Festival Republic Buys In To Berlin

The UK’s Festival Republic has acquired a 51 percent share of Berlin Festival in a deal that included buying stock from at least three of the event’s shareholders.

Magazine publisher Matthias Hörstmann has had a stake in the event since 2009. His publications include German sports magazine 11 Freunde, Sneaker Freaker and Intro, the recently revamped music mag.

The other shareholders are Berlin Festival co-founders Cornelius Opper and Hilary Kavanagh, who ran the event at various Berlin venues between 2005 and 2007.

Festival Republic co-owner Denis Desmond, who sold his share of Berlin Festival to Opper and Kavanagh after the 2007 edition, confirmed the deal has involved buying back stock from both of them and also buying some from Hörstmann.

In its early years, the festival struggled to establish itself beyond pulling crowds of about 5,000, and actually took a break in the year before Hörstmann came on board.

The festival’s been on the up since then because Hörstmann, who is also a director of Melt Festival, brought in Stefan Lehmkuhl – who books the event – to run Berlin Festival and buy the talent for it.

In his first year Lehmkul moved the festival to the city’s Tempelhof Airport and almost doubled the crowd for a bill that included Deichkind, Pete Doherty, Jarvis Cocker, Dendemann, José González, Saint Etienne, and The Rifles.

Last year he upped it again and had a 15,000-capacity sellout, although the event was cut short when local police – apparently unnerved by the recent deaths in a crowd crush at Duisburg – became concerned at the number of people outside the 6,000-capacity Hangar 4, where Fatboy Slim and 2 Many DJs were on the bill.

The Festival Republic press release confirming the deal, which had been the subject of various rumours in recent weeks, made it clear Lehmkuhl will continue to book the acts.

Melt’s other ventures such as the festival at on the shores of the Gremminer See and its booking agency aren’t affected by the deal.
Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn is a director of the new company formed to run the event, along with Hörstmann, Opper, and Kavanagh.

When Berlin Festival moved to Tempelhof it also became part of Berlin Music Week, which also includes showcase conference Popkomm.

The festival takes place on the decommissioned airport and later in several clubs in the Kreuzberg district of the city, including Arena Club, Glashaus, Lido, Magnet, Comet, and Astra Kulturhaus.

The Tempelhof is capable of holding what would be Germany’s biggest festival but the site is co-owned by the state and the city of Berlin, which may be reluctant to use it for an event of that size.

This year’s Berlin Festival is Sept. 9-10. The Melt lineup for July 15-17 has Pulp, White Lies, Robyn, Beady Eye, Chase & Status, The Streets, Atari Teenage Riot, Calvin Harris, Boys Noize, Everything Everything, and Crystal Fighters.