The quart festival 2008 is cancelled, and the organisation is bankrupt and closed down. With that, 16 years of festival history and famously good times in Norway’s southern city of Kristiansand are over.
As late as a couple of weeks ago the organisers ensured that Quart was coming back in a big way this year, after last year’s poor attendance and torrential rains. And the promise seemed real enough with a Quart rooster sporting some truly big names and special appearances, like a much awaited Röyksopp concert. With a bit of luck it looked as if Quart was up to the contest with flashy newcomer Hove a bit further up the coast. But then suddenly, it was all over, as Quart announced this week that the festival has filed for bankruptcy
Quart had sold only about 2000 regular tickets and the writing was on the wall. People simply didn’t want Quart, or didn’t believe in it after last year’s dismal experience. And so the festival that more than any other had come to embody the special Norwegian brand of summer hedonism, with music, sun and sea in perfect harmony, is a closed chapter.
Quart has had a reputation for supplying people with the perfect holiday experience, and artists with eerie surreal summer nights where music, sun-tanned crowds, skinny dips in the salt sea, fishing boats and dry Martinis came together in some weird merger between Ibiza and Reykjavik.
Many Norwegians mourn the loss of Quart. Not so much perhaps because they thought so grandly of the festival in its most recent editions, but because of the fantastic memories it has supplied people with for fifteen years. Quart was the coolest festival, and it was what made the Norwegian southern coast a happening place that you wouldn’t trade for anywhere else in the world.
Journalists and critics who have been following the development of the Norwegian festival scene, claim that Quart’s troubles can be traced back to the turmoil in 2004 when the festival’s long standing chief persona Toffen Gunnufsen left the organisation to establish a new festival, viz. Hove. After his departure the economic troubles have been mounting and it seemed that some of the magic of Quart actually left with him.
It could also be of course, that people were tired of the concept, and that Quart needed a more fundamental makeover than anyone was ready to accept.
Whatever the reasons, it is clear that strong forces in the city of Kristiansand are hoping to establish a new festival already next year. The argument is that the city is a unique summer destination and a perfect city for hosting a big music festival. And so talks are already underway with the aim of establishing a new concept as soon as possible. The know-how and experiences of the Quart organisation will surely come into play again, but seemingly all agree that the name Quart must be abandoned so that the festival that came to define the nineties in Norway’s musical sensuousness is left to linger as a cherished memory.
It is unclear what kind of arrangement Quart will reach with the artists booked for this year’s event. As the festival is in fact bankrupt it is unlikely that compensation will be paid, and that goes for the few who’ve already bought tickets too. It is however possible that Hove will expand its program to make room for some names that were due to appear at Quart.