After Creatures of the Night festival was suddenly and mysteriously cancelled mid-festival on Saturday, attendees were left angry and confused, many of whom had traveled far and wide for the event. At the time, the festival offered little more than an obfuscating Facebook post on the matter. Now, they’ve attempted to offer an explanation to patrons in a very lengthy statement. 

Aqueous Saves The Day With Three-Hour Set At Cancelled Creatures Of The Night Festival

The gist is that the festival didn’t have enough money to pay its staff or the artists, confirming rumors that were circulating. A first year festival often takes a beating financially. However, most festival producers anticipate and analyze cash-flow well in advance, not on the last day of the festival. They say most festivals, as with most businesses, don’t make money for three years. Most inaugural festivals make sure they have enough capital to pay off their staff and talent costs before signing contracts with booking agencies. Some major first year festivals even put money in Escrow accounts to insure booking agents their artists will be paid, despite the festival’s success or failure.

Nevertheless, the festival ensures that refunds will eventually be issued, but asks patrons to “be patient”. To be fair, the majority of social media reactions to their apology has been one of forgiveness and understanding. However, we’re sure the artists, including headliners like Papadosio, who drove all the way to Tennessee only to find out they were not getting paid to perform, will not be as understanding. 

Read the festival’s full statement below:

A long over-due apology and explanation to our fellow Creatures:

At this point, we can’t begin to explain how sorry we are for the great errors in judgement and in management that resulted in our shortcomings this weekend, but still—we apologize for not meeting your expectations. The truth of the matter is this, we did what we could to generate enough income to fuel the festival throughout the weekend, but fell considerably short, resulting in wasted time and energy from our patrons, booking agencies, and artists alike.

As I’m sure you realize, it is difficult to stay motivated when there is no incentive. So, Saturday morning, upon realizing there would be no monetary compensation for the months of work they put in, the COTN staff took a huge hit to the overall morale of the team. However, the majority came together to desperately salvage what they could from the remains of this failure. Our staff did the talking, but it was the artists, the sound and stage crews, the security, the EMTs, the production team, the performers, and YOU, who made our last night on the grounds the success that it was. So, on the other side of our apology lies a sincere, deep level of gratitude. We counted on the culture of this scene to lift us out of our dismay, and keep us going – and to think /we/ were the ones supposed to be bringing /you/ a transformational experience…

Some of you are very upset, on many different levels, and rightfully so. The announcement we released Saturday afternoon was posted in the heat of the moment, when we still had absolutely no idea how the rest of the weekend would roll out. Our first mistake was in stating that the entire festival was cancelled, and our second was in stating that new arrivals would be turned away at the gates. To be asked to turn around despite purchasing a ticket and driving from all over the country to a meeting place that was supposed to be welcoming you with open arms was inexcusable. For those of you who came out solely to pledge your allegiance to the rail–to catch the headlining acts you love so much that we couldn’t pay for, we failed you. We promised an amazing lineup and in the end just could not afford it.

So, a breakdown of what happened:

There are so many uncalculated costly factors that a first-time coordinator doesn’t take into consideration, making budgeting extremely difficult, despite all of the planning and double-checking. What we thought would cost us $238,000 ended up costing closer to $350,000 due to contractual disputes between our management and the land owner, as well has an honest lack of understanding of what it actually takes to turn a dream this big into reality. We depended on ticket sales to carry us through the weekend, but didn’t get the kind of draw we desperately anticipated. So, now, we sit here ashamed that we could not give each and every one of you what you desired and deserved. Financial shortcomings aside, we were understaffed, and we excitedly took on a project that was too large on many levels from the start, instead of starting small and with patience and focus, building up from there.

Blinded by ambition, and desire to deliver an unbelievable experience to your hearts, we forgot about what we were /actually/ trying to show you—a new vision of sustainability and personal growth. I wanted with every bone in my body to give you all of this, and failed, but I will never stop working to make it up to each and every one of you. We lost every dime that we had, and have a very considerable number to work up to, just to pay the artists and contracts that we couldn’t pay this weekend. I need you to understand that this process is going to be a long one, but we promise to keep an open, honest line of communication between us. Please understand that the staff that is left behind is made up of a few people who also suffered great losses, but is still donating their time and energy to help work this out with all involved.

With that said, please stay tuned for more information on our refund applications. We will NOT leave you hanging on this, but we ask you for patience.
We shot for the moon on this year’s lineup, and fell back to earth on a cloud, thanks to your compassion and dedication to this lifestyle. For all of you who stayed, I have been crying tears of joy thinking about what you did for me. This past weekend, I saw my dream die in front of my eyes, and you picked it up off the ground, welcomed it into the warmth of your heart, and brought it back to life. Your support encourages me to keep trying. You stuck around to bring out what you wanted from the experience, and it was /you/ who has inspired /me/. When I went on stage to announce that you wouldn’t be getting the experience you paid for, you basically offered your help to do what you could to keep the fire alive. It was the scariest moment of my life, turned into the most beautiful moment of my life. I will forever think of you as my family.

Let’s reflect on the 5 Principles of COTN:

Experience Ultimate Joy: Despite having many reasons to be disappointed, you made the most of a disappointing situation, resulting in blissful creative expression that came from within your own heart.

Express Yourself Fully: When the festival shut down, the creatures in you came out full-throttle. YOU became the show, delivering incredible performances.

Radical Inclusion: So many of you have been radically understanding, despite our shortcomings. You accepted us as we were, and turned around to support us anyway.

Seek Transformation: When we dropped the ball, every single person involved transformed a commercial festival into a burn in a matter of hours. Stages were torn down and rebuilt, emotions that were all across the board came into harmony, and we came together to transform our failure into an inspiring example of creative ability.

Be The Fire: Each and every one of you shone bright. You delivered on your end of the bargain.

So, Creatures…please be patient with us answering your questions. We have a lot of them to get to as we simultaneously figure out many more details as this story continues to unfurl. We have a dream that hasn’t quite died yet. It has come alive in a different form, but again, we call on you to support it and place your trust in it. In the meantime, we will reflect on our mistakes, and learn from each of your experiences. Again, our deepest apologies to our Creatures family. Thank you for all that you have done.

Alex Cole-Gardner | Owner, Co-Producer
& COTN Management

[Original Statement via Facebook]