Impact International: UK/Euro Honors
Problem Solving In Their DNA: Denis Desmond Is Proud Of His Team
The UK is one of the few countries overseas where festivals went ahead at full capacity this summer. Denis Desmond, Chairman, Live Nation UK & Ireland, says it has brought “a sense of normality back to the business. For artists and fans, hospitality and production staff, Download, Latitude, Camp Bestival, Wilderness, Parklife, Creamfields, TRNSMT, Reading and Leeds deliver much-needed light, and work, to our sector.”
Aside from coronavirus, the UK’s touring professionals have been faced with another challenge. “Brexit has added a layer of complexity to future touring,” says Desmond, who emphasizes “the immediate and most pressing issue is to get our international markets reopened.” Which is what his team of promoters is fully focused on, planning events through 2022, 2023 and beyond. On the one hand, “there’s a huge amount of pent-up demand and our promoters are busy preparing to meet that.” On the other, “there is a huge number of new artists, and we are looking forward to working with them and helping them build a live career,” Desmond explains.
Ireland, where Desmond was born and where he built an empire with MCD/LN-Gaiety, was initially ahead of UK and Europe when announcing its reopening plans. “Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they are now stalling even with a 90% vaccination rate and putting jobs and livelihoods at risk by refusing to open up live events,” Desmond explains. At press time, the capacity for live events was limited to 500, “a blow for fans and artists and an unnecessary blockage on Ireland’s road to recovery,” according to Desmond. Athough he’s credited with building the country’s live infrastructure and contributing to its economic growth way beyond the “Celtic Tiger period,” the pandemic has taught Desmond that “you never really know what’s round the corner so be prepared for everything.”
Desmond considers this industry “blessed that promoters have ‘problem solving’ written into their DNA. Our business has an astounding ability to rise to challenges. The team effort to keep the show on the road is incredible. I’m very proud of them. The low refund rate for live business is solid. I’m thankful to fans for their patience and for holding on to their tickets when shows are rescheduled for the third time.”
On top of that, Desmond can count on a “promoter team [that] is stronger than ever, developing new acts and new markets and opportunities for established ones. The future is stellar.”