Woodstock 50 is officially cancelled
Well, it's finally happened - after months of trouble with venues, producers, investors, tickets, and permits, Woodstock 50 is officially cancelled. Variety reported the news, and original Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang confirmed it in a statement:
We are saddened that a series of unforeseen setbacks has made it impossible to put on the Festival we imagined with the great line-up we had booked and the social engagement we were anticipating. When we lost the Glen and then Vernon Downs we looked for a way to do some good rather than just cancel. We formed a collaboration with HeadCount to do a smaller event at the Merriweather Pavilion to raise funds for them to get out the vote and for certain NGOs involved in fighting climate change. We released all the talent so any involvement on their part would be voluntary. Due to conflicting radius issues in the DC area many acts were unable to participate and others passed for their own reasons. I would like to encourage artists and agents, who all have been fully paid, to donate 10% of their fees to HeadCount or causes of their choice in the spirit of peace. Woodstock remains committed to social change and will continue to be active in support of HeadCount’s critical mission to get out the vote before the next election. We thank the artists, fans and partners who stood by us even in the face of adversity. My thoughts turn to Bethel and its celebration of our 50th Anniversary to reinforce the values of compassion, human dignity, and the beauty of our differences embraced by Woodstock.
It's crazy to think that at the beginning of the year, there were two separate, competing festivals in New York State planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock on the weekend of August 16-18: the official, Michael Lang-helmed fest at Watkins Glen that is now finally cancelled, and a second unofficial fest called Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival, which was to be produced by Live Nation and brand communications agency INVNT. Bethel Woods is still holding concerts with original Woodstock performers John Fogerty and Santana, as well as Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band, that weekend, but it'll be a scaled down version of the "new three-day festival of music, culture and community," with TED-style talks and special exhibits, that was originally envisioned.
Rumors of cancellation plagued Woodstock 50 as early as April, when tickets never went on sale as they were scheduled to, and at the end of the month the festival's financial backer (at the time), Dentsu Aegis Network, announced its cancellation. In the legal battle that followed, the Supreme Court of New York determined that Dentsu couldn't cancel the festival on its own. However, they also couldn't compel Dentsu to return $17 million organizers claim was "illegally swept" from festival bank accounts. The festival eventually found a new investor, but lost its venue, and after many failed attempts at staging Woodstock 50 in Vernon, NY, found a new venue in Baltimore: Merriweather Post Pavilion. Of course, at that point, artists began dropped off in droves, and that leads us to today's formal cancellation.