After 2019 Festival Cancellation, Financier Settles With Woodstock 50

A long and sometimes bewildering saga reaches its conclusion

Woodstock site
A sign and VW bus are displayed at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

While it may seem strange, at this point in time, to think about music festivals being canceled by something other than the pandemic, it wasn’t that long ago that the strange saga — or at least a chapter of that saga — of Woodstock 50 came to an end. The festival was initially slated to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original festival, but gradually encountered bump after bump in the road, before eventually being called off.

That was the end of the festival, but it wasn’t the end of the disputes. The festival’s organizers had been working with the advertising agency Dentsu, with Dentsu slated to finance the whole thing. Dentsu then backed out of their involvement, setting in motion a series of events that would eventually leave the whole thing a no-go.

If you heard all of that and thought, “Clearly someone has taken legal action as a result of this,” you are absolutely correct. Pitchfork reports that the legal battle between the organizers and Dentsu has finally reached its conclusion. Late last year, writes Pitchfork’s Matthew Ismael Ruiz, “an arbitration panel ruled in a confidential hearing that Dentsu had breached its contract with Woodstock 50.” Dentsu was supposed to provide the festival with $49 million.

According to the article, Dentsu will cover damages, but will not cover “unrealized potential profits.” The total amount of money Dentsu will be paying to resolve the matter was not revealed. Still, it brings some closure to one of the most head-spinning music festival fiascos not named “Fyre” in recent years.

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