There was much chatter on the net last night about the status of the company behind the acclaimed holiday-camp music festival All Tomorrow’s Parties, after a Twitter user spotted that the firm, led by ATP’s founder and promoter Barry Hogan, had gone into liquidation. Notice of a creditors meeting was published in The London Gazette last month.
Hogan admitted last year that ticket sales for the early-summer ATP events had declined in recent years, when he announced that moving forward his company would focus on its December holiday camp events, the city-based I’ll Be Your Mirror mini-festivals and more conventional tours. More recently he announced that ATP would be working with Pontins again on its holiday camp events, ending a six year partnership with Butlins, which with hindsight was likely due to the festival company tackling financial problems.
Hogan incorporated a new company at the end of May, called Willwal Ltd, and it is now listed as promoter of future ATP events, meaning that up coming tours and festivals being advertised by the firm will still go ahead. On Twitter last night, Team ATP wrote: “To address the rumours some of you may have seen; there are some changes currently happening with the company, but none of the currently scheduled events or future events will be affected”. Another statement is expected later today.
After having avoided the wobble experienced by the US live industry in 2010, the British live sector has had a challenging 2012, especially in the festivals space. As previously reported, a number of key festivals, large and small, have been called off this year, while some of those that have gone ahead have had noticeably smaller attendances (on occasion, embarrassingly so).
The distraction of the Olympics has been blamed by many promoters, while both Music Festivals plc boss Vince Power and MAMA Group chief Dean James have both criticised the BBC for plonking a big fat free-to-enter licence-fee-funded London-based festival (ie the Hackney Weekend) into the middle of an already crowded market place.
While the Olympics and the BBC’s Hackney Weekend almost certainly has had an impact (especially on those promoting London-based events), a lack of ‘new generation’ headline acts to fill a rock-biased festival calendar, the recession properly taking a grip, and pretty miserable weather (which becomes a factor once you are relying on last minute ticket sales) have all had an impact too.
Given that smaller players in the live sector operate on very tight profit margins even in the good times, it’s widely expected that a number of promoters could be facing administration or forced restructure in the current climate, with some speculating that at least one bigger player could be affected too. It’s not clear what suppliers will have been caught up in the liquidation of the ATP company, though given the popularity of the ATP event and brand, many will be pleased that both can continue via a new corporate entity.