Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival Abruptly Canceled, Leaving Artists and Staff Holding the Bag

Doune the Rabbit Hole cancelled
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Doune the Rabbit Hole cancelled
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Photo Credit: Conall / CC by 2.0

Doune the Rabbit Hole festival has been canceled following organizers’ inability to pay performers and contractors, leading to a statement from BECTU and other trade unions.

Scotland’s Doune the Rabbit Hole festival, slated to take place between July 21 and 23, has been canceled following organizers’ inability to pay performers and contractors, leading the associated trade unions, BECTU, The Musicians’ Union, and Equity, to issue a statement.

“Over the last few years, this festival has amassed well over £1 million in unpaid bills to both bands and staff (£800,000 in 2022 alone). Many people, including the headline bands last year, were paid nothing other than their deposits,” the unions’ statement reads. “In some cases, bands are owed tens of thousands of pounds with no hope of getting their final payments, and this year’s cancellation will impact yet more bands and staff.”

“As trade unions, we have tried to have a constructive dialogue with the organizers of the festival, but the undertakings which were offered to us were not forthcoming. The organizers said that they would share sales figures in order to reassure us that they would make enough profit this year to begin to repay the debts owed by the previous festival,” the statement continues. “They stated their intention to repay those debts over three years. They have not provided any such information and that undertaking to repay those debts is now in jeopardy.”

The unions’ statement references a radio interview from June 8 on Good Morning Scotland, in which Craig Murray, one of the festival’s organizers, stated that Doune the Rabbit Hole’s ticket sales were hitting £5,000 per week, but needed to achieve ticket sales of £25,000 per week to achieve its target. 

Since then, festival organizers have said they would not be issuing refunds to ticket holders for the event’s cancellation. A statement posted on the Doune the Rabbit Hole website claimed that a “campaign of misinformation” from BECTU and other trade unions created a significant drop in ticket sales and forced them to cancel, despite having “looked at all options to keep the event on the table.”

“That he sought to blame trade unions, and by implication, the very people who work so hard at the festival each year, was incredibly disappointing,” the unions’ statement counters. “We had agreed with the organizers that they would offer 100% deposits up front to those considering working at the festival, but again, Craig disclosed that this has not happened, so once again those who had agreed to perform and work at this year’s festival will be left out of pocket by the failure of those organizing the event.”

“As trade unions, we were concerned that the festival was able to enter liquidation last year and be reborn so quickly with so many of the same faces involved, and that concern has been borne out with so many of the same issues this year,” the statement concludes. “We would urge any members affected by the cancellation to make contact with their trade union and will provide all the support we can.”

The event was held last July at the Cardross Estate after being canceled the two previous years due to the pandemic. It went into liquidation in December and is now under the management of the Festival Food Beverage and Property Services Company.