Festivals Back From The Dead

What were two of Norway’s biggest festivals and subsequently two of the its bankrupt festivals reemerged this year and Hove festival appears to be in a strong position moving forward.

It’s not that Quart Festival’s new owners Arild Buli and Trond Age Nyhus aren’t fighting their corner, having two VG reporters escorted off the site because they didn’t like what their paper wrote about the event.

Other journalists from Sandefjords Blad reported this year’s Quart dropped 10 million kroner ($1.56 million).
“It could be even more than that when all the bills have been paid,” Buli told Pollstar.

Along with Nyhus, who’ve both made money out of bars and real estate, Buli bought the festival name from the official receiver after it tanked last summer with reported debts of 16 million kroner ($2.5 million).

The 2008 gathering was scrapped at the last minute to avoid making matters even worse. The local council had pumped in millions of kroner over the previous two years and wasn’t prepared to pump in any more.

“This year every one of the artists has been paid and so have the major suppliers. All the smaller suppliers are being paid as their bills come in,” Buli explained. “Our main aim this year was to bring back the name of the festival and we expected a 10 million kroner loss, but what’s hurting us is this constant battle with the media.”

He said the Norwegian regional papers are saying it’s not possible to make such an event happen in Kristiansand. The VG staffers were shown the exit because the paper reported that the festival would stop after two days if the security company wasn’t paid. The head of the security company denies saying anything to the press.

“They came with this story a day before the money was even due to be paid, but they made it look as if we hadn’t paid something that we should have already paid,” Buli complained.

He said 3,000 people bought five-day tickets and the rest of the 10,000 or so daily crowd bought tickets for one or more days. He reckons he needs to shift another 5,000 five-day tickets to ensure the festival’s financial future.

Buli and his partners intend to do another Quart Festival next year.

The acts on the June 30 to July lineup included Black Eyed Peas, Marilyn Manson, Placebo, Korn, Slash & Friends, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Chris Cornell and Volbeat.

A week earlier and about an hour along the southeast coast at Arendal, former Quart Festival director Toffen Gunnufsen staged the third Hove Festival under new boss Festival Republic, the U.K. festival promoter run by Reading, Leeds, and Latitude chief Melvin Benn.

Gunnufsen left Quart in 2007 to start Hove in partnership with Morten Sandberg, chief exec of Concept Communications, the country’s leading sponsorship agency.

It did more than 10,000 per day in its first year and became Norway’s biggest annual outdoor – just slightly in front of Oslo’s Oya Festival – by pulling nearly 13,000 per day in 2008, but something was clearly going wrong behind the scenes. It sunk after the second year, owing creditors NKR 18 million ($2.81 million).

Festival Republic bought the event title from the official receiver and – as it was already Norway’s biggest festival – it would seem more careful stewardship will be needed to stem the way Hove must have been hemorrhaging money.

It wasn’t possible to get the June 22-25 ticket figures at press time, but unofficial reports suggest the event pulled more people than in the previous two years.

The acts on the bill included The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Slipknot, Faith No More, The Gaslight Anthem, White Lies, Fleet Foxes, Eagles Of Death Metal and The Ting Tings.