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Local News in Ibiza

Local News
by Louise Wright

MTV Europe 1999-2001

Ibiza Local News

On Tuesday 25th September the Diario de Ibiza, the oldest local newspaper on the island, had front-page banner headlines stating that MTV Europe would not be holding any more events on the island. On many occasions during the summer months I reported on this years MTV summer festival and the controversy that surrounded it.

MTV arrived on the island in 1999 to hold an open-air dance music festival at Sa Pedrera, also known as "The Quarry", just outside San Antonio. The open-air event was a huge success and, although they had problems with security and site cleaning, they were able to sort these problems out with the local council during the wintertime and were granted permission to hold a similar event at the same venue the following year.

The MTV Ibiza 2000 festival was extended to two days, the first day focusing on dance music and, the second day, on pop music, and even though the second day was not as well attended as the first day, MTV Europe were still eager to continue holding festivals on the island.

In January this year, the Lord Mayor of San Antonio, Antonio Marí Tur and Richard Godfrey, Vice-president MTV Networks Europe met to discuss this year's event. During the meeting, the Lord Mayor expressed his concern about complaints from residents close to "The Quarry" and suggested that the Hippodrome at San Rafael would possibly be a better choice of venue. After Richard Godfrey had visited the Hippodrome, he agreed with the Lord Mayor and plans were put into action to stage MTV Ibiza 2001 at this new location. On his return to England, Richard Godfrey and his team started their preparation for their third Ibiza festival, booking live acts, Disc-Jockey's, set designers, TV crews, sound and lighting contractors, stage constructors and the enormous amount of transportation and back-up needed to stage a huge open-air event.

He also arranged with major sponsors Pringles and Durex and, together they put into operation a huge worldwide advertising campaign, all indicating that San Rafael Hippodrome was their new venue in Ibiza.

Millions of pounds were spent promoting the MTV Ibiza 2001 festival, which was going to be part of MTV's 20th birthday celebrations.

Everything was going according to plan when, three weeks before the event, the Lord Mayor of San Antonio Council refused to grant them a licence.

This time, the Lord Mayor of San Antonio blamed the local San Rafael residents for objecting to the event.

MTV had numerous meetings with officials from the San Antonio Town Hall and the Consell Insular (Island Council) and even offered six million pesetas as a donation to the San Rafael church in an attempt to appease the residents of San Rafael but nothing they could say or do would change Antoni Marí Tur's mind.

Time was running out for MTV and in a desperate last minute decision they turned to "Privilege", the largest discotheque on the island and after a lot of juggling around with their regular nights, Privilege agreed to stage the night. Although the four thousand people that attended fell far short of the 20,000 that were expected to attend the open-air event, the evening was nevertheless a success.

Rumour was rife that a company the size of MTV would not return to Ibiza if they were going to be messed around with and, although I interviewed Richard Godfrey on the night of the festival (Wednesday 29th August), he would not comment on the issue but promised me that when he returned to England he would grant all the Ibicencan press an official interview.

Now that MTV have had time to think about their plans for the future they are ready to share their decisions with the Ibicencan people.

The first question asked was the question on everyone's mind, would they be returning to the island? "After everything that we have had to suffer this summer in Ibiza, I think that we would like to go somewhere else".

"Even though we are not ruling out Ibiza completely, we are looking at three other places who would be delighted to have us (Mallorca, Ayia Napa and Portugal?) and they would be pleased to offer us all the facilities and co-operation that was lacking in Ibiza".

When asked about Antoni Marí Tur's decision not to grant them a licence, Richard Godfrey responded: "The Lord Mayor and the Consell Insular both told us that everything would be 'OK'... then, three weeks before the event, they decided to refuse us the licence. San Antonio Council did not have the decency to inform us about the complaints from the residents of San Rafael" (if there were any?).

Richard Godfrey added that "MTV still does not know for sure what happened in San Antonio Council but the 2001 festival turned into a political football that was passed from one political institution to the next".

MTV Networks Europe have still not worked out exactly how much money they and their sponsors have lost but the enforced last minute change of plans obviously came in at a very high price, too high a price to risk the same thing happening next year.

In response, Antoni Mari Tur said: "The right decision was made, it is all in the past now for me and I want to make it clear that I have absolutely nothing against MTV Networks Europe".

The councillor for Tourism, Josep Marí Ribas, also expressed his opinion: "I think it is a shame that MTV has decided not to return to Ibiza because this company always promoted the island in a positive way which was highly beneficial to the tourist industry but I have to respect the decision made by the Town Hall of San Antonio".

One person who does not respect the decision of Antoni Marí Tur and San Antonio Council is Jorge Alonso, the director responsible for the island tourist board. "I am not surprised MTV are not coming back to Ibiza. They were so positive for the island. For example, images from the last festival were broadcast to 342 million people around the world and this summer we have seen a clear increase in North American tourism to the island", said Alonso who gives his full support to MTV.

It is a shame that the Consell Insular could not have offered MTV an indoor venue capable of catering for a larger number of people than Privilege discotheque.

The Recinto Ferial (Ibiza's Conference and Exhibition Centre) might have been a possible venue for MTV in the future, especially now that the government owned building is going to be extended.

A new 'Centre de les Arts' (Arts Centre) is part of a plan to extend the exhibition and conference centre. The construction of the new building, announced this week, will occupy 15,000 square metres of land, cost 2,700 million pesetas and take two years to complete but the finished results should definitely be worth the time and the money.

The architect Luis Gascon explained the details of the new project to local politicians and the Ibiza Cultural Department this week.

The building will contain an auditorium with a capacity of 1,100 people, a library for 500 people, more exhibition halls, a restaurant and many smaller anterooms in the three-storey building.

Parking for 650 cars will also be provided next door to the new arts centre.

Ibiza is concentrating on the cultural side of the island this year and has planned many exhibitions, theatrical events and musical festivals.

One of these festivals is being held this weekend (27th, 28th and 29th September). 'Un món de músiques' (A world of music) is taking place in different locations around the island and, being promoted by the Consell Insular, offering Ibiza residents a taste of different music styles from around the world.

On Thursday 27th, a group of musicians from Scotland called 'Shooglenifty' opened the music festival at Sa Punta d'es Molí around the bay of San Antonio with an inspired performance of traditional Scottish music adding a unique personal touch.

The festival will continue until Saturday 29th with live performances by Leyond and Nayim Alal, two women from the Sahara Desert who want to teach their culture through dancing, poetry and percussion, the Orchestre National from Barbés (France) who will present traditional rhythms of Africa, amongst others.

Unfortunately MTV style dance music will not be included.

Louise Wright