Electric Picnic was in doubt over poor 2012 sales - promoter

Just 22,000 fans turned up last year - well short of the target to break even

Karen, Louise and Emily from Paperdolls Performance Company at the launch in Dublin yesterday of the Electric Picnic, which marks its 10th birthday this year.

Karen, Louise and Emily from Paperdolls Performance Company at the launch in Dublin yesterday of the Electric Picnic, which marks its 10th birthday this year.

Fri, Apr 26, 2013, 11:34

Electric Picnic promoter Melvin Benn has said this year’s festival was in doubt at one stage because of poor attendances last year.

Mr Benn, of Festival Republic, said the delay in announcing this year’s line up was over the direction of the festival and what the ticket price should be.

“Let’s not beat about the bush, we had a difficult year last year,” he explained adding that the festival attracted just 22,000 punters, well short of the 30,000 capacity.

The line-up was finally announced yesterday morning with headliners in Bjork, Fatboy Slim and Arctic Monkeys.

Four more acts were announced last night including My Bloody Valentine who are likely to be one of the bigger draws of the festival.

Mr Benn said the late announcement of the acts was due to the booking schedule being a “dynamic process” and all the details had not been signed of with the acts involved until after the initial announcement. There will be no more announcements over the coming days.

Mr Benn admitted that there is still a “schism” between himself and promoter John Reynolds of Pod concerts, one of the original founders of the festival in 2004.

He continues to own 29 per cent of the festival. Mr Reynolds has taken court proceedings against Festival Republic alleging that he has not been allowed to operate the festival in a way that was agreed when Festival Republic became involved in 2009. The case was adjourned earlier this month for mediation.

Mr Benn said: “John Reynolds is a shareholder. He has 29 per cent of the festival and we are delighted that he does. We’d be more delighted if he was more involved in the festival.

“At the moment he is involved to a certain extent but there are obviously arguments going on. The reality is that the Electric Picnic is bigger than any one person.

“It has always been about a huge amount of people. John has brought that together. He has had a vision for a lot of it, but the truth is that it has always been about lots of people and they, in the main, are still involved.

“My desire would be that we don’t fall out anymore and that we are back together again. I still think we are friends. I wish no ill of anybody let alone John.”

Mr Benn maintained that the reason that punters have stayed away from the festival in recent years has been as a result of high prices which is why there has been reductions for those who have attended in recent years and an early bird sale.

“Ultimately my overriding belief is that the ticket price was too high,” he said.

“In 2007 and 2008, when people thought money was growing on trees and tickets were €230, people didn’t think about it, but times are tough now so I have been really keen about reducing the ticket prices.

“I came up with a mechanic of trying to reward people for having been there. The cheapest tickets is €80 cheaper than it was last year. That is going to bring people back.

“It is my belief that the Picnic is just a brilliant event. We wanted to make it happen.”