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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 09:38 GMT
Glastonbury fights for identity
Many fans say Glastonbury has a
Many fans say Glastonbury has a "special" atmosphere
Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis is fighting to make sure his event's celebrated identity does not disappear after fears that the festival could be swallowed up by a commercial music empire.

Glastonbury's famed laid-back atmosphere has earned it a special place in music legend, but live music empire Mean Fiddler has recently taken a 20% stake in the festival.


The artistic control remains with me

Michael Eavis
Glastonbury organiser
He is meeting Mean Fiddler managing director Melvin Benn on Tuesday to seek assurances that the company will not try to take control of the line-up or make changes to the event's easy-going ambience.

Mr Eavis was worried by a newspaper article on Monday headlined: "Glastonbury's hippy dream is sold to rock tycoon."

"I'm meeting Melvin Benn this afternoon to see if we can [make sure] Glastonbury loses none of its character and it doesn't have the Mean Fiddler stamped all over it," Mr Eavis told BBC News Online.

"The artistic control remains with me and my people," he said, adding that he hoped festival-goers would not notice any change in the event after the Mean Fiddler deal.

He had enlisted Mr Benn, who is to be Glastonbury's operations director, to control security but said he called the meeting because they "weren't quite clear about what the arrangements were".

The festival's future has been in the balance because of safety concerns, and security must be watertight this year if the event is to survive.

Reading Festival
Mean Fiddler events like Reading are seen as being more controlled
"The fence will have to work, the security will have to work and things will have to be very robust."

Mean Fiddler also runs festivals including Reading, Leeds and Homelands as well as a string of live music venues in London.

Its events are seen as more commercial and controlled, with The Times reporting that the company's stake in Glastonbury would rise to 40% after three years.

The paper also reported that the festival was looking for a sponsor for the first time this year, although Mr Benn has said that Mean Fiddler would safeguard contributions to charities like Greenpeace.

When the deal was announced last week, Mr Benn said he and business partner Vince Power had "always loved and respected" what Mr Eavis created at Glastonbury.

"Mean Fiddler Music Group is very pleased to play a role in assuring its future."

Glastonbury
This year's Glastonbury is expected to attract 140,000 people
He also praised its "worldwide reputation and... great history".

Last year, Mean Fiddler said it was planning to expand its entertainment empire with more festivals.

Mr Eavis has run the event on his Somerset dairy farm for 30 years, with this year's event expected to attract 140,000 people.

It will take place on 28-30 June, with Blur, Radiohead and Stereophonics among the bands rumoured to be appearing.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Glastonbury
Has the spirit of the festival changed forever?
 VOTE RESULTS
Should Mean Fiddler be involved in Glastonbury?

Yes
 22.10% 

No
 77.90% 

1733 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

19 Feb 02 | Music
Fiddler calls the tune
25 Jan 02 | Music
Green light for Glastonbury
20 Aug 01 | Business
Mean Fiddler eyes global expansion
04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
The Glastonbury legend
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