Malta tech event canceled due to organizers bankruptcy concerns
Drumcode Festival Malta, a highly anticipated techno event due to take place in Malta next September, has been canceled after “an accumulation of problems” with Pollen – the UK company responsible for organizing the event – Drumcode announced in a release on Tuesday.
Pollen, which throughout the summer has been surrounded by bad press and allegations about its inability to reimburse customers, is a travel and events start-up specializing in organizing festivals and other large-scale events around the world.
It is also a partner in Malta’s 356 Entertainment Group – a local events company which has raised eyebrows due to the preferential treatment given to its owners when it comes to government sponsorships. 356 Entertainment Group was not one of the organizers of the Drumcode event.
In an announcement on Tuesday, famed Swedish techno label Drumcode said the event had been canceled because it had lost faith in Pollen, pointing to insufficient standards. “We no longer have confidence in their ability to deliver the rigorously high standards of security and customer experience that we demand from an event presented on our behalf,” he said.
“Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that Pollen’s arrangements for guest and venue security, appropriate staffing and financial management fall short of the demands of the high quality events we pride ourselves on. ‘arrange.”
Hours later, a Sky News report raised concerns over the London-based company’s bankruptcy. The portal reported that the ‘British taxpayer backed’ company, which has held events with the likes of Justin Bieber and Duran Duran, hasn’t paid its staff since it started ‘heading for disaster’ and is now “on the brink of collapse”. According to the report, after weeks of trying to secure a bailout deal, the company could very soon enter administration. The relevance of this has increased in the UK in because Pollen was funded by the UK taxpayer-backed Future Fund, which was launched during the pandemic.
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Pollen’s parent company, Streetteam Software Ltd, was restructuring after attempts to find a buyer collapsed following its inability to pay suppliers and employees. Such revelations are not new. In June, a damning investigation by news portal Sifted reported that despite raising $150 million in funding as recently as April, the company owed “thousands” to its clients. A few weeks later, a senior Pollen executive, Zeon Richards, resigned from the company, saying practices within the company were not “in line with (his) ethics.”
Questions asked about ticket refunds
Such allegations raise questions as to whether the disappointed revelers, who bought tickets to the Drumcode Festival in Malta, for which more than 6,500 people showed interest on Facebook, and are now urged to contact Pollen for their money , will be refunded. Tickets were selling for around €129 for party passes and starting at €299 for packages including accommodation, according to the Pollen website. Some concern has already been expressed on social media by ticket buyers who are aware of the company’s situation and are hoping for a refund.
On its website, the company promises that “100% refunds” will be granted if “the experience is canceled by Pollen”, or if “the experience is postponed to a later date when you do not wish to assist”. There is no mention of what would happen if the event was canceled by the collaborator.
Besides Drumcode, Pollen had also arranged for 50 Cent to perform at a separate four-day festival in Malta in September, named Green Light Gang Experience. Details about the event are no longer present on the company’s website and announcements about the event have been removed from festival-related websites, including Cafe del Mar.
The Shift sent questions to Pollen asking to confirm if refunds will be issued for both events.
Pollen Connections in Malta
Drumcode Festival is just one of many events organized by Pollen that have popped up in Malta in recent months.
In May, in conjunction with controversial events company 356 Entertainment, the company held a headlining rock festival Bring Me The Horizon in May, which included a lineup of rock bands such as Bullet for my Valentine and Beartooth.
Just a month later, the two companies held a mini festival called Days Like This, billed as “a high-end musical experience” featuring international artists such as Wizkid and Kaytranada, which included parties and events in places such as Café del Mar, Numero Uno and Gianpula Village. Pollen is listed as one of 356 Entertainment’s partners on their website.
356 Entertainment, linked to events in Malta such as Summer Daze, Lost and Found and ABODE on the Rock, is one of the events companies favored by Malta Tourism Authority Events Manager, Lionel Gerada, which was originally named by the disgraced former Minister of Tourism, Konrad Mizzi. despite a criminal record.
Gerada, who was and remains in charge of the Authority’s decision-making on sponsorship granted to support event organizers in the country, had favored certain event organizers with whom he was closely associated by paying tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
356 Entertainment Group reportedly received at least $2 million in sponsorship money in the summer of 2018 alone, an amount that prompted industry sources to call out unfair rules of the game. Several sources had also reported concern about MTA’s sponsorship deals that automatically impose data sharing obligations with the Authority, due to the preferred ticketing system also owned by 356 Entertainment shareholders.
356 Entertainment is owned by Gerald Debono, Trevor Camilleri, Nicholas Spiteri and Edward Zammit Tabona.