Exclusive: Hop Farm Festival - the truth about extent of losses
08:36 04 March 2013
As plans push forward for the 2013 event, what of those services and performers still owed thousands?
The full extent of those owed money following the collapse into liquidation of the company behind music extravaganza the Hop Farm Festival can this week be revealed.
As Vince Power, the legendary music promoter behind the event vows to bounce back for 2013 and rise from the ashes, Kent on Sunday has obtained the full list of creditors from last year’s event.
When the company behind the festival collapsed last November it did so owing millions of pounds – including more than £163,000 to the popular Paddock Wood venue which it hires for the event – and in excess of £22,000 to Kent Police.
Remarkably, it also owed huge sums to some of the biggest performers from last summer’s event – among them headliners Peter Gabriel, who is listed among the creditors as being owed £100,000, and Suede who had £46,000 outstanding.
Other acts who were still chasing payment included the likes of Damien Rice, Billy Ocean, Primal Scream, Richard Ashcroft, Kool & The Gang, George Clinton and Sir Bruce Forsyth.
Mr Forsyth, the 85-year-old TV presenter, was making his first ever festival appearance. But by the time Kent Festival Ltd went into liquidation, it still owed the Strictly Come Dancing host £9,000.
Police chiefs this week confirmed they were still awaiting payment for a total of £22,648 plus VAT.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes said ultimately it was the local taxpayer who picked up the tab: “Kent Police is having to cope with a massive reduction in the Government grant it receives as Government cuts bite.
“This has led to the loss of nearly one in five of the workforce. The Chief Constable and all his staff are working hard to still deliver a great service in the face of these cuts. Any private organisation that holds an event on an agreed financial basis with the force and then ‘fails to pay’ is letting down not just the force, but all the people of Kent.”
The full list of creditors reveals Kent Festival owed more than £4.8 million.
Other local firms that are owed money include more than £200,000 to Sevenoaks-based events company Entertee and £12,644 to Maidstone’s Medevent Medical Service which provided essential paramedic services during the three-day event.
Kent Festival was a subsidiary of Music Festivals plc, the publicly-traded company run by industry veteran Vince Power. He was the promoter of the festival which had developed a niche audience, delivering legendary rock acts to tens of thousands of music fans and establishing a popular place on the calendar. Previous acts to have performed at the festival include the likes of Prince, Morrissey, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop.
But Music Festivals plc went into a financial nose-dive following last year’s event.
It warned it would record a loss and blamed poor ticket sales at the Paddock Wood festival as a key factor. Its other major event, the Spanish festival Benicassim, still recorded a profit, albeit lower than the previous year.
Music Festivals’ share-price plummeted and shares were eventually suspended in September. The company, which floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in the summer of 2011 valued at £10m, spluttered to a halt worth just £310,000.
By the end of September, Mr Power – a legend in the music industry who made his fortune through the Mean Fiddler empire and worked on festivals such as Reading and Glastonbury - had fired up All Music Live Ltd. Then all went quiet as Music Festivals plc went into the hands of administrators and ultimately Kent Festival Ltd was dissolved. Since then, All Music Live has acquired the rights to stage the Spanish festival, and the Hop Farm event.
Benicassim has already unveiled a major line-up with the likes of The Killers and Arctic Monkeys topping the bill.
Speaking to Kent on Sunday in January, Mr Power exclusively revealed to us he intended to stage the Hop Farm Festival again in 2013.
Abroad on business this week, a spokesman for Mr Power confirmed the festival is still planned and that an announcement is ‘imminent’. But they refused to be drawn on the scale of the festival and what investors were in place to prevent any repeat of the problems of 2013.
Mr Power previously told us: “As you know, we had a difficult year last year. Kent Festival Ltd was a different entity to Music Festivals plc and so had to be dealt with separately, which has taken some time.
“It was always my intention to do the Hop Farm, I have the rights to do the Hop Farm and the Hop Farm will take place from July 5-7, 2013.
“At the moment, we have sold a small amount of early bird tickets and we are confirming acts. We hope to announce the bill very shortly.”
Those early bird tickets apparently ‘sold out’ this week and came off sale.
No-one from the Hop Farm venue was able to respond when asked if they had received any of the £163,800 owed.
In January, spokesman Miguel Fenton refused to comment on the situation – saying only negotiations were on-going.
Previously, it had always maintained the festival would be going ahead as planned.