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Quart Festival Canceled

01:02 PM Friday 6/13/08 |   |

Norway's Quart Festival has been canceled and the organisers are in the process of filing the event for bankruptcy.

A note on the festival Web site says the decision to scrap this year's July 2-5 gathering was made "with great regret" and is due to "ticket sales being weaker than expected and budgetary concerns."

At press time it wasn't possible to contact the festival office or get details of how much money has been lost, although the organisers appear to have pulled the plug June 6 when Quart didn't have enough cash to pay artist deposits.

The acts on the bill included Kings of Leon, Justice, Death Cab For Cutie, Interpol, The Hives, Kaizers Orchestra, Kate Nash, Royksopp, and The Streets.

"It's sad but it's inevitable because there are too many festivals," said local Live Nation chief Rune Lem, who has been trying to help agents find alternative shows for their artists.

The Norwegian live music industry is rallying to help the event mount a damage limitation exercise, with Hove Festival (June 23-28) - its biggest rival - offering free entry to anyone holding a ticket for Quart.

The cancellation and bankruptcy has made front-page news in the national papers, with some reports suggesting the event has dropped as much as 30 million Norwegian krone (US$5.7 million) over the last two years.

The festival, for many years Norway's most popular and successful outdoor, was dealt a huge blow when director Toffen Gunnufsen, festival booker Peer Osmundsvaag and a few other Quart Festival staff left in 2007 to start Hove, which falls a week before Quart and is barely an hour away.

Gunnufsen's new festival, which is in Arendal, did well, but last year's Quart crowd dropped from the regular 12,000 per day to less than 5,000.

It left Kristiansand council's cultural department unable to get back much of the reported 12.9 million krona (about US$2.25 million) it had loaned without bankrupting the event.

Quart came so close to cancellation and financial disaster that the council's cultural department had to make a $1 million emergency loan mid-festival to ensure The Who got paid and the rain-lashed event ran its course.

Unconfirmed reports say sales of the four-day ticket for this year's Quart were as low as 300. It's also said to have shifted 1,000 day tickets, which could mean - with three weeks to go - the guaranteed attendance might have reached 600 per day.

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