Tshwane loses R65m on failed festival

2014-09-21 15:00

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The City of Tshwane spent R65?million on what would have been its bash of the year, the TribeOne Festival.

Of that, R10?million alone was spent on US pop star Nicki Minaj’s nonrefundable appearance fee.

Her army of fans, nicknamed The Barbz, are devastated, but Minaj is being “really nice” about the cancellation of the festival, which was due to be held next weekend.

The hefty performance fee charged by Minaj?–?and paid for with funds from the City of Tshwane, which forked out R25?million to pay artists, with a further R40?million on infrastructure?–?has, in all likelihood, gone down the drain after the festival was cancelled this week, according to sources.

Artists claim money paid by promoters as they could have been earning that amount elsewhere?–?and their names are sullied when events are cancelled.

The city is taking legal action to try and force TribeOne to go ahead with the concert, initiated?–?according to TribeOne?–?by Sony Music Entertainment SA, which has been

left with egg on its face.

Two of TribeOne’s directors are local Sony bosses and, according to the artist contracts, Sony was responsible for paying the artists. But the record company did not respond to requests for comment.

Minaj is one of the more than 150 artists who was going to perform at the inaugural three-day concert on an unserviced patch of land in Cullinan, east of Pretoria. The concert was billed as “Africa’s biggest music festival”.

Derrick Kaufmann, spokesperson for TribeOne, confirmed to City Press that the company had been paid R25?million by the host city.

“This money was used to secure deposits for the artists.

“Nicki was paid in full and has been really nice about the whole situation. The only thing that had not been confirmed was travel and accommodation for her and

her 40-people entourage,” he said.

Sources in the industry said although Minaj might have been paid, many other artists were partly paid or not paid at all. Several artists’ managers were getting restless and threatening to pull their performers off the bill.

Linda Maseko, manager for popular House duo Liquideep, said their communication with the organisers was not consistent. This week, they received a letter of apology for the cancellation of the festival.

“No other explanation has been given. Certain payments were expected and some dates have lapsed

for these to be effected, we are considering whether to pursue this any further or to just abandon the matter,” said Maseko.

His sentiments echoed those of several other artists.

“We are bitter,” said Mensa from Ghanaian hip-hop sensation FOKN Bois. The duo showed City Press a series of emails where they had begged TribeOne to confirm their flight arrangements.

Mensa said the group had not received a single cent for the event and were inconvenienced by the booking.

Kaufmann insisted TribeOne had been communicating with everyone.

He blamed the city for not ensuring that the infrastructure demands had been met.

“We met with the city a month before the show and informed them they were behind schedule. They told us there was a significant political risk and the show had to go on,” said Kaufmann.

The city refuses to comment, saying the matter was sub judice. The case will be heard at the North Gauteng High Court tomorrow.

Earlier in the week, the city released a statement saying it had fulfilled the agreement with organisers.

“This included certain financial obligations which we would not like to discuss beyond this as the matter is before the courts. We may also have a potential damages claim which we may have to pursue at some point if the festival cannot be salvaged,” read the statement.

While the two sides argue about who was in the wrong, many artists are disappointed that the festival has crashed. Gang of Instrumentals member Mandla Ngcongwane told City Press he received a call from his manager on Thursday, but did not have all the details.

“I don’t know the politics behind this, but it would have been an amazing event. The band was already doing rehearsals for the show. I’m really shocked,” he said.

Another local artist on the bill was MXO, who was shocked when he heard from City Press that the event had been cancelled.

“We were ready and looking forward to entertain and dish out new material from the latest Peppercorns project.

“We had also turned down other gigs to perform at TribeOne. "Hopefully, all involved parties will make amends of the situation,” he said

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