Slated to run July 13 to 16, it would have been the fourth year for the Pemberton, B.C., event. There will be no automatic refunds for ticket holders, who may have to wait weeks to learn whether they will get their money back.
Vancouver, B.C. — The 2017 Pemberton Music Festival planned for mid-July was canceled on Thursday, potentially leaving ticket holders and local firms high and dry.
Pemberton Music Festival LP and 1115666 B.C. LTD, collectively know as “PMF,” is in bankruptcy and Ernst & Young has been appointed as trustee, according to a media release on the festival’s website. The document says there will be no automatic refunds for ticket holders, who may have to wait weeks to learn whether they will get their money back.
“As PMF is now in bankruptcy, it has no ability to provide refunds for tickets purchased,” the document says. “However, ticketholders may file a proof of claim form as an unsecured creditor with (Ernst & Young) in accordance with the claims process.”
Some ticket holders may also be able to get refunds from third parties if their tickets were purchased using a credit card. They should contact their bank or credit card issuer regarding a refund, the document says.
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Huka Entertainent, the producer contracted for the event, said in a statement that it did not make the decision to cancel the festival, which it claims came from Pemberton Music Festival LP.
“For the past four years, Huka Entertainment has worked to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the most beautiful place on earth,” the statement says. “We are heartbroken to see the 2017 Pemberton Music Festival canceled.”
Multiple sources involved with the event’s production, who spoke off the record with Postmedia before the announcement, said they had learned about the cancellation and bankruptcy Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Lewis Neilson, owner of Production Power Corporation, a Vancouver firm that provides electrical, heating and lighting services to the film, entertainment and special events industries, said he is among the many local firms that have lost money to the festival.
He is owed $55,000, his only loss in 35 years of working with the entertainment industry, he said. He received word of the cancellation Wednesday night.
“All of us are owed a lot of money,” he said. “No one’s going to get anything. As far as I know, they have no assets.”
Neilson said he believes the festival went bankrupt by bringing in U.S. firms and staff for the event and paying double or triple what local firms would have charged.
“They had no faith that any suppliers in Canada could do a decent job,” he said.
University of B.C. student Colby Messih had made plans to attend the four-day event and was upset by news of the cancellation.
Messih said he paid $500 US for tickets, camping and parking and planned to attend with 40 other students who had scraped money together while studying.
“I feel pretty sad,” he said. “I wish they would have just organized it better.”
Messih said he is hopeful there will be refunds, but he knows that is unlikely because “it seemed like (the organizers) didn’t know what they were doing to begin with.”
Slated to run July 13 to 16, it would have been the fourth year for the Pemberton event, and was to feature headliners Chance the Rapper, Muse and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as Major Lazer, Haim, Run The Jewels and dozens more acts.
Last year, the festival drew a record 180,000 fans over four days to Pemberton Village, north of Whistler. The event has brought major international acts such as Pearl Jam, Snoop Dogg, The Black Keys, Nine Inch Nails, Frank Ocean and Soundgarden.
The cancellation came after lineup announcements were delayed several times in recent weeks.
As of Thursday afternoon, four-day, general-admission tickets were still selling for $369, while VIP tickets — which included special entrances, viewing and parking — cost $899, and Super VIP tickets cost $1,799.
The event is produced and promoted by Huka in collaboration with the Village of Pemberton, Sunstone Group, Lil’wat Nation and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
It is the second major festival the regional district has lost in the past year, after the Squamish Festival was canceled in spring 2016. Founded in 2010, it brought major acts to the Squamish Valley including Drake, Weezer, Metric, Bad Religion, The Tragically Hip, Eminem and Bruno Mars.