Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Is this the end of unforeseen circumstances?

It’s been a quiet summer for our old friend unforeseen circumstances. While there have been a few shows which have performed below-par, there hasn’t really been sight nor sound of unforeseen circumstances, which has to be a welcome development as …

Tue, Aug 23, 2011, 09:35

   

It’s been a quiet summer for our old friend unforeseen circumstances. While there have been a few shows which have performed below-par, there hasn’t really been sight nor sound of unforeseen circumstances, which has to be a welcome development as that excuse was getting a little old.

But shows are still being pulled at the last minute and a new set of unforeseen circumstances are being minted to explain the cancellations. The People’s Festival was due to take place last weekend in Dun Laoghaire, but was cancelled at the “11th hour” due to “oversights involved in the festival’s planning”, per the organisers. Instead, acts who were due to perform at the south county Dublin festival played at such city-centre venues as the Button Factory, Sweeney Mongrel, and the Stags Head.

Ironically, one of the reasons behind the People’s Festival, which was organised by The People’s Collective, was to replace the Festival Of World Cultures which was itself cancelled last year by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Meanwhile, the festival’s official website appears to have stopped working.

Then, there’s the cancellation of a big dance show at the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare mooted for September 2 and 3. Edge of the World was set to feature Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance jigathon along with performances from the Kilfenora Ceili Band, Finbar Furey and others. However, organisers MPO Promotions (a company “involved in the promotion of exciting cultural events at unique locations”) 86′d the extravaganza at the weekend saying that “Ireland’s tough economic climate” has been a major factor in taking the decision.

Speaking on the John Murray Show yesterday morning, MPO’s Oliver O’Connell said that while ticket sales had been healthy, it was various suppliers (O’Connell mentioned health and safety reports and advertisements) looking for upfront payments and the unwillingness of the bank to advance him loans to pay the bills which scuppered the shows. In advance promotion for the show, O’Connell, a former plant hire operator, hoped the show would generate €12 million in tourism spend in Co Clare. However, it now appears that Clare County Council lost €50,000 on the venture, while O’Connell is €200,000 out of pocket, per this Examiner report.

It’s telling that it’s often the less established promoters who come a-cropper when it comes to ambitious shows of this ilk. Despite a collective delusion to the contrary, putting on a live music or dance show or festival is not quite as easy as you might think. As we saw last summer with Rockefeller Productions, there’s a reason why the bigger promoters are still in the game many years after they’ve started out. This comes down to the experience they’ve gained and the market clout they now enjoy, both of which has taken them some time to acquire – you don’t become a big-shot promoter overnight. Sure, the big guns have also had disasters, but they’ve got back up on the horse and got back into business with another show the following week. While we’re certain to see other new promoters and would-be Dinny Desmonds having a go with shows and festivals in the future, let’s hope at least that we have seen the end of the use of unforeseen circumstances to explain away cancellations and poor selling shows.

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