Owen Sound, ON's Mudtown Music & Arts Festival was supposed to take place in less than a month, on August 8 and 9, but the event has now sadly been cancelled.
In a blog post bluntly titled "We Killed Mudtown," festival bosses Joshua Richardson and Kai Hulshof explained that they haven't sold enough tickets to justify the financial risk or long hours.
They wrote, "We're cancelling the 2014 Mudtown Music & Arts Festival. There's no easy way to put it. So, there it is."
Performers were due to include Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Odonis Odonis, Bry Webb, Michael Feuerstack and others.
In the lengthy post, the pair discussed the many logistical difficulties involved in running a festival. They also thanked the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, volunteers, fans and more.
This year's Mudtown Music & Arts Festival would have been the second instalment. The folks at Mudtown Records have also produced a number of prior festivals: OTHERfolk (which ran from 2010 to 2012) and Lupercalia (from 2011 to 2013).
They admitted, "We have no aptitude for the music business." That being said, they aren't exiting the business entirely, since Mudtown Records will continue, as will the Mudtown Music & Arts Series events.
Ticket holders can get refunds or use their ticket for entry to a Mudtown Music & Arts Series event in the upcoming fall/winter season.
Read the full statement below.
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -Hunter S. Thompson
We're cancelling the 2014 Mudtown Music & Arts Festival. There's no easy way to put it. So, there it is. There weren't enough tickets sold — certainly not enough to justify the long hours our team put in, nor the financial risk. It hurts to do it, but we think it's the right decision.
In 2010 I wrote a letter. It was published in the Owen Sound Sun Times. It criticized the local Summerfolk Arts & Crafts Festival for what I believed to be its narrow construal of the term "folk" and how I thought it was reflected in the festival's artistic programming. A series of replies and counter-replies ensued within the newspaper. At one point in the conversation, I was challenged to 'put my money where my mouth is,' as it were, and start my own festival. And so, the OTHERfolk Festival was born. OTHERfolk succeeded in connecting different people, artists, and businesses throughout downtown Owen Sound. The festival grew. Our team grew. We expanded the number of artists and venues, and started to bring in bigger names — and took bigger risks. Last year it became the Mudtown Music & Arts Festival, expanding to two nights, and was credited by Now Magazine with helping "put Owen Sound on the musical map." And now, it's dead.
There are numerous challenges to building your own festival. There is the financing: finding sponsors, donors, advertisers, etcetera. There are the logistics: scheduling, lodging for artists, catering, so on, and so forth. There is the programming: what artists should play and where. There are the volunteers, sourcing of equipment, hiring sound professionals, bylaws, fire codes — the list goes on.
There are also a number of requirements one must satisfy in order to build an independent festival. Firstly, you need love. And, lots of it. The love of what you are doing, the love of your family, your partner, your friends — without it, you can't build a thing. We have an excess of love — an overabundance. And with it, we built a little festival together. It was hard, unpaid work — not one penny went into the pockets any person involved in its organization. Secondly, you need gumption. You need just the right amount of gumption that lets you say: "We could put on a festival." And, you need people. Good, reliable people. People who show up, people who have got your back, people who will say the things you need to hear even you may not want to hear them, and people who will get the job done. To those people — namely the Mudtown Records steering committee — we say thank you.
We want to thank our volunteers. At one point, our volunteer co-ordinator was managing nearly 100 volunteers per festival. We're sure they didn't get to see a thing. Thanks for giving us your time, rather than watching the show.
We want to thank our sponsors. They took a chance on us, yet many sponsored us every year. If you knew how financially precarious the festival was, you'd know that we could not have done it without you. You knew there wouldn't be a big return, but still gave generously.
We want thank our venues — for sticking with us, even when you didn't know any of the acts. Thanks for opening your doors to new patrons. Thank-you for buying into a concept you may not have fully understood. And, thanks to your staff for staying up way past closing time, while we loaded out. And finally, we want to thank the artists and people of Owen Sound. From the beginning, you supported us. You've played the festivals, bought tickets, or helped out anyway you could. For every event, we knew that we could count on you.
We have no aptitude for the music business. It's a tough game — especially in a small city. In fact, we didn't start out wanting to be in the music business. We just wanted to see the bands we like in our own city. We saw a lot of them. Some of them we missed — damnit, but most of them we didn't. We hope you saw some.
We're not going anywhere. We're killing a festival we can't afford. The Mudtown Music & Arts Series will continue throughout the year, providing concerts, and different happenings. Mudtown Records will continue to produce and promote independently produced music. And, we've got plenty of other ideas up our sleeves.
Thank-you to the steering committee, volunteers, sponsors, small businesses, ticket buyers and other folks that helped make the seven Mudtown-Records-produced festivals happen: OTHERfolk 2010, 2011, & 2012, Lupercalia 2011, 2012, & 2013, and the one and only Mudtown Music & Arts Festival last year (2013). We couldn't have done it without you.
Ticket holders can return their tickets for a refund, or choose to use them for entry to their choice of Mudtown Music & Arts Series events during the Fall / Winter season of 2014.
Joshua Richardson & Kai Hulshof, Co-owners of Mudtown Records
Owen Sound, July 2014