One of the UK's best known live music venues, the Leeds Town and Country Club, has closed its doors. Formerly the Coliseum, the 1,800-capacity venue first opened its doors in October 1992 and has since played host to many high-profile acts including INXS, Blur, Mark Knopfler and The Stone Roses. It's not clear what will become of the venue, but there have been suggestions that First Leisure plan to re-open it as a theme bar and nightclub. Live music is taking something of a bashing in Leeds at the moment. In March came the announcement that the Duchess, a stalwart of the national gig circuit, was closing. It has been confirmed this week that it will reopen as a Karen Millen fashion outlet.
Following over two successful years with Propergander, Anna Morgan has left to form new public relations company, Media Ink. Launched in June, Media Ink provides a comprehensive public relations service to the events industry. The company has moved into offices in Wembley overlooking the Arena, and will work with clients across the spectrum, from the rock 'n' roll arena to corporate clients.
An investigation has been launched following the news over the weekend that eight fans had been crushed to death at the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen. Several others were also injured in the incident which occurred around midnight on Saturday when American rockers Pearl Jam were performing on stage. The front section of the 50,000-strong crowd slipped and the injured were trampled underfoot. Worryingly, the news reports covering the event have, in part, pointed the finger of blame at the sound system, claiming that the rear loudspeakers were not working thus forcing the audience forward. Oasis and the Pet Shop Boys both pulled out of the festival as a mark of respect for the dead, although other bands have chosen to play on. Technical investigations are being carried out and emergency support services have been set up on-site.
Despite the well-publicised financial crises at the Dome, managers and staff are to receive loyalty bonuses totalling up to £3 million. The payments are intended to reverse the exodus of Dome personnel in recent months - over 400 of the 2,000-strong team have already left - and reward staff who see out their contracts. The bonuses seem to go against the grain of recent cost-cutting measures and include payments to four board directors, with former chief executive Jennie Page, also in the line-up for a hand-out. £2 million will be shared between the Dome's 300 managers, while a further £1 million will be split between the 900 hosts who show visitors around.
Just months after buying the chain from First Leisure, Candover has sold its 14 Brannigans bars, along with six other pubs, for £67 million. The new owner is Mustard Entertainment Restaurants, a recently-established venture backed by investment company Phildrew Ventures. Candover secured the Brannigans bars last November, as part of its £210.5 million acquisition of First Leisure's 40 nightclubs and 25 bars. It intends to keep the remaining bars and has also signalled its intention to expand its portfolio of nightclubs.
lastminute.com has joined forces with promoter SFX to offer the latter's products to lastminute.com's subscribers. Both companies have been much in the news lately, lastminute for its share issue and SFX for its expanding empire - the company operates and manages 79 venues in the UK, including several major West End theatres. Under the terms of the deal, SFX will market any unsold tickets from its own distribution network on lastminute.com's website. If the new arrangement is successful, the companies plan to extend the agreement into other European countries.
PLASA Publishing has learnt that there has been a second fatal accident at Earls Court. The venue owners have confirmed that the accident occurred at 7.10pm on Friday 23 June and that the individual involved was working for Unusual Rigging, who are contracted to the venue. EC management and the relevant authorities have launched an investigation into the incident. The news comes six months after the death in December last year of a rigger working on a backstage event for the Spice Girls, who fell 80 feet whilst breaking down the after-show party. An investigation into that incident is still ongoing.
Bob Geldof is planning a major New Year's Eve event in London. Through his company, 10 Alps, he has won the contract to stage a spectacular show in the capital which promises to build on last year's River of Light New Year's Eve celebrations. To help him on his way, he has managed to secure £1.5m of Lottery Funding and is now looking for sponsors to weigh in with their contributions. No details have emerged yet of what's been planned, but we will keep you up to date as we learn more.
Michael Kaiser, executive director of the Royal Opera House, has resigned. Kaiser, who has been in the job less than two years, plans to leave by June 2001 and return to America. He is the latest in a long line of executive directors to leave the Royal Opera House and his decision comes at a time when the House seems at last to be putting behind it the funding controversies and technical problems that dogged its reopening.
The Queens Birthday Honours list paid tribute to a number of those working on the creative and technical sides of the arts and entertainment industry. Theatre director, and more latterly Oscar-winning film director, Sam Mendes was rewarded with a CBE for his services to drama. Two of the principal talents behind the Dome were also honoured; Timothy Gardom, responsible for the content of the body and faith zones, becomes an MBE, while Mark Fisher receives an OBE for his work as creative director of the Millennium Show staged in the Dome's central arena. Vivien Duffield, a director of the Royal Opera House for 14 years who is credited with raising £100m for the recent £214m refurbishment, was awarded a DBE, whilst Neil Bartlett, artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith, and Derek Deane, artistic director of the English National Ballet both received OBEs.
PLASA's annual AGM took place at The Belfry Hotel near Birmingham on June 15th, attended by around 60 representatives of member companies. PLASA Chairman Mick Hannaford reported on a successful year for the Association which had seen key advances in the range of services and initiatives offered to members. He also covered the Association's review of its Code of Ethics, outlining the way in which a Code of Business Ethics and an Appeals Procedure might be implemented. It is a move the Association has been wishing to make for some time and will give PLASA more direct powers to act in the interests of all the members by dealing with companies who fail to meet certain standards. Afterwards, the Members voted in favour of adopting the Code.PLASA Treasurer Sammy de Havilland then outlined the financial position of the Association noting that it had reached its reserve targets and was now in a strong position to drive new initiatives forward. Following the AGM, PLASA MD Matthew Griffiths gave a brief presentation on the future of the Association. He talked first about the PLASA Show and how successful the Exhibitor Forum had been in influencing its shape and format. He also highlighted the introduction of a number of new features for the Show this year, including a new technology showcase. Matthew then referred to one of the key projects PLASA is pursuing this year – that of qualitative and quantitative Industry Research on which subject he handed the floor over to facilitator Phil Pratt who explained to members the rationale behind the Industry Research programme. During th
PCM is running its next two-day Columbus McKinnon Lodestar Motor Schools on 27-28 June and 29-30 June respectively. PCM has now trained over 800 owners, specifiers and users of Lodestar Motors via these invaluable hands-on workshops. PCM's Motor Schools, which are still free of charge, offers attendees a comprehensive, hands-on overview of the CM Lodestar motor. There is also a basic motor trouble shooting session. Once again, the event will be broadened by trussing, ground support and metalwork specialists James Thomas Engineering. Further Motor schools will follow throughout the year as part of PCM's on-going commitment to training.
The Production Services Association (PSA) Council announced on June 14th that some significant changes are to be made in the day-to-day running of the Association. Keith Ferguson is now to concentrate fully on the Training and Qualifications initiatives. He will also move forward with his role as a trustee of the Welfare & Benevolent Fund, which recently achieved full charitable status. Consequently, a search for a new general manager is to start shortly, with a view to securing an appointment by the end of the year.
PLASA Exclusive: The company responsible for trucking the Spice Girls' tour kit have landed in hot water following the arrest of two of their number charged with smuggling Ecstasy, worth £3.5million, into Britain. Roxsett's MD David Wilson and general manager John Lewis have both been arrested following a swoop by customs men at Dover who stopped the Roxsett truck when it arrived back in the UK from The Netherlands. Sniffer dogs found the Ecstasy stashed between audio and lighting equipment. Both men appeared at Dover Magistrates Court last week and pleaded not guilty. Bail has been refused and the two now face a Crown Court trial.
Leading names in the world of sound and lighting are supporting the next generation of broadcasters by sponsoring the students of Ravensbourne College of Design and communication, South London, in their Ravensbourne on Air showcase, on Wednesday 14 June. Strand, Pearsons, Yamaha, Avolites and Primarc are just a few of the companies which have thrown their weight behind the event by lending equipment to or directly funding the students at the National Centre of Excellence for Broadcasting to facilitate the programming of the six-hour schedule. The day is an opportunity for representatives from the broadcast industry to see for themselves the direct relevance of Ravensbourne's courses to their particular area of the industry.
An old laundry in South West London is now a 'hard hat' zone as work gets underway on the construction of Sphere Studios - the most ambitious music recording complex to be built in the capital for many years. The new studio is set to rival London's finest and will operate as a fully commercial venture incorporating three main control rooms dedicated to tracklaying, stereo mixing and 5.1 surround mixing. The main partners behind Sphere are musician and producer Francesco Cameli and Malcolm Atkin, formerly general manager of Sir George Martin's Air Lyndhurst facility. During the construction of Air Lyndhurst Atkin was involved in all aspects of its design and later took responsibility for its commercial operation.
Showlight 2001 - the conference for lighting professionals - takes place in Edinburgh in May next year and offers delegates opportunities not to be missed. An afternoon at the Strand factory in Kirkcaldy will give visitors an inside look at one of the lighting industry's leading companies with other visits ranging from the technical to theatre to distilleries - taking in some of the most notable landmarks in and around Edinburgh. These include Edinburgh Castle, famous for the Edinburgh Tattoo, St Andrew's Castle and Cathedral and Glenturret Distillery. Another definite date for the diary is the Showlight Dinner, this year sponsored by Strand Lighting, which takes place at the magnificent Hopetoun House. Inclusive in the registration fee, this is a chance for you to wine and dine alongside some of the biggest names in the lighting industry. We are currently looking for innovative speakers to fill the last couple of available spaces. So, if you would like the opportunity to speak at Showlight 2001, telephone +44 (0) 1323 642 639.
Millennium Multi Media.com, a new internet-oriented digital and traditional entertainment, technology and communications company, is to build the Millennium Entertainment Center, a $20 million, 60,000 square feet, two-level dome housing a revolutionary entertainment venue situated on five and a half acres of Las Vegas' famed strip. The MEC, will accommodate 2,000 customers, and unlike other Vegas venues will have no gaming elements. The main elements of the venue will be a range of conference facilities and a nightclub - the key attraction of which will be a computerised light and laser projection show featuring interior fireworks, falling snow, lightning, twisters, and a host of other computer graphic and holographic effects. World-renowned supper club impresario, Mark Fleischman, former owner of Studio 54 and creator of the well-known Tatou dinner clubs, will head the project.
PLASA Publishing has learnt that John Jeffcoat died of a heart attack on Sunday June 4th. Jeffcoat was one of the industry's more colourful characters and had a long career in this industry. In the seventies he founded Meteor Illusion with Tony Gottelier, and then later established another distribution company - Son et Lumiere - before joining Optikinetics in the mid eighties as director of export sales. He stayed with the company five years before moving out of the industry to run his own hotel business. He later returned to the industry working first with the Multiform Technology Group and then subsequently setting up his own company - Yes - which distributed tiny smoke machines.
The 54th Annual Tony Awards took place at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City yesterday. The success of Contact, which features a prerecorded track with no original music and which picked up a Tony Award for Best New Musical, will no doubt further fuel the debate about what constitutes a musical. Michael Frayn's Copenhagen collected the prize for Best New Play, whilst a revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate collected five Tonys, including Best Musical Revival. Austalian director Michael Blakemore, who now lives in Britain, became the first person to win both Best Director of a Play (Copenhagen) and Best Director of a Musical (Kiss me Kate) in the same year. Elton John and Tim Rice won the Tony for best Score for Aida which also earned Bob Crowley a Tony for best Scenic Design and Natasha Katz the award for Best Lighting Design. The prize for Best Revival went to Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, whilst the award for Best Book of a Musical went to Richard Nelson for James Joyce's The Dead. The Tonys are still remarkably poor at recognising technical excellence – apart from the awards for scenic design and lighting (both of which went to Aida) there is scant recognition of the part played by our industry and particularly notable by its absence is any recognition for the sound designer.
Meanwhile, just up the road in Winchester, the staff of Whitwams Sound & Vision have moved 12m across the High Street to temporary accommodation, while they wait to move the business into its new, customised premises. The company has been based at 70 High Street, Winchester since 1909 - so they are understandably reluctant to move too far in one go.
Brähler ICS, the audience response and electronic voting specialist, has produced a 20-page handbook dealing with all aspects of audience interaction. The booklet, called Setting the Scene, covers the overall 'interactive loop' and a free copy is available to anyone in the business. Telephone +44 1223 461146.
Construction work has started on Amptown Cases' Peterborough warehouse and office premises, which are being extended and refurbished along with the addition of new workshops. The existing facilities will be more than doubled in size, and the work is scheduled for completion by the end of June. An extra telephone line and switchboard has also been installed to cope with the increasing volume of business. The new number is +44
A new consultancy company has been formed to oversee sound system installations in all areas of professional audio. Sound Savers founder Brian Levine is using the services of Stephen Court to look at sound system quotations and proposals. He told PLASA Publishing: "Over the last few years, we have been asked to look at several quotations for new sound systems in every area from clubs and theatres to stadiums, and were frequently surprised by, not only the choice of equipment, but the prices where we discovered cost reductions could be made without sacrificing sound quality. We were asked to vet some of these quotes, and in many cases, saved the clients several thousand pounds on the final costs." Sound Saver's latest project is a stadium in France where the overall sound distribution was increased by 4dB and the budget for sound reduced by 15%. The company is also working on a new club installation in London to reduce problems with sound leakage.