Techno event cancelled in Malta amid organiser bankruptcy concerns

Under-fire UK event company Pollen is a partner of 356 Entertainment Group, the local entertainment companies swimming in government sponsorships.

 

Drumcode Festival Malta, a much-awaited techno event that was set to take place in Malta this coming September, has been cancelled after “an accumulation of problems” with Pollen – the UK company responsible for organizing the event – Drumcode announced in a statement on Tuesday.

Pollen, which throughout the summer has been shrouded in bad press and allegations regarding its failure to refund its customers,  is a travel and events start-up that specialises in organizing large-scale festivals and other events around the world.

It is also a partner of Malta’s 356 Entertainment Group – a local event company that has raised eyebrows because of the preferential treatment shown towards its owners when it comes to government sponsorships. 356 Entertainment Group was not one of the organisers of the Drumcode event.

In an announcement posted on Tuesday, the famous Swedish techno label Drumcode said that the event has been cancelled as it lost confidence in Pollen, pointing toward insufficient standards. “We no longer have confidence in their ability to deliver the rigorously high standards of safety and customer experience we demand of an event presented in our name,” it said.

“Over recent weeks it has become clear that Pollen’s arrangements for customer and venue safety, suitable staffing and financial management do not meet the requirements of the high-quality events we take pride in delivering.”

The announcement by Drumcode on its website.

Merely hours later, a Sky News report raised concerns regarding the London-based company going bankrupt. The portal reported that the “UK taxpayer-backed” company, which has organized events with the likes of Justin Bieber and Duran Duran, hasn’t paid its staff since it started to “lurch towards disaster” and is now “on the brink of collapse”. According to the report, after weeks of attempting to secure a rescue deal, the company could very soon crash into administration. The relevance of this increased in the UK because of the fact that Pollen has been funded by the UK taxpayer-backed Future Fund, which was launched during the pandemic.

Bloomberg  reported on Wednesday that Pollen’s parent company Streetteam Software Ltd is restructuring after attempts to find a buyer collapsed in the wake of its failure to pay vendors and employees. Such revelations are not new. In June, a damning investigation by news portal Sifted, reported that despite raising $150 million as recently as April, the company owes “thousands” to customers. A few weeks later, a top executive at Pollen, Zeon Richards, resigned from the company, saying that practices within the company did not “align with (his) ethics”.

Questions raised about ticket refunds

Such allegations raise questions as to whether the disappointed party-goers, who purchased tickets for the Drumcode Festival in Malta, for which over 6,500 people expressed interest on Facebook, and are now being advised to contact Pollen for their money, will be refunded. Tickets were selling at some €129 for party passes and from €299 upwards for packages including accommodation, according to Pollen’s website. Some concern has already been expressed on social media by ticket-buyers who are aware of the company’s situation and hoping to get a refund.

On its website, the company pledges that “100% refunds” will be given if “the experience is cancelled by Pollen”, or if “the experience is rescheduled to a later date which you don’t wish to attend”. There is no mention as to what would happen in a case where the event is cancelled by the collaborator.

Besides Drumcode, Pollen had also organised for 50 Cent to perform at separate four-day festival in Malta in September named Green Light Gang experience. Details regarding the event are no longer present on the company’s website, and announcements about the event have been removed from websites linked with the festival, including Cafe del Mar.

The Shift has sent questions to Pollen asking to confirm whether refunds will be given for both events.

Pollen’s Malta connections

Drumcode Festival is just one of a number of events organized by Pollen that have popped up in Malta in recent months.

In May, in collaboration with controversial events company 356 Entertainment, the company organized a rock festival headlining Bring Me The Horizon in May, which included a line-up of rock bands such as Bullet for my Valentine and Beartooth.

Just one month later, the two companies organized a mini festival named Days Like This, advertised as “a premium music experience” headlining international artists such as Wizkid and Kaytranada, which included parties and events at venues such as Café del Mar, Numero Uno and Gianpula Village. Pollen is listed as one of 356 Entertainment’s partners on its website.

356 Entertainment’s partners, including Pollen, as displayed on its website

356 Entertainment, connected to events in Malta such as Summer Daze, Lost and Found and ABODE on the Rock, is one of the event companies favoured by Malta Tourism Authority’s head of events Lionel Gerada, who was originally appointed by disgraced former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi despite having a criminal record.

Gerada, who was and remains in charge of the Authority’s decision-making related to sponsorship dished out to support events organisers in the country, had favoured certain event organisers towards which he had close association by handing tens of thousands of euros of taxpayer money.

356 Entertainment Group had reportedly received at least €2 million in sponsorship money in the summer of 2018 alone, an amount which had pushed industry sources to call out an unfair playing field. Multiple sources had also flagged their concern about MTA sponsorship agreements that automatically impose data-sharing obligations with the Authority, as a result of the preferred ticketing system also owned by the 356 Entertainment shareholders.

356 Entertainment is owned by Gerald Debono, Trevor Camilleri, Nicholas Spiteri and Edward Zammit Tabona.

 

                           
                               
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Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

Corruption doesn’t pay. Now who will reimburse those who have paid? MTA who has passed on over 2million euros to the Maltese Company over the years!!!!
Total mis-management from top to bottom.

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