Rob da Bank to be honoured at UK Festival Awards


DJ recognised for his success in curating Bestival and Camp Bestival

Rob da Bank, who founded music festival Bestival just a decade ago, is to be honoured with the outstanding contribution award at this year’s annual UK Festival Awards.

Bank, who began as a Radio 1 DJ, will be recognised at the ceremony on Monday for his success in curating Bestival – which attracts about 80,000 people – and the smaller Camp Bestival in Dorset, which he set up in 2008.

In 2010, Bestival set the record for the biggest fancy dress event when 55,000 festival-goers donned fantasy-themed costumes. This year, it broke the record for creating the world’s largest disco ball, rising to a challenge set by Chic’s Nile Rodgers.

Bank said: “I sort of feel like they’ve chosen the wrong person. I really think the UK festival market is the best in the world. Great Britain leads the field in festivals, so to be associated with those guys is amazing. I’m proud that Bestival and Camp Bestival and everything else we do is part of that.”

Despite the increasing success of Bestival as an independently run festival, Bank acknowledged that competing against the larger, commercially run festivals had its challenges and said the survival of the smaller boutique festival was crucial.

“At the Association of Independent Festivals we have a lot of issues, not necessarily just with Live Nation or the big boys,” said Bank. “It’s more just a fight for our festivals to survive and competition is as much a problem as anything really. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Live Nation festival or an independent festival, they’re all up against each other. A lot of people find it frustrating and hard work but I think its just real life … We’re not getting crushed, we’re just having a bit of a battle.”

He addressed complaints that the same musicians take up the headline slots across the festival circuit each year. It has already been announced that Metallica, who headlined Glastonbury last year, will take the main slots at this year’s Reading and Leeds festivals.

“I think its one of the questions that always comes up and we debate it every single year,” Banks said. “It is tricky because there are only so many headliners that could headline Reading … at that top end they need to get bums on seats so I can see why you get the same headliners.”

Bestival’s headliners in the past have included Elton John, Snoop Dogg and New Order but Bank said he had made a conscious effort to put newer musicians such as Florence and the Machine and Foals at the head of the bill in recent years.

“I put Foals on Saturday night at Bestival this year, because I wanted to put a younger headliner on and it went well,” he said. “People were like ‘are you sure they’re big enough to headline Bestival?’ But they smashed it and everyone loved it.

“You know, the proof is in the pudding; if people don’t turn up to the festival that will be the point at which we can’t keep repeating the headliners.”

Bank said he had plans in the works to expand his festival operation further. “We are working on some more festivals next year and that’s still the plan,” he said. “They’re very much about to get signed off. So yeah, watch this space. Its exciting.”

This year’s UK Festival Awards also sees Bestival nominated for best major festival and best dance event, up against events such as Glastonbury, T in the Park and Wireless. The awards will take place on 1 December at London’s Roundhouse.

Bank was also honoured this year with the outstanding contribution award at the Association of Independent Festivals’ event in October.


The Guardian | 28th November 2014

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