Tait expands in Europe with Brilliant Stages acquisition
Tait has acquired Brilliant Stages, the UK-based supplier of staging and design solutions to Coldplay, Take That, Spice Girls, Shawn Mendes and more, for an undisclosed sum.
Tait – founded in 1978 as Tait Towers – designs, constructs, manufactures and operates stages and installations for clients including the Rolling Stones, U2, Taylor Swift and Cirque du Soleil from its HQ in Lilitz, Pennsylvania. The company, minority owned by Providence Equity Partners, in June acquired UK motion-control company Kinesys.
Brilliant Stages (Brilliant Topco Ltd) was established in Wakefield, Yorkshire, 1983 and has also worked with Hugh Jackman, the Dubai Mall and the Virgin Racing Formula 1 team.
Brilliant will remain a standalone brand for the time being, though the “combined management teams see the value of building a global brand” and say “branding decisions will […] be clarified in the coming months”.
“Culturally we are 100% aligned”
Ben Brooks, managing director of Brilliant Stages, says: “We have built the brand brick by brick with an equal focus on spectacle, design, employees and customers. That is what makes being part of Tait a perfect match; culturally we are 100% aligned.”
“This really is a perfect cultural match,” adds Adam Davis, chief creative officer of Tait. “We are excited to share with Brilliant our technology, assets and lessons learned over our 40 years in the live event business. We found a true partner in Brilliant and share a deep belief in delivering excellence to our customers and their fans.”
In addition to Tait, Providence Equity Partners’ live events investments include festival operator Superstruct Entertainment, UK venue manager Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) and event tech conglomerate Patron Technology.
Tramlines names Nulty stage in honour of late director
The main stage at Sheffield’s Tramlines festival will be renamed ‘Nulty’s Main Stage’ to honour the festival’s late co-founder and director, Sarah Nulty.
Nulty helped to found Tramlines in 2009 and became festival director in 2013. She died aged 36, just three weeks before the festival’s tenth anniversary, following a short illness.
“Sarah was the driving force behind the festival, so it felt completely fitting to rename the main stage in her honour and as a memorial for everything she’s done for us,” comments festival organiser, Danielle Gigg.
“We will continue to raise money for Weston Park Cancer Charity and Cavendish Cancer Care who both helped her so much.”
“Sarah was the driving force behind the festival, so it felt completely fitting to rename the main stage in her honour”
Last year, Tramlines raised £30,000 for the cancer charities through the sale of ‘Be More Nulty’ merchandise. The festival will continue to pay tribute to its co-founder this year through the merchandise, as well as the return of ‘Nulty’s Bar’.
Since her passing, Nulty has received several prizes for her contribution to the industry including an Outstanding Contribution Award from the Association of Independent Festivals and a Civic Award from the Lord Mayor of Sheffield. A memorial plaque was also unveiled on the original site of the Tramlines main stage.
The UK Festival Awards honoured Nulty with an Outstanding Contribution to Festivals Award and created a new category, the ‘Sarah Nulty Women in Festivals Award’.
Tramlines 2019 takes place from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 July. Headliners include Two Door Cinema Club, the Courteeners and Nile Rodgers and Chic. The festival moved to 40,000 capacity Hillsborough Park last year.
Providence invests in Tait Towers
Providence Equity Partners, the parent company of festival operator Superstruct Entertainment and event tech company Patron Technology, has invested in Tait, which designs and supplies concert touring infrastructure for some of the world’s biggest acts.
Tait – founded in 1978 as Tait Towers – designs, constructs, manufactures and operates stages and installations for a roster of clients that includes the Rolling Stones, U2, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Disney, Universal, Cirque du Soleil and Nike. The company, headquartered in Lilitz, Pennsylvania, but with offices across North America, Europe and Asia, has worked on 17 of the 20 highest-grossing tours of all time.
The investment from funds advised by Providence, terms of which were not disclosed, sees the private-equity firm become a major shareholder in Tait, with the company’s CEO and president, James ‘Winky’ Fairorth, and chief creative officer, Adam Davis, each retaining a “significant” stake.
Fairorth comments: “We are thrilled to partner with Providence to help take us through our next phase of growth. The firm has an impressive track record of investing in businesses that deliver world-class events and experiences. This growth equity investment is a testament to the breadth and depth of Tait’s talented team and unique culture of excellence, which have advanced industry standards and exceeded client expectations for over 40 years.”
“Providence is the ideal partner to help us accelerate our growth initiatives and strengthen our market position,” adds Davis. “We are proud to be a part of the Providence family and look forward to working with them to expand our offering for artists, entertainment companies and corporate brands that consistently turn to Tait for spectacular live experiences.”
“Our investment in Tait is a great fit with Providence’s growing portfolio of … businesses focused on live, out-of-home events and experiences”
In addition to Patron – which recently acquired festival app developer Greencopper and event management outfit Marcato – and fast-growing Superstruct, whose most recent acquisition is Finland’s Flow Festival, Providence’s US$40bn worth of investments include venue operator Ambassador Theatre Group, sports marketing agency Learfield, US football league Major League Soccer and the World Triathlon Corporation, which organises the Ironman championship.
Scott Marimow, managing director of Providence, says: “Tait is regarded as the gold standard in the industry for its differentiated capabilities, global presence, client relationships and track record of delivering the finest live event solutions in the world. The company is also well positioned for sustainable growth from strong, secular trends, as artists, entertainment concepts and brands are spending more on live events and production quality to create memorable experiences that drive heightened consumer engagement and sharing across social media.
“We are excited to partner with such a passionate management team and look forward to working together.”
Michael Dominguez, also MD of Providence, adds: “Over the past four decades, Tait has grown to become an industry leader. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with an outstanding team in order to accelerate the company’s growth and further invest in its vast IP portfolio and technological capabilities, which are applicable across multiple client types and end markets.
“Our investment in Tait is a great fit with Providence’s growing portfolio of category leading businesses focused on live, out-of-home events and experiences that are highly valued in an increasingly digital world, and that continue to benefit from attractive underlying consumer trends.”
First cashless UK venue opens this month
The UK is to get its first cashless music venue.
It is thought Stage in Basingstoke will be the first venue in the country where cash won’t be accepted behind the bar when it opens later this month.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) payment technology is already in widespread use in the festival world, and a number of festivals are totally cashless, including Sziget, Standon Calling, Snowbombing and SFX events Mysteryland USA and the not-happening-this-year TomorrowWorld.
Download was briefly cashless last year but returned to a range of payment options for 2016 after its RFID system crashed on the 2015 festival’s first day.
“It keeps the venue safe: there can’t be a robbery of cash if there’s no cash in the venue”
Adam Hornblow, CEO of Stage Live Ltd, which owns the 1,400-capacity venue, tells Heart: “[Cashless] keeps the customers safe, it keeps the bar staff and your employees safe – and if they get given a tip they just keep it.
“If they’ve got any cash we know it’s theirs because it’s not ours, and it keeps the venue safe: there can’t be a robbery of cash if there’s no cash in the venue.”
Stage opens on 29 April with a show by The Boomtown Rats, Max Milner and Belle Roscoe.