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Glastonbury ends its Festival Republic alliance

By | Published on Wednesday 27 June 2012


The Glastonbury Festival’s alliance with Melvin Benn’s Festival Republic has ended, according to a statement issued by the latter yesterday.

Glastonbury entered into a partnership with Benn’s company, what was then still Mean Fiddler, in 2002, with the Reading Festival promoter taking on the licensing and operational elements of the Glastonbury Festival, partly to help reassure members of the local council’s licensing committee, who had expressed various concerns about the annual event, particularly regards the number of people gaining access to the festival’s site without tickets. It was a successful alliance, with the festival’s customary licensing challenges each spring becoming a thing of the past.

But ten years on that partnership is coming to an end, and Glastonbury will now appoint its own Operations Director to handle those areas of the event that have been led by Benn and Festival Republic for the last decade. Benn ends his latest period of involvement with Glastonbury on good terms with the festival’s chief, Michael Eavis, and the Festival Republic boss will be involved in appointing and briefing the new Operations Director, as well as helping to oversee the smooth passing of licensing control from his company back to the core Glastonbury enterprise. Benn says the move will enable him to focus more time on Festival Republic’s own events both in the UK and beyond, and on his role as Chairman of Wembley Stadium, which he took on just over a year ago.

Confirming he was stepping back from his Glastonbury involvement, Benn said: “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, I think. 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, not to mention my demands at Wembley. 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”.

Meanwhile Eavis said: “Melvin definitely earned his stripes running the gates for us during the 80s. That 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. 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. I’ve got just about the best team in the business, and Emily and Nick are heading up the next generation to take on more responsibility as well”.

Noting how wet it was last Friday and Saturday – what would have been Glastonbury weekend had the event not taken the year off – Eavis signed off by joking: “Looking across the farm at the moment I think we were very lucky to choose a good wet year to take out – an amazing bit of luck! See you all next year with a very promising line-up”.

As part of the original alliance, Festival Republic has a stake in Glastonbury Festivals 2011 Limited, the festival’s operations company. That stake will now be passed to Festival Republic’s parent company, a subsidiary of Live Nation, so to – says the statement – “secure the future of the festival”. The change will not affect the interest in that business held by The Workers Beer Company, the not-for-profit bars operator that works with Festival Republic at many of its festivals.