicated emphasis on ecology and environmental conservation, Ada Divine Awakening forged a partnership with the “Every Can Counts” project. In addition, organisers, attendees and volunteers came together to collect nearly two tons of waste from almost a kilometre of untamed beach in collaboration with the City of Ulcinj, Ulcinj Riviera, and DOO Komunalne djelatnosti – Ulcinj, along with the Remedies 20t Challenge initiative.

The intimate 500-cap gathering attracted attendees from more than 40 countries and will return from 13-18 September next year. Kovačević reveals plans are already afoot to expand the concept overseas.

“Ada Divine Awakening holds a unique place within our rich festival and event portfolio, as it authentically transforms and uplifts people’s lives,” says Kovačević. “It quickly grew into one of the leading consciousness and intimacy festivals in the world and we will be partnering with like-minded promoters to cast ADA magic through numerous spin-offs worldwide.”

Meanwhile, EXIT’s talent and management agency Echosystem, which was established earlier this year, recently announced that one of its clients, 17-year-old electronic music artist LANNA, has signed to CAA and will be represented by agent Maria May.

“I am very excited to take over supporting LANNA’s career,” says May. “As a strong proponent of supporting young female artists, I believe LANNA has the potential to reach the stars very fast.”

The full list of ten of the best indie gatherings appears in Issue 122 of IQ Magazine.

 


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IQ 122 out now: Stephan Thanscheidt, Sziget and more

IQ 122, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online now.

The September edition charts Stephan Thanscheidt’s journey from playing in punk bands to the CEO of FKP Scorpio, and analyses the lineups of 50 top European festivals, in collaboration with ROSTR.

Meanwhile, Mark Beaumont visits Sziget as the event celebrates 30 years and Adam Woods gives us the low down on the lowlands for this issue’s Netherlands market focus.

Elsewhere James Hanley shines a light on ten of Europe’s brightest indie festivals and finds out what makes them so special and, IQ reveals the Green Guardians 2023, our annual guide to the eco-warriors and innovators striving to make our venues and events more sustainable.

Plus, leading production managers weigh in while we profile several innovations new for the 2023 season.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Shain Shapiro discusses how we should be leading the change when it comes to supporting our local venues, and Michael Kümmerle explains how TikTok wants to expand promoters’ horizons.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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AIF launches APPG for independent festivals

The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for independent festivals.

The APPG says it will look at the unique value independent festivals bring, as well as the pressures that they face. It will include conversations with the suppliers who work with the festival sector, plus the landowners who support festivals across the UK.

During its first year, the APPG will reflect on the challenges faced by the sector in 2023, and look into prevalent topics including environmental impacts and solutions, women’s safety, crime and drug use, and touring visas for musicians.

“It’s been a very busy summer this year and I’ve met with a number of MPs as I’ve visited festivals across the UK,” says John Rostron, CEO, AIF.

“Whether they are attending and supporting festivals in their constituency, speaking at events, or enjoying festivals for fun, we’ve had some great conversations about the importance and vibrancy of the independent festival sector, as well as the challenges that festivals are currently facing. The Festivals APPG will enable us to carry these conversations into Westminster and enable dialogue between MPs and festivals all year round.”

“The APPG will enable us to carry conversations into Westminster and enable dialogue between MPs and festivals”

The initial APPG members include chair Giles Watling MP (Conservative) and vice chairs Kevin Brennan MP (Labour), Alex Davies Jones MP (Labour), Pete Wishart MP (SNP), Rt Hon Damian Green MP (Conservative), Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP (Conservative), and Mark Fletcher MP (Conservative).

Watling adds: “I am delighted and honoured to be elected as chairman of the APPG for Festivals. Globally, Britain leads the way in celebrating humanity through festivals, as people come together to enjoy their passions. This APPG will be open to any and all forms of festival, from rock and pop to classical to literary. There are wellness festivals, food festivals, and so many more – it will be a privilege to represent all of them and highlight their importance to Britain’s cultural offer.”

Secretariat services will be provided by political consultancy Pepper Shackleton Wellard (PSW), which will organise the APPG events, and co-ordinate with supporters and officers.

AIF is also in conversation with the British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA), the leading network and development agency for UK arts festivals and AFO (Association of Festival Organisers) to support the APPG.

 


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AIF targets festival first-timers with new scheme

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has launched a new campaign and fund aimed at increasing access to festivals for people aged 18+ across the UK.

The First Festival Campaign is based on the fact that many people who turned 18 during the Covid pandemic missed out on their first festival experience due to lockdown.

Anyone in the UK who was/is 18 years of age between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2023 can register interest in attending one of AIF’s member festivals via the First Festival website. Individuals and organisations are able to make donations to this campaign here.

Tickets will be released as funding targets are met, with eligible 18-year-olds on the waiting list able to buy a ticket for their chosen festival for just £18. Shambala, Kendal Calling, BlueDot, Nozstock: The Hidden Valley, End Of The Road and British Country Music Festival are among the initial sign ups.

“Everyone should have a first festival experience, and it should be a thrilling and vital part of every person’s journey into adulthood”

“I was speaking to some students recently who are set to graduate this year, and it became apparent that none of them had ever attended a festival,” says AIF CEO John Rostron. “It really hit me just what an impact Covid had on their lives. So we decided to do something about it. Everyone should have a first festival experience, and it should be a thrilling and vital part of every person’s journey into adulthood.

“So many of us have wonderful festival memories to share, and brilliant festival stories to tell. We’re hoping that there’ll be individuals and organisations who are able to spare some money to put into the fund to help people attend their first festivals this year.”

In launching the campaign, AIF has taken inspiration from European countries such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy where those turning 18 are given a voucher worth between €200 and €500 by their government to be spent on cultural events and activities.

The full list of festivals to have signed up includes 110 Above Presents: OTHR Festival; Above & Beyond Brighton Beach; Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival; BlueDot Festival; British Country Music Festival; Camp Wildfire Festival; Chase & Status Brighton Beach; Deva Fest; El Dorado; End of The Road Festival; Green Belt; Green Gathering; Kendal Calling; NASS Festival; Noisily; Nozstock: The Hidden Valley; PennFest; Readipop Festival; Rock Oyster; Shambala; Takedown Festival; UK Tech-Fest; Underneath The Stars Festival; Valley Fest; and We Out Here.

 


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AIF festivals to attract 3.3m fans in 2023

The UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has revealed its events are on course to attract a total audience of 3.3 million in 2023.

The trade body represents the interests of 105 UK music festivals, ranging from 500 to 80,000 capacity, including the likes of GreenBelt, El Dorado, Deershed, Valley Fest, End of The Road, Pitchfork London, Field Maneuvers and We Out Here.

Based on a survey of members carried out in April 2023, AIF festivals are heading for a collective gross revenue of £195 million this year, with a gross expenditure of £177m, while members will spend £36m on music talent.

The findings have been published in the organisation’s first ever Festival Forecast report, which provides economic forecasts for its membership, as well as detailing issues facing the sector and potential solutions, and will become a regular fixture in the music industry calendar.

“We wanted to better understand the collective impact and the collective issues that our festivals share”

“As the number of festivals joining AIF grows, we wanted to better understand the collective impact and the collective issues that our festivals share,” says AIF CEO John Rostron. “The AIF Festival Forecast is an important snapshot of where we are as an association of events at this time. It will inform our work over the coming months, and support policy makers and the wider sector in better understanding the vital role AIF festivals play in the music ecosystem.”

The AIF membership will stage 11,853 performances collectively this summer, with 74% of members featuring female headliners on their bill, and 15% having a 50/50 male/female headline split.

The report also identifies a number of key issues facing member festivals in 2023, along with concrete solutions that will be spearheaded by AIF. These include continued lobbying for a VAT reduction from 20% to 5% for festivals in the face of rising supply chain costs; and public facing campaigns for government support for young audiences affected by the cost of living crisis and Covid closures.

The 2023 edition of the Festival Forecast report can be found here.

 


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