Harvest Picnic Faces Uncertain Future as Festival Files Massive Lawsuit Among Claims of Unpaid Artists

Harvest Picnic Faces Uncertain Future as Festival Files Massive Lawsuit Among Claims of Unpaid Artists
This summer, the Harvest Picnic returned to Christie Lake in Dundas, ON, for its sixth edition. Now, the future of the fest is in jeopardy thanks to a torrent of lawsuits.

As the CBC reports, the litigious shitstorm goes in both directions. Harvest Picnic organizer Jean-Paul Gauthier has filed suit against Canadian booking company the Feldman Agency, seeking damages to the tune of $27 million. Meanwhile, a number of Harvest Picnic performers claim they've never been paid.

It all started when Feldman client Jann Arden backed out of this year's fest one day before she was supposed to perform. Citing an unexpected illness, her tweet was met with kind words from the official Harvest Picnic account. Behind the scenes, however, things were not so jovial.

Gauthier's September Seventh booking company had paid half of their $75,000 fee for Jann Arden up front, and that money was refunded by Feldman when she cancelled. As part of their hefty lawsuit against Feldman, however, they're demanding $6 million in damages from Arden and her management alone, citing a "loss of expected revenue" and "losses based on costs incurred due to the breach of contract."

The lawsuit also alleges that performers the Cowboy Junkies and Johnny Reid broke their radius clauses by booking other shows surrounding the festival. According to the CBC, the clause claimed that the Junkies could not play within 150 kilometres of Hamilton within 90 days of the festival, while Reid couldn't play within 500 kilometres of Hamilton from May 30 to November 26.

Harvest Picnic's radius clause has caused problems in the past. Last year, Iron & Wine were booted from the bill for booking a show under a different moniker, some 120 kilometres away from Hamilton.

Speaking to the CBC, Feldman Agency president Jeff Craib called the lawsuit "wholly without merit," "frivolous and vexatious," adding, "Our lawyers are in the process of launching a court application to have it dismissed in short order."

The financial troubles go both ways, as a number of artists claim they've yet to be paid for their performance at this year's fest. The Rheostatics, the Killjoys and Jeremy Fisher all confirm they're awaiting payment, while stagehands and technicians have not yet been paid the remaining balance they're owed after a deposit was paid before the festival started.