Festival promoters All Tomorrow’s Parties has announced that after a series of cancelations and missteps it is closing up shop. The entirely unexpected news follows months of bad publicity, protracted venues changes, last minute cancelations and payment disputes with venues and artists, including Wednesday’s reports that several acts had pulled out of a upcoming ATP Iceland festival due to contractual issues.
“After months of speculation, our funding for Iceland has been pulled and we are no longer able to continue so will be closing down the entire live side of ATP festivals and live promotions with immediate effect and going into administration,” the statement read.
Organizers also noted that while ATP Iceland is canceled, its other planned UK shows, including London gigs from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and film director/composer John Carpenter, will go ahead with new promoters appointed.
“We are very sorry we could not make this work and have tried to survive throughout all our recent losses but we are no longer able to trade and have to accept we cannot go on. Thank you to all our loyal customers who have supported us and incredible artists who have performed or curated for us over the years and made ATP so special while it lasted,” the statement concluded, adding that details of the administrators and how to apply for ticket refunds will be confirmed in the next week.
Although confirmation of ATP’s closure is not a huge surprise given recent events, it still marks a sad end for a once successful and pioneering music promotion company that helped popularize the spread of music events being staged in British holiday camps (initially Pontins Holiday Camp in Camber Sands) and artists playing their classic albums in full.
Founded in 1999 by Barry Hogan, from the start the London-based company prided itself on being “intimate, non-corporate and fan-friendly” with its event line-ups chosen by specially invited, typically alternative, cult and influential artists.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, Animal Collective, Pavement, The Flaming Lips, The Breeders, My Bloody Valentine, Portishead, Mudhoney, The Mars Volta, Vincent Gallo, Mogwai, Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse and Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening are among the many acts who’ve played or curated ATP events over the past 17 years.
The company’s live arm has also curated stages at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival and Pitchfork Magazine’s Music Festival in Chicago, while 2008 saw it launch its first standalone ATP in Monticello, New York. The U.S. edition ran for another two years with 2009 seeing the launch of an Australian edition, curated by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
The growing international and domestic roster of ATP events was not able to disguise the company’s increasingly parlous finances, however. In 2012, ATP Concerts Limited was placed in voluntary liquidation — similar to chapter 10 bankruptcy in the States — transferring all its assets, including the rights to the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, label, and shows, to a new company called Willwal Limited. That year also saw organizers fall into dispute with the Butlins holiday camp chain, bringing an end to a six-year partnership.
Two years later, ATP’s London-based Jabberwocky festival — featuring Neutral Milk Hotel, James Blake, Caribou and Kurt Vile — was axed three days before it was scheduled to begin. At the time, organizers blamed the cancelation on a “succession of events that have lost money in an increasingly aggressive festival market.”
This summer saw the return of the same problems with the second of two ATP weekends (curated by Drive Like Jehu) planned to take place in Prestatyn, North Wales canceled just a few days before it was due to start. The subsequent damage to ATP’s already shaky reputation among music fans, booking agents, managers and artists ensured that – after nearly two decades – the party was finally over.