Punx Close To Death

The cancellation of Prague City Festival has left Czech promoter Punx Not Dead looking like it’s pretty close to it.

Company chief Borek Jirík says the company is insolvent and has liabilities of about euro 750,000, including refunds to thousands of ticketholders.

The writing was on the wall when acts forced Jirík’s hand by threatening to pull out if overdue deposits weren’t paid and the city of Prague didn’t come through with whatever promises it may have made regarding funding.

Jirík claims the city pulled its support for the festival June 4, less than a month before the event, although that hasn’t satisfied local media and those who planned and paid for their trip to Prague.

The festival didn’t cancel the event until June 16, when a note appeared on its website. “With our deepest regrets, we are forced to announce Prague City Festival will not take place,” it said.

A day earlier, Paul Bolton of X-Ray Touring, who had White Lies on the Prague bill, received an email informing him the festival was canceled. He says the band will take legal action if necessary to cover the costs it’s incurred.
At press time, it wasn’t possible to find out the details of Jirík’s agreement with the city or when he’ll be able to make the outstanding ticket refunds.

“The only way we can settle with anybody is with the cooperation of the court,” he said, although as of July 2 the company hadn’t yet made the bankruptcy filing.

Jirík also told Pollstar that “it’s about time to retire from the promoters business.”

Tickets.de and CTS Eventim have already started giving fans their money back, but The Prague Post is reporting that Ticketportal won’t be making any refunds for the festival until Punx Not Dead returns the ticket money it’s already been paid as an advance.

On June 26 the English-language paper quoted Ticketportal managing director Lucia Bocánková saying the company’s now been forced to take legal steps to get the money returned.

It also quoted Czech-based promoter David Urban describing Jirík as “a reckless egomaniac who’s betrayed a number of people in the business.”

“He’s done a lot of damage to the reputation of the Czech music industry,” said another unnamed local festival promoter. “He’s caused a mess that will take a year or more to clean up.”

Jirík is already involved in a legal tussle with former partner Nick Hobbs, head of Istanbul-based Charmenko, who’s so far filed two lawsuits against him.

In 2008 Charmenko set up Charm Music, a joint venture with Jirík to promote shows in the Czech Republic. However, Charm Music ran up losses of hundreds of thousands of euros. Jirík has since resigned as executive director and hasn’t been involved in the running of the business for a couple of years.

He’s still hanging on to his shares but so far refuses to come up with his half of the costs that Charm Music, a 50-50 partnership, ran up while he was at the helm.

Hobbs’ lawyers have subsequently looked into how Jirík was running Charm and discovered he’d made unauthorised drawings from company funds.

Prague City Festival started in 2011 and, despite pulling more than 5,000 people per day, it reportedly lost more than $100,000.

This year’s sales are reported to be better, although many tickets were sold at two for the price of one.

The other acts lined up for this year’s gathering June 29-30 included New Order, Blink-182, LostProphets, Simple Plan, Hadouken, The All-American Rejects and Black Stone Cherry.