Some musicians get paid as Homegrown Harvest Festival organizers address their problems.
[Updated] Last night, we ran "Homegrown Money Problems," examining the financial woes of the Homegrown Harvest Music and Arts Festival, and their impact on musicians. Today, the organizers sent an email to the musicians who performed:
Dear Homegrown Musicians and Performance Artists:
It's been a long ride. We are clearly not done yet. Thank you for your every effort at and for this very important Louisiana festival. We, the entire Board and staff at Homegrown Harvest are so sorry that our efforts fell short of estimated expectations. We understand how you must be feeling right now, and we join you in that.
First, we shall address the current payment situation, since that is the most important. The question we have been hearing most clearly is, "how do we plan to make this right?"
We are working on several avenues at this very moment to access funding that will cover the checks that were issued, as well as the remaining checks that we are still holding for performances, whether performed or not.
Step One. The festival was fully insured, and we are working on reviewing the policy for appropriate coverage. Further, there are also 14th hour (after the fact) sponsors that do not want to see this festival fail that are beginning to contact us, but with that comes many details, which we are working on. It will take a little time, but please know that we will make each and every one of the written checks good and payable as soon as possible. It won't happen overnight, but it *will* happen. The moment that you can cash them, we will most assuredly let you know.
Please know, as SO many have made clear to us that they do know... That you were never lied to, swindled, hoodwinked, or taken advantage of, intentionally or otherwise. Were that the case, you wouldn't have been receiving calls, or any other contact. Its taken a while for this letter to reach you because we had that festival site to close, all the backline and staging to return, all the physical labor that goes with such an event. It is a huge undertaking. It took several days to complete and this is the first free moment since long before the festival. By the way, thank you, to so many of you that volunteered on active festival days, parking cars, etc. We so appreciated that.
Where did the tide turn?
The moment it became clear that the numbers were not rising, we began to contact the bands about to take the stage to apprise them of the situation. It was out of respect for the performers that we did that. we may have missed one or two, but we diligently set ourselves to that task. we were surprised, and proud, of those of you that understood and chose to perform regardless. We respect those that opted not to perform unless payment was forthcoming. We understood all the reactions.
We are here, we are with you, and we know many of you are angry, disillusioned, disappointed, and many other emotions. We feel the same. But through it all, we are working very hard to rectify this situation. There will be a tomorrow, and there *will* be a second annual festival next year, as well as one the following year, and so on. We didn't do this for the fast buck. We did this for the long run, and the opportunity to give ALL Louisiana musicians and talented performers the chance to take an auspicious stage and showcase their talent. Yes, and to be paid for it.
Also, we did learn of a suspiciously concurrent event simultaneously held at our original venue in Rivertown, Kenner. It coincided with yet another interesting issue of newspaper and Internet-based event listings (such as the Lagniappe section of the Times Picayune and NOLA.COM) being altered. We have heard from many of you, as well as our food and art vendors and guests that they had been made aware of the Rivertown event, which incidentally bore some of our imagery (i.e. posters). Anyone with this information is asked to contact Alex Rawls at OffBeat Magazine and on Facebook, who is investigating that issue. [Gypsy Elise didn't realize that I'm no longer at OffBeat, but I am interested in information about the Rivertown event. - Alex]
A few of the bands did get lucky enough to have their checks honored. We had made deposits from Friday's attendance and a few checks did access those funds. Those bands are not included on this correspondence as it does not pertain to them, but to you. The funds are now depleted, and in fact overdrawn, and we ask that you please HOLD on to your check at this point. Don't throw it away, lose it, because it will have value as soon as we can work it all out. "Testing" the account won't help, so please don't just try and cash it. We will definitely let you know, but every time a check doesn't clear, bank charges accrue, and it will take that much longer for everyone else.
Thank You to those of you that have showed rock solid, unwavering support for our efforts. You are the ones that have gotten us through this rocky start and made it possible to focus beyond the negativity and press on for the good of all. Thank you for your personal calls, your personal, caring emails, your private messages, and your direct texts. We so appreciate it, and are proud that there are so many of you standing strong with us. We'll get there. As I said, there is strength in numbers. We felt hit on all sides with this event, and your support has made it all worth while.
No one.... No performer... Who was promised a check at the end of this, whether they performed or not, will not get paid. Unless someone specifically states that they want their performance to actually be their donation, we will find a way to cover every check. Not because of pressure or threats but because it was always the plan. We Will Get There. Just please let us work out our details. Complications at this point won't get anyone paid any faster, and may in fact slow down the process, so please, we ask your patience while we work on the options, one and all.
Please note: Only one of the service vendors has been paid, this situation covered all aspects of the festival.
"How did this happen?"
In the final weeks approaching the festival, we had funding sources that were taking longer than expected, but were still in the pipeline of issuance. Though there was a hum of concern, at the same time, we also felt that with so many bands, such notable names, as well as first time bands to festivals and their mass appeal, we were right in line for a great break even event. It was only 2 days before our Nov 9 opening that we found out that we would not be receiving a $100,000 grant that been rallying strongly, and pending without issue. When that occurred, we had the choice, yes, to cancel the festival. But as musicians (most of the board is in the industry, or a part of it in some large capacity) we still felt confident that the strength in numbers would allow us to make good on your payments.
It can be difficult for any first year festival, and we faced some difficult challenges, but all felt confident that our numbers, even considering those challenges, would reflect the support of the music community as a whole. We feel at next year's festival, such will be the case, especially now that we have if nothing else, set a solid footprint.
We want you to know that you are not alone. Many of our board members put in their own personal funds to keep this festival alive, not to mention 11 months of challenges and re-works due to venue and date changes. We lived with the reality that "The show must go on". We lived and continue to live with the reality that we did this for The Musicians Clinic and APEX Youth Center. We never lost sight of our goals. But this was never supposed to be a benefit concert where the musicians worked for free. We wanted to bring both concepts together. We appreciate that so many of you understand that.
So as we move forward with working to first and foremost, get you paid, we want to thank you for your patience. Reality will indeed line up with our intentions and the spirit behind the creation of this festival.
Elise De Sade Way- Producer
For Homegrown Harvest Music & Arts Festival
One musician that I have spoken has confirmed that the pay check has been made good.
Updated November 16, 9:20 a.m.
The musician who reported that the pay check had cleared later contacted me to see that it was returned NSF. The strikethrough reflects the change.