Woodstock 50: Court Allows the Beleaguered Music Festival to Proceed But New Funding Is Required

A court ruled that the Woodstock 50 festival is allowed to continue after attempts were made to cancel the event by its former financier.

“Woodstock 50 is on!” Woodstock concert organizer Gregory Peck triumphantly announced after the ruling.

According to Variety, the organizers had signed a contract with Amplifi to host the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in Watkins Glen, New York, from Aug. 16-18, but Amplifi’s parent company and concert financier, Dentsu, attempted to cancel Woodstock 50 after logistical issues began to arise.

Judge Barry Ostrager found that Dentsu, an advertising and marketing agency based in Japan, and it’s subsidiary Amplifi, did have a “control option” to assume control over the music festival should the concert organizers fail to show an ability to actually put on the show. However, that control stops short of “unilateral cancellation power,” meaning they cannot cancel the festival entirely.

“We have always relied on the truth and have never lost faith that the Festival would take place,” Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang told Variety of the court case. “I would like to thank all of the talent and their representatives for their patience and support. Woodstock 50 will be an amazing and inspiring festival experience.”

While the concert is set to go on as planned, Judge Ostrager declined to order Dentsu to pay back the $17.8 million that Lang alleged had been “siphoned” of from the festival’s bank accounts.

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A representative for Dentsu provided a statement on the ruling to Variety, outlining their interpretation of the court decision.

“We feel vindicated to hear that the court agreed with what we have maintained all along: Woodstock 50 was not entitled to access the festival bank account per the contract and thus any access now is denied and the $17.8M remains with Amplifi Live. The court also noted that ‘…Amplifi [Live] asserted by convincing testimony adduced at the hearing that it intended to mitigate its damages from a music festival that could not be successfully produced by mid-August because, among other reasons, multiple permits necessary to conduct the Festival were not in place, tickets had not yet been sold, no budget had been agreed upon, necessary and expensive structural improvements to the Festival site and related areas had not yet started, and the production company essential to produce the Festival had withdrawn,’” the statement read.

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“The court did not rule that Amplifi Live’s assumption of control over the festival was improper or alter that status in any way,” the statement concludes. “While we understand that pursuant to the court’s ruling Amplifi Live cannot cancel the festival without Woodstock 50’s agreement, at this time we do not intend to further invest in the festival due to the issues noted by the court, as well as the compressed timeframe, and multiple health and safety concerns.”

With Dentsu/Amplifi not forced to return the $17.8 million to Woodstock concert organizers, there could be cash flow issues in making the festival a reality. And though the court ruling allows the concert to go on as planned, the judge presiding over the case expressed doubts as to if the festival will indeed proceed without needed funds.

Should the festival continue on, concert-goers can expect to see the likes of JAY-Z, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons, and the Black Keys, as well as original Woodstock alum Santana.

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