Benn Moves On From Glastonbury

Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn is standing down as license holder of Glastonbury Festival to focus on growing his own company’s brand on at least a pan-European basis.

Benn took over as premise license holder and operational controller of Glastonbury at the end of 2001, after Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis was prosecuted for exceeding capacity at the previous year’s event.

The 2002 license application faced opposition form the police and local authority, who had both made it clear that the world-famous outdoor had to ring the changes.

Eavis upgraded the security by spending £1 million on a fence designed to stop gatecrashers responsible for forcing Glastonbury to exceed its crowd limits.

He also brought in Benn, who was then with Mean Fiddler Music Group, to handle the license application, run the site infrastructure and ensure the festival had control over the gates.

Benn continued to work the event even after MFMG was sold to a partnership between Live Nation and Irish promoter Denis Desmond. That partnership, called Live Nation Gaiety, will now find the Festival Republic chief’s replacement.

After Benn’s departure, which is being described as “mutual and cordial,” he will focus on LNG’s Reading, Leeds and Latitude festival and the events it’s acquired since purchasing MFMG, such as Hove Festival in Norway, Germany’s Berlin Festival and Ireland’s Electric Picnic. He’s also chairman of London’s Wembley Stadium.

“Melvin definitely earned his stripes running the gates for us during the ’80s,” Eavis said in a statement recalling previous high-profile encounters in and around the Glastonbury site “This was a difficult time dealing with the closure of Stonehenge, the Battle of the Beanfield and the travellers and my attempts to accept them here at Worthy Farm was exciting but very challenging.

“We both learnt a lot about festivals then, and Melvin and I have managed to put together what is the Glastonbury we have now,” Eavis continued. “I’ll be sorry to see him go but he has masses of responsibility with all of his shows across the world and now is a good time to part company.”

Benn added, “From an operational point of view, myself and my team have taken the festival as far as we can and it is time for a change. It has been a wonderful journey with Michael but Latitude, Berlin, Hove and Electric Picnic, none of which existed in 2002, are my priorities, alongside maintaining Leeds and Reading as the bastions of the festival calendar they are.

“That said I am committed to ensuring as smooth a handover as possible to the new team in Pilton and enjoying Glastonbury for many years to come as a festival-goer myself,” Benn continued.

The changeover at Glastonbury appears to have been timed to coincide with a year when the 177,500-capacity festival isn’t taking place, as Eavis decided it would be good to take a break while the focus is on the 2012 Olympic Games in London.