On 8th February 2015, respected Swansea based Delusion Events, which joint hosted the Trance arena at the 2014 festival, released a damning statement publicly accusing some of the other organisers of the Together Festival of financial malpractice and mismanagement. This has been quickly followed by statements being released by some of the other parties with counter accusations of negligence and unprofessional conduct.
This sudden public airing of grievances will have come as a surprise to many of the music fans who had been eagerly awaiting news of a Together Festival for 2015. Such is the strength of feelings following the event that Nash Gooderham, Chief Executive of Live Management Group, told TranceFixxed that a 2015 festival will NOT be going ahead due to the extent of the financial losses incurred at the 2014 event and due to the irreconcilable differences between certain stakeholders.
So what really happened last May? A TranceFixxed investigation including interviews with the key people involved has revealed a tale of confusion and broken promises, culminating in passionate, hard working people who have incurred significantly damaging financial loss, angry and disillusioned with the events, raging at perceived injustices.
Together Festival 2014
On 31st May 2014, the Together Festival was held in Carmarthen. The festival was a brand new event and was Wales’ biggest multi-genre music event in 5 years, so expectations were high that this would be the start of something big. For the music fans who attended on the day, the sun shone, the showground was buzzing and the event was widely hailed as a success. There were of course teething problems, especially with the camping, but nothing significant enough to detract from the positive experience had by the majority who attended.
The 2014 Together Festival was set up and organised as a collaborative partnership between Birmingham based Live Management Group (LMG), local photographer Jason Thomas from Carmarthen, Craig Davies, Managing Director of Obsession Artist Management, and the brands which hosted the different arenas which included Delusion Events. With a common passion for music, the partnership was built on goodwill, trust and close communication. Without one organisation or individual taking the overall lead in the venture it meant there was a wider group who would all benefit from the festival, any losses would be spread around, and all parties would have a say in how the event was organised. However, it also meant that there wasn’t one entity orchestrating the arrangements, and the agreement of roles and responsibilities and communication weren’t as tight as they could have been.
The first sign of problems was when the paper tickets for the event were printed and distributed without barcodes as originally requested by one of the partners, which made accounting for the individual tickets significantly harder. The tickets were distributed to trusted local distributors covering South Wales and the South West and initially ticket sales went well. Certain distributors were more successful than others but further sales were hampered by logistical problems redistributing the printed tickets to where they were needed most, which contributed to not all the tickets being sold prior to the event.
The capacity for the festival was 5,000 people, but on the day only 3,032 fans attended the event with 500 of them entering with free guest passes. Any event where only 50% of capacity are paying fans would struggle to make a profit and for the organisers of the fledgling Together Festival this would have been a bitter blow.
LMG were responsible for the financial accounting for the festival so should have been involved or at least aware of all procurement for the festival. However, due to reasons which are still disputed, certain individual(s) representing the festival arranged suppliers and service providers without properly communicating to all of the other partners which resulted in unexpected invoices requesting payment being provided to LMG in the weeks and months which followed the festival.
LMG explained to TranceFixxxed what else they believe caused the 2014 festival to be over budget:
“Extra arenas were added against our advice, thus raising the costs of marquees, staff, security and lighting etc. Secondly the camping option was added. The interest in camping was far lower than any revenue received from adding this feature and therefore did not outweigh the significant costs of offering this facility. LMG again did advise against this initially.”
Craig Davies shared a different perspective of where the additional costs came from:
“The number of arenas were the same from day one. One of the arenas had higher artist costs as more well known names acts such as Judge Jules were performing, which were necessary to help sell tickets. The costs of security were inflated and health and safety costs were £20k. When asked, the organisers of other festivals advised me they were surprised a third party was paid to do this, as they would have expected this to be done by LMG.”
The uncontrolled spending and lower than expected ticket sales subsequently meant the organisers incurred substantial financial losses and caused LMG to delay publication of the festival accounts to the other parties in their partners until such time as the full financial picture was clear.
LMG are adamant that a ‘break even figure’ for the festival had not been established prior to the festival due to the uncertainty around some of the costs. A number of the other stakeholders are equally adamant that a ‘break even figure’ had been advised up front, with 2,400 ticket sales being quoted by Delusion Events. This disparity in expectations meant that some of the brands still expected to make a return on their investment based the actual number of tickets sold, so when LMG advised of the financial loss and declined to provide evidence in the form of the accounts, some people cried foul play.
When he spoke to TranceFixxed, Nash Gooderham accepted that the allegations against LMG will not be completely addressed until the festival accounts have been published, which is why, Nash confirmed, LMG “will send the accounts out this week via recorded 1st class delivery” to the other partners in the festival management team.
(Ed Note: Confirmation that the accounts have been received and that they detail expenditure in accordance with what LMG have advised is still pending at the time of writing, although no evidence has been shared with TranceFixxed to indicate that LMG are not trustworthy.)
Allegations have also been made against Craig Davies about perceived discrepancies with the paper ticket sales, based on the amount paid to LMG for the ticket sales and the lack of accountability for the location of the unpaid tickets.
Craig Davies responded:
“In the last few days of the site build, I was told by suppliers of Sound and Light in the main arena that they had not been paid and were not going to unload the lorries until they were paid the unpaid invoices which had been sent to LMG. So the last couple of days building up to the event was spent driving up and down the country collecting ticket sales money which was then paid to these suppliers on the Friday (the day before the event). All other money collected from tickets sold was transferred directly to the LMG account.”
In a recent Facebook statement, Craig acknowledged that “a few of the tickets were distributed to new sellers who have since misplaced them” but has evidence that “the majority of tickets have been accounted for”; LMG disputes this, and discussions between them are ongoing.
(Ed Note: Craig Davies as Managing Director of Obsession Artist Management and Brand Marketing Manager at Escape Swansea has been a popular, highly respected and prominent member of the South Wales music community for over 6 years. TranceFixxed cannot categorically confirm or deny the allegations against him, but we would like to put it on record that if they are true, it will have been an act out of character against his previous trustworthy reputation.)
During our discussions with LMG, Nash Gooderham kindly facilitated the provision of an official statement regarding the 2014 Together Festival for our publication, which is as follows: