Melvin Benn to be honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

European Festival Awards to give lifetime award to Melvin Benn

Melvin Benn to be honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

Photographer: Peter CorkhillVirtual Festivals on 11 December 2014

Melvin Benn is now the second person from the UK to be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Festival Awards, the other being Michael Eavis.

Melvin Benn is currently Managing Director of Festival Republic, a company operating a number of events across Europe that attract more than half a million people each year. Their current roster includes Reading and Leeds Festivals, Latitude Festival, Ireland’s Electric Picnic, Norway’s Hove Festival and the newly announced Lollapalooza Berlin.

Benn is also Chairman of the Board of Directors at Wembley Stadium, a representative for the Concert Promoters Association (CPA) and Board Member with Julie’s Bicycle, a non-profit organisation make environmental sustainability intrinsic to the business, art, and ethics of the creative industries.

Benn first got involved with the industry through Mean Fiddler, a company founded in 1982. It took shared ownership of the Reading Festival in 1989 before taking sole ownership in 1993. In 1999 the company created a parallel event in Leeds and from 2002 to 2012 they, controversially, took over operational management of Glastonbury Festival, helping secure the renewal of the festival license and an increase in capacity to 177,500.

Born in 1955, Melvin Benn grew up in Hull. He left school with very few qualifications at 15 to become an apprentice electrician. It was his first festival in experience in 1972  that sparked a lifelong love-affair with outdoor events.

You have to remember that people just didn’t go to festivals in those days, not from Hull.” Benn told the Yorkshire Evening Post last year. “We hitchhiked from Leeds down to Reading and there was only one person on my council estate that had a telephone and I rang that house and told her to tell my mum that I’d gone to Reading.

We didn’t even think about what we were doing. We just made up our minds on the day and said ‘let’s go’. We didn’t take any spare clothes, anything at all.?“I remember so much about it – so little about the bands – but so much about the rest of it, the actual experience of being there – and I was recently reminded of some of the stuff I’d forgotten – I’m still very close to my friends that I grew up with in Hull and just the other day we were chatting about that year. My friend reminded me we went to our first festival without a tent. We didn’t know you needed one.

We slept under the mainstage.

I wouldn’t recommend that these days.

Melvin Benn will collect the award at the European Festival Awards at Groningen, the Netherlands on 14 January 2015.

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