Show Must Not Go On

MTK music fest canned over weak ticket sales
A 3D rendering of the event not to be.

    Organizers of the Music to Know festival, a two-day music and shopping event that was to be held on an unused runway at East Hampton Airport on Saturday and Sunday, canceled the event last weekend, citing poor ticket sales.
    On Saturday, an announcement went up on the festival’s Web site saying the first-time concert promoters, Chris Jones and Bill Collage, were deeply disappointed to have to cancel the event.
    The concert would have featured Vampire Weekend on the first night and Bright Eyes on the second, with additional performances by a host of other indie bands. Fashion boutiques and food kiosks were promised, as were shuttle buses to remote parking fields. Tickets were $195 for the weekend.
    This week, the Web site had a single message for ticketholders seeking refunds, promising to provide directions for reimbursement no later than tomorrow. Marina Van, the director of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, said some potential concertgoers had called the chamber looking for information about refunds.
    The concert received an East Hampton Town permit over the objections of a board minority and numerous members of the public. Its cancellation, while welcome to those who feared the traffic and other potential effects of an influx of festival patrons, is a blow to the local nonprofits that were to have received a donation from the concert promoters.
    In return for issuing a mass-gathering permit for the show, town officials had extracted a promise that the MTK organization would give a total of $100,000 to charities, regardless of profits. The town board developed a list of recipients, which included the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, the Retreat, and food pantries.
    The $100,000 was put in an escrow account at Bridgehampton National Bank some weeks ago, but, according to an agreement between MTK and the town, the donation was to be made only if the concert took place. “If for any reason whatsoever the event does not take place, all charity money deposited in escrow is to be refunded immediately to MTK,” the agreement says.
    According to a story in The New York Times, only 2,500 tickets to the event had been sold as of last weekend, far fewer than the minimum of 5,500 sales needed for it to break even. The town permit authorized up to 9,500 people at the event.
    Originally, the festival was to have been held in a field in Amagansett. After a split town board issued a permit for that to take place, a week after the idea was first floated in December, numerous Amagansett residents protested. Eventually, some filed suit to have the permit rescinded.
    The lawsuit was dropped after the organizers arranged to move the festival to a portion of the airport’s Runway 4-22, which is not being used.
    According to a license agreement, $25,000 in rent would have been paid to the town’s airport fund for use of the site from Aug. 8 to Aug. 17, to allow time for setting up the festival and dismantling.

    An area adjacent to the runway would have been cleared of vegetation and then replanted. Jim Brundige, the airport manager, said this week that the clearing had not taken place before the concert was canceled.
    The installation of a security fence had begun, and Mr. Brundige said Monday that he had called Mr. Jones to ask that it be immediately removed. He said he was concerned that the fence could cause deer to cross over other parts of the airport, perhaps leading to collisions.
    The organizers had obtained the required approval of the Federal Aviation Administration to use the site. The rest of the airport would have remained open for regular aircraft traffic.
    Mr. Brundige said he had attended planning meetings, most convened by the town, that took place weekly for several hours over the course of about two months. “I wish I had the hours back,” he said.
    Councilman Dominick Stanzione said this week that town officials had accepted a “work-to-reward ratio” and had been willing to put in some time on administrative details in order to gain the $100,000 donation for local charities.    

With Reporting by David E. Rattray