Concert and festival promoter Festival Network LLC is in financial straits and is believed to have lost $5 million to $6 million in 2008, TicketNews has learned. The company, which hosts festivals in upscale locales such as Newport, RI, Saratoga, NY and Jackson Hole, WY, has closed offices, laid off an undisclosed number of employees and may shut down several of its signature festivals due in part to difficulty in raising new capital and a cutback in funding from JVC for jazz shows.
“Like many companies in these unprecedented times, Festival Network is responsibly cutting back on operating costs to best prepare for the 2009 season,” a Festival Network spokesperson told TicketNews. The company’s New York office remains open, but the San Francisco office was merged with it. “We are currently in the process of restructuring the organization and will focus immediate efforts on our core festivals.”
Festival Network bought George Wein’s Festival Productions in 2007 and added three “lifestyle” festivals to its mix last year, which may have overextended the company’s offerings. Wein declined a request for an interview for this article.
The company’s core festivals include the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, CA (June 13-14); JVC Jazz Festival New York in New York City (June 15-27); the Hampton Jazz Festival in Hampton, VA (June 26-28); Saratoga Jazz Festival in Saratoga, NY (June 27-28); the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI (July 31-August 2); the JVC Jazz Festival Newport in Newport, RI (August 7-9); and the JVC Jazz Festival Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA (August 23). It is possible that some of these festivals might not happen.
Past festivals currently not on their schedule include Martha’s Vineyard Festival, (MA); JVC Jazz Festival Miami (FL); Jackson Hole Music Festival (WY); Festival Au Desert – Essakane (Mali); JVC Jazz Festival Chicago (IL); San Francisco Music Festival (CA); Whistler Music Festival (BC); JVC Jazz Festival Los Angeles (CA); Slow Food Rocks (CA); and JVC Jazz Festival Paris (FRA). The JVC North Sea Jazz Festival (NET) will happen but without Festival Network.
The Whistler, Slow Food and Jackson Hole festivals were new last year, and start-up costs for new festivals are quite costly. In addition, the company also did not advertise the acts until only about six to eight weeks before the shows, which is considered very late. Ironically, Whistler battled Live Nation’s successful Pernberton Festival in 2008, but Permberton was just canceled for 2009, leaving British Columbia without a music festival this summer.