Live Nation Takes Root In Arras

Any French promoters hoping Live Nation Belgium chief Herman Schueremans’ efforts to grow Main Square Festival in Arras would come to a quick and expensive end will be disappointed by the news that his parent company has bought a controlling interest in the event.

As this year’s July 4-6 festival – the first Schueremans has been involved with – drew to a close, Live Nation announced it has purchased the major part of it. Terms were not disclosed.

"The acquisition of the Main Square Festival marks our first step in building world leading festivals in France," LN international music chief exec Alan Ridgeway said in a statement.

The comment could likely infuriate Salomon Hazot of Nous Productions and other French promoters who were publicly critical of Schueremans moving in on their territory.

At press time it wasn’t possible to get comment from Hazot, who referred to Schueremans as "the wolf in the sheep pen" when his involvement was first announced at a media conference in the city April 7.

Hazot at the time predicted that the Belgian promoter’s lack of local knowledge would result in him losing a lot of money through his involvement with the festival.

Other French promoters including Jules Frutos of Alias made it clear they’re not happy with Schueremans setting up festivals inside the French border.

Frutos, who is president of Prodiss, a 300-strong union of people working mainly in the French live entertainment business, said many French promoters aren’t happy about Arras but notes that it’s Europe and nothing can be done to prevent such encroachment.

Main Square Festival takes place each year in the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage town square of Arras, in northern France, about 200 kilometres from Paris.

France Leduc launched it in 2006, with Depeche Mode and Muse headlining the first edition and attracting almost 25,000 people each day.

The LN deal also includes other events organised by Leduc on the same site, including Celine Dion July 7 and the one-day Rock En France festival with Metallica August 14th.

Leduc and Schueremans will continue to run all three events in collaboration with Live Nation France President Jackie Lombard.

The company says the deal means its worldwide festival portfolio now has 30 events, with Ridgeway describing them as "a significant driver of our international business."

This year’s Arras bill included Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Justice, Boysnoize, Mika, The Kooks, Vampire Weekend and French ETEP success story The Do.