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Live Nation, Gaiety and SJM acquire stake in Boomtown

Live Nation Entertainment, Gaiety and SJM have collectively taken a 45% stake in British festival Boomtown Fair, with Live Nation UK & Ireland chair Denis Desmond and chief operating officer Stuart Douglas joining the event’s board. 

Companies House filings show that Desmond and Douglas joined the board of Boomtown Festival UK and its parent company Circus of Boom as directors on July 6. 

Live Nation UK & Ireland acquired 18% while fellow promoters Gaiety acquired 18% and SJM acquired 9% to make up the 45% stake. 

A Boomtown representative said: “For us as a business, our vision has always been very clear, we are a festival like no other – a full living theatre which is set around friends, community, and creative spirit.

“Like many other businesses in our industry, due to COVID our landscape has changed, and to stay ahead we have had to adapt and be agile. It’s been a very tough few years.

“One of the decisions we came to in the last few months, as a direct result of the rising costs in staging such an epic and complex show, was to seek investment; a minority stake in the business from some of the most experienced names in the industry – SJM (9%), Gaiety (18%) and Live Nation (18%).

“This decision will not only allow Boomtown to continue its vision to be one of the most exciting festivals in the world, but it will also ensure the flexibility to continue to uphold independence on all decisions around business and creativity.”

The Hampshire festival was founded by Lak Mitchell and Chris Rutherford, who are both Bristol-based, in 2009. Boomtown was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and received a £991,000 Cultural Recovery Fund grant from the UK Government. 

More than 70,000 attended the most recent event, which ran between August 10 and 14. 

Rutherford added: “We are excited by the possibilities of this move, for us it’s business as usual, we still hold the keys, we are still running the show. We just have the safety of knowing there is now group support to help us pull through the tail end of these tricky years and provide stability for the future.

“This means we can continue to thrive, provide employment to one of the best festival crews in the world, and deliver to our audience the magic that is Boomtown. We feel incredibly lucky to still be here after such difficult times.”

Image: Sam Warrenger | TheFestivals/CC BY 4.0/Edited for size