Public Money Sparks Tinderbox Flare-Up

The fact the local council has put 23.4 million Danish krone ($4.09 million) into German promoter FKP Scorpio’s new Tinderbox Festival has sparked a bit of a flare-up in the country’s national press.

Some local promoters are bothered about the amount of money and the fact it’s gone to a foreign company. Danish promoter and ICO chief Kim Wørsoe told Politiken it was an “unheard of” amount, an unprecedented large support for a commercial festival and a huge helping hand to the Germans entering the Danish market.

The Danish paper revealed that 7 million krone ($1.2 million) was being handed over in the first year and that the funding deal stretches over five years.

The deal to hold the event on the outskirts of Odense, Denmark’s third-largest city behind Copenhagen and Aarhus, is for a 10-year term. The local authority in Odense was reportedly keen to host the festival, given that being the birthplace of world-famous children’s writer Hans Christian Andersen has for a long time been the city’s only pitch for tourism. The festival name of Tinderbox was taken from the title of one of Andersen’s best-known fairytales.

“The Germans in Denmark is obviously a frontal declaration of war against the established festivals,” Worsøe told Politiken, naming Roskilde, Smukfest and Jelling among those that will be disadvantaged. He said the Danish fests now have to compete under “crooked conditions.”

The Odense authority’s lawyers say the agreement with FKP complies with Danish and European Union regulations regarding competition and state aid. Poul Martin Bonde from Smukfest, which this year sold out its 50,000-capacity four months in advance, told Pollstar that his festival is more concerned about the amount of money than where it’s going.

“The concern is not so much about Tinderbox or the companies behind the festival, but about the fact that the commune of Odense is giving out more than DKR 20 million,” he told Pollstar. “[It’s] a support that obviously will give Tinderbox a big economic advantage compared to the other Danish festivals.”

Bonde says he believes FKP Scorpio has had more of an aggressive approach in Sweden, where the German company’s Bravalla soon overtook Peace & Love, which filed for bankruptcy and canceled its 2013 edition, as the country’s biggest festival. Brian Nielsen of Skandinavian, who co-promotes Denmark’s Northside Festival with FKP and is also part of Tinderbox, said he wasn’t aware of any of the major Danish festivals losing money in 2013.

“Most have had excellent results and Roskilde, Skanderborg (Smukfest) and Northside were all sold out,” he said. For Tinderbox, Koopmans and Nielsen are joined by Mads Sorensen, the former Live Nation promoter who now runs his own Copenhagen-based Beatbox Booking & Concerts.

Although the timing of next year’s Tinderbox (June 26-28) means it comes one week before Roskilde, the dates have been fixed to fall on the same weekend as Bravalla.

FKP is looking to twin Tinderbox and Bravalla in the same way as it has its Hurricane and Southside festivals in Germany, offering two slots at festivals with 50,000-plus capacities on the same weekend.