Monday, March 10, 2008

Glastonbury sums

Almost by accident, this weekend's Guardian Money supplement revealed some of the finances underpinning the Glastonbury Festival:

Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis has a £1.3m overdraft and gives almost all his profits to charity. Yet the 72-year-old Methodist dairy farmer is no naive hippy.

He hosts a £25m event attracting 177,000 revellers who pay £145 for three days in a muddy field with portable loos. [...]

Last year's festival turnover of £25m was almost all swallowed up in costs. He eventually made a £2m profit, split tax-free between charities Greenpeace, WaterAid, Oxfam and local community projects. "There is no use making money unless you are going to spend it well - being able to give to good causes that help the world, not just one person, is reward for all the work."

Eavis originally bought out Worthy Farm when his Dad died, with a £12,000 - none of the debt has yet been repaid and has grown a thousandfold over the years:
"The bank manager is always telling me to pay off the debt but the money has never worried me. I have the assets of a farm and great festival thanks to all that borrowing."

We're not financial experts, but we do wonder if this all puts something of a cloud over the long-term future of the festival. Eavis, sadly, isn't immortal and if the farm is floating on a huge loan with one lender that's surely going to cause a problem when he goes to the great Pyramid Stage in the sky.

However, you've got to enjoy the idea that he's making a two million donation to charities every year while owing a similar sum to NatWest. It turns out there is Another Way after all.

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