The day after news broke that the Pemberton Music Festival was filing for bankruptcy, the town’s mayor says the announcement was just as surprising to him as it was to everyone else.
Speaking on CKNW’s Simi Sara Show, Mayor Mike Richman says the announcement caught him by surprise, as he had very recently had meetings with organizers.
“I’m not privy to their internal finances or working, we had meetings as recently as a few days ago late last week on permitting processes… They were moving ahead so I’m not sure what the trigger point was.”
However, he says in hindsight it wasn’t always smooth sailing for them.
“A couple of months ago I was aware they were doing an ‘internal reorganization.’ And I knew there were some issues to sort out, but it seemed to me it had been sorted out when they announced the line-up and started ticket sales and it looked like everything was a go.”
Richman says the festival was a huge economic driver for the town, bringing both jobs and exposure.
And it’s not the first festival in the area to disappear – the nearby Squamish festival was cancelled last year.
With both of those festivals gone, the benefits they brought along are gone as well.
“There was absolutely a great economic impact for our community through the festival, we’re going to miss that, no question,” Richman says.
However, the mayor says he’s optimistic for the future.
He says the fact that the Pemberton Festival went along without a hitch until now proves that the town is a great site for that type of event.
“I think we’ve also proven that we are a very viable venue for an event of this nature, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if other production companies in the next while will be knocking on the door to see if there’s a possibility there.”
Tickets were on sale for the festival until Thursday afternoon, the same day the festival’s bankruptcy was announced.
That announcement seemingly came out of nowhere, shocking the nearly 55,000 customers who had bought tickets.
Those customers may now be left without the ability to get a refund, as the festival owes creditors around $2.5-million USD.
When it comes to how the festival got to that point, Richman says he’ll be looking into it.
“We’ll let the dust settle, and then I’m hoping to be able to speak with organizers and stakeholders to kind of understand how we got here.”
With files from Jeremy Lye