A view of 2015's Forecastle Festival | Photo by Alex Holt
A view of 2015’s Forecastle Festival | Photo by Alex Holt

Global entertainment company Live Nation has purchased AC Entertainment, the promotion arm behind Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, according to The Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Live Nation is the largest concert promoter and live entertainment organizer worldwide, and according to the company’s website, there’s a Live Nation event every 20 minutes.

Insider has reached out to Forecastle founder J.K. McKnight for comment and to ask whether he’s aware of any changes this might bring to the annual music festival; an out-of-office email reply indicated he currently is traveling.

Last year, The New York Times reported that Live Nation took a controlling stake in Tennessee-based AC Entertainment’s popular Bonnaroo music fest, which is held every summer in Manchester, Tenn. Writer Ben Sisario pointed out the obvious in his opening paragraph: “For the music world, outdoor festivals are a big business that is only getting bigger. And the world’s largest concert conglomerate is getting a bigger piece of it.”

A screen shot of Live Nation's venues in the United States
A screen shot of Live Nation’s venues in the United States

AC Entertainment, founded 25 years ago by Ashley Capps, became the promoter of Forecastle in 2011. The company also runs the Big Ears Festival and Sloss Music & Arts Festival, among others, and owns 14 venues throughout the South. Capps will continue to lead the company.

Live Nation is comprised of Live Nation Concerts, Live Nation Media & Sponsorship, Ticketmaster, and Artist Nation and has venues in 37 countries, including, locally, the Louisville Palace and Mercury Ballroom.

As for Forecastle: The festival started off small in 2002, when it was held in Tyler Park in the Highlands. The success of the fest prompted a series of upgrades to larger venues, from Cherokee Park, to the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center, to the Belvedere, before ultimately landing at Waterfront Park, where it’s taken place since 2010. In 2016, the festival attracted a crowd of more than 65,000.

When AC Entertainment came on board as Forecastle’s promoter in 2011, festival founder J.K. McKnight remained an integral part of planning and executing the event — aka, “The Captain.”

Although Forecastle media relations manager Holly Weyler McKnight declined to comment on the Live Nation deal, she forwarded the following statement provided by AC Entertainment:

“The partnership with Live Nation was designed to give AC Entertainment added leverage and knowledge in an increasingly competitive promoter and festival landscape. This partnership will ensure the long-term success of our world-class festival experiences and events, and Forecastle will continue to be the accessible, high-quality and high-value festival experience that fans have come to expect. The AC Entertainment team continues to be the creative, driving force behind both day-to-day operations and long-term vision of the company. No changes in company operation or direction are anticipated.”

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."