Europe’s Not Top Of Republic Agenda

The newly formed Festival Republic didn’t take long to start empire-building, moving in on the U.S. market to start a new open-air in cahoots with C3 Presents – the company that produces Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits festivals.

But Melvin Benn’s new British company is more focused on finding a twin for the new Vineland Festival in America than creating or acquiring more European events.

Vineland, N.J., lies halfway between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, but Benn says he’s yet to find a suitable site for its European twin.

"That’s the number-one priority," he told Pollstar, admitting he’d like to try again in the Spanish and German markets.

"I’d like to create a festival in Spain but it would not be for two or three years," Benn said. He shrugged off the notion of any conflict of interest as Denis Desmond, whose Gaiety Productions owns half the Festival Republic shares, already has a share in Benicassim, historically the country’s top outdoor.

"One of my shareholders has a 20 percent stake in a Spanish festival and my former [Mean Fiddler] chairman also has 20 percent stake, but I wouldn’t want to go in like that. I’d want to create a new event.

"It’s a good market because the Brits love it and the northern Europeans love it and it’s a beautiful country with wide open spaces."

He said he would also like to have another try at starting an event in Germany, but that’s likely to be even further down the line than Spain.

As far as territories with Live Nation festivals are concerned, such as Holland and Germany, Benn said his new company – named Festival Republic because it’s "an independent little domain" – isn’t under any pressure to stay clear of them.

"There’s never been anything of that sort mentioned," he explained, although he also said the festivals run by Leon Ramakers’ Mojo Concerts in Holland and Herman Schueremans’ Belgian wing of Live Nation are doing so well that he wouldn’t look at either territory.

"Culturally, it’s a little different and I wouldn’t want to start in either market without a local partner and, being relatively small markets, I don’t think there’s room for expansion there," he explained.

One piece of European business he will be taking care of is finding a new major sponsor for the Reading and Leeds festivals.

After a nine-year partnership, Festival Republic has announced that Carling brewers will no longer be the headline sponsor for either event.

The apparently successful long-term partnership was halted by mutual agreement, with both parties saying the time was right to pursue new opportunities.

Benn and his Festival Republic team announced they’re moving from Harlesden to central London. Festival Republic is now at 35 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7AU. Telephone + 44 (0) 207 009 3000.