Thursday, December 7

Andalucía Big Festival: the Board allocates European funds for the “internationalization of Andalusian companies” to a Madrid promoter

The Andalucía Big Festival, which plans to bring together Jamiroquai, Muse or Rage Against the Machine the second weekend of September in Malaga, has a contribution of just over 4.2 million euros of public money, the result of a contract of sponsorship signed between the public tourism company of the Junta de Andalucía and Andalucía Big Festival, SL Since it was announced, the Ministry of Tourism announced that 80% would be co-financed with FEDER funds, and this is stated in the contract. That is to say, 3,388,000 euros would be in charge of European funds.

Jamiroquai, Muse and RATM with European funds: the Andalusian Government sponsors a festival in Malaga with 4.3 million

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The General Directorate of European Funds ensures that the project is embedded in priority axis 3 of the Andalusian FEDER operational program 2014-2020, dedicated to “improving the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies” and promoting the “internationalization of Andalusian companies”. In a response sent through the transparency portal, he explains that the objective of this axis is “to support the internationalization of the Andalusian productive fabric, with special emphasis on promoting foreign promotion and marketing measures, business cooperation and the enhancement of of good practices”.

“Promotion at major sporting or cultural events, and through top-level Andalusian sports teams, as well as the promotion of the destination ‘Andalucía’ in the media, is contemplated in the PO FEDER Andalusia 14-20 in Priority Axis 3: ‘Improve the competitiveness of SMEs’, they point out.

However, Andalucía Big Festival, SL is not an Andalusian company and is not part of the “Andalusian productive fabric”, but rather is a recently created company with registered office in Madrid. The company that was the direct recipient of the money was incorporated on August 25, 2021 in the capital of Spain, with the express purpose of covering the will of its partners (initially, Javier Arnaiz and Farruco Castromán, partners in Mad Cool, and Rafael Coto , a businessman linked to Albert Rivera and Ciudadanos, according to revealed in its day El Periódico de España) to celebrate a great music festival in Malaga. And in Madrid she is still based, in Gran Vía street, 27, according to the company information pages. His Madrid address even appears in the contract he signed with Turismo Andaluz.

In their presentation, the promoters emphasized that they would have Andalusian partners in the production of the event. In Malaga, where the great festival is planned, it will be Grupo Mundo, as announced. For the rest of the provincial capitals, for which a summer concert was announced, nothing is known, because dates or locations remain unannounced.

Yes, there is a purely international element in the proposal. In addition to the concerts, Andalucía Big Festival will bring together leading professionals from the music industry to talk to each other about the future of the sector. Promoters, experts in marketing and communication or producers will meet at a three-day event, called Andalucía Music Forum, with Mexico as the “focus country”.

Passed “eligibility” screening

Since the celebration of the festival was announced, it was surprising that most of the cost of public sponsorship was allocated to European funds, as announced by Juan Marín, former Minister of Tourism (Citizens). This medium has not been able to locate other music festivals that are partially financed with the European Regional Development Funds. For this reason, he asked the General Directorate of European Funds, dependent on the Ministry of Finance, which alleged the difficulty of offering this type of information until it was required through the transparency portal.

In the document sent to this medium, the department in charge of allocating the European funds that arrive in Andalusia explains that it discharged the operation on July 13, after analyzing “eligibility”. He then decided to frame it in the axis that contemplates the actions to improve the competitiveness of SMEs and, more specifically, to the line of “promotion of the internationalization of Andalusian companies”. Actions linked to internationalization programs for tourism SMEs can be included here. For example: institutional destination presentations, organization of events or promotional campaigns for Andalusia.

Andalucía Big Festival, SL agreed with the Junta de Andalucía to guarantee the presence of the Andalucía brand (for example, in the name itself) or to spread the image of the region as a tourist destination. It foresees an economic return of 25 million euros and 35 million impacts of the Andalucía brand.

The General Directorate of European Funds details that once the action is executed, the “project financing review mechanism” will be carried out: the General Directorate itself will carry out some preliminary checks, before declaring the expenses to the European Commission, that will finally determine if this great festival is within the performances that can be financed with FEDER funds.

A festival mired in controversy

The Andalucía Big Festival has been involved in several controversies since Juan Marín announced its celebration and the large contribution of public money. “This smells bad”, they told him in the Andalusian Parliament. It is a newly created festival, which lands in a context of strong competition and in a season marked by the pressure of a bubble generated around the high supply and the scarcity of human and material resources to satisfy it. The Reggaeton Beach Festival in Tenerife and Madrid Puro Reggaeton were canceled shortly before they were scheduled to take place, and in other cases there have been significant changes in line-up and location.

In the case of the Andalucía Big Festival, it does not yet have the permits, although it is assumed that it will obtain them after changing the planned location to the Cortijo de Torres esplanade. A very different place that has led many attendees to ask for the return of the tickets. This medium has revealed that the promoters did not present any document to the competent body to authorize the use of the space where they had been announcing it, on Sacaba beach.

The festival, which aspires to place Malaga on the European circuit of major festivals, reaches a highly saturated market with a substantial competitive advantage: 3.5 million euros plus 735,000 euros of VAT from public money. In 2022, Turismo Andaluz sponsors four music festivals: 350,000 euros to Cabaret Music Festival, 98,000 to Mare Nostrum in Fuengirola, 150,000 to Starlite and 3.5 million euros to Andalucía Big Fest, which receives 85% of the total for this item. In 2021, 165,289.25 went to the Cabaret and 124,000 to the Starlite. All of them without counting VAT.

The granting of a sponsorship never seen before in the sector to a company with no links or track record in Andalusia was one of the criticisms leveled by some promoters of Andalusian festivals in a open letter to Juan Marin published at the end of April. These promoters disgraced the former Minister of Tourism by ignoring festivals that could demonstrate a long history, despite being “supported by derisory subsidies” or not having subsidies. “Many of them, if not almost all of them, have not received even a few words of thanks from their Ministry in all these years of existence.”