The organisers of Scottish festival, Doune The Rabbit Hole have issued a statement leveling blame for the event’s cancellation on an entertainment union call for a boycott, after the company promoting last year’s edition, Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival Ltd, entered liquidation in late 2022, owing around £1m.
Last year’s collapse was followed by the news that the company that had run the 2018 and 2019 editions, Festival Beverage and Property Services Ltd, headed up by the father of Jamie Murray, who ran the collapsed company, would take over the running of the event.
In a statement, Doune The Rabbit Hole said:
“We are beyond devastated to announce the cancellation of Doune The Rabbit Hole 2023 and the end of the Festival for the foreseeable future as a result of the call for a boycott of the event by BECTU.
“The team has tried everything in our power to recover from the challenges of 2022 and to produce the event our audience deserves, while making good on our promises to pay creditors from the 2022 event. Sadly, since the start of BECTU’s call for a boycott in June, based on a campaign of misinformation, the numbers are just not stacking up and we have no choice other than to cancel the event. We’ve looked at all options to keep the event on the table, as we know how much it means to all the people and families who have bought tickets, but we just aren’t able to produce the event in the current environment. We’ve seen a number of other festivals cancelled across the country so far this year citing the cost of living crisis and increased costs as factors. Those events have not also had the challenges posed by sustained media and social media campaigns spurred on by BECTU, to try and prevent them from going ahead using conjecture, misinformation and rumour presented in bad faith.”
They then go on to publish sales figure illustrations that suggest a dip in sales compared to previous years, after BECTU issued statements suggesting a boycott.
In response, a joint union statement says:
“Bectu, The Musicians’ Union and Equity are of the view that it is unfortunate that the Doune the Rabbit Hole festival due to take place in Stirlingshire on the weekend of 21st – 23rd July 2023 is now cancelled.
“However over the last few years this festival has amassed well over £1 million pounds in unpaid bills to both bands and staff (£800,000 in 2022 alone). Many people including the headline bands last year were paid nothing other than their deposits, in some cases bands are owed tens of thousands of pounds with no hope of getting their final payments, and this years cancellation will impact yet more bands and staff.
“As trade unions we have tried to have a constructive dialogue with the organisers of the festival, but the undertakings which were offered to us were not forthcoming. The organisers said that they would share sales figures in order to reassure us that they would make enough profit this year to begin to repay the debts owed by the previous festival. They stated their intention to repay those debts over 3 years. They have not provided any such information and that undertaking to repay those debts is now in jeopardy.”
The statement goes on to detail agreements such as 100% up front payments, which hadn’t materialised, with a major concern being “that the festival was able to enter liquidation last year and be reborn so quickly with so many of the same faces involved, and that concern has been born out with so many of the same issues this year.”
Doune the Rabbit Hole’s representatives have issued a letter to BECTU, as indicated in their statement:
“We are so sorry to everyone that we’ve not been able to continue to run the event and win the fight in the name of truth and sincerity and just doing the right thing. We are beyond upset that we will not be able to prove the cynics wrong, that their campaign to prevent us from being allowed to make good on our promises and “trade through” the event’s cash-flow crisis has succeeded by sewing the seeds of doubt on our intentions in running the event and promoting any material they could conceive that might discredit us, taking no due diligence as to the truth of their claims in reality. We will be seeking to take action against BECTU, who have prevented Doune the Rabbit Hole 2023 from going ahead through the orchestrated spread of misinformation designed to induce a boycott”
Ticketholders have been advised to seek refunds from their payment provider.