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NEWS: Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival 2023 is cancelled

Just a few weeks before it was due to take place at the Cardross Estate near Stirling in Scotland, the Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival has been called off. Scheduled for three days from the 21st of July, with headline appearances from SpiritualizedNeville Staple, and the Thurston Moore Group, Doune The Rabbit Hole was cancelled after BECTU, the union for the creative industries, had earlier urged people not to attend the festival, following reports that workers and performers were still waiting to be paid for last year’s event.

At 17.15 hours yesterday evening, the following lengthy announcement was made by the Doune The Rabbit Hole organisers:

We are beyond devastated to announce the cancellation of Doune The Rabbit Hole 2023 and the end of the Festival for the foreseeable future as a result of the call for a boycott of the event by BECTU. The team has tried everything in our power to recover from the challenges of 2022 and to produce the event our audience deserves, while making good on our promises to pay creditors from the 2022 event. Sadly, since the start of BECTU’s call for a boycott in June, based on a campaign of misinformation, the numbers are just not stacking up and we have no choice other than to cancel the event. We’ve looked at all options to keep the event on the table, as we know how much it means to all the people and families who have bought tickets, but we just aren’t able to produce the event in the current environment. We’ve seen a number of other festivals cancelled across the country so far this year citing the cost of living crisis and increased costs as factors. Those events have not also had the challenges posed by sustained media and social media campaigns spurred on by BECTU, to try and prevent them from going ahead using conjecture, misinformation and rumour presented in bad faith. You can see from the below graphs (taken directly from our ticket sales platform) what our historic sales look like at this time of year and the impact BECTU’s most recent statement has had on our sales (and the reason we have had to take the decision to cancel the event). The graphs show that in June we usually see a good rise in sales which sustains until the event in July, and shows that we always see a pretty good response to our marketing campaigns. It is plain to see from the graphs below that our sales have receded since the BECTU statement on 4th June, despite a marketing push which would normally see a good return. This is clearly no coincidence.

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We are so sorry to everyone that we’ve not been able to continue to run the event and win the fight in the name of truth and sincerity and just doing the right thing. We are beyond upset that we will not be able to prove the cynics wrong, that their campaign to prevent us from being allowed to make good on our promises and “trade through” the event’s cash-flow crisis has succeeded by sewing the seeds of doubt on our intentions in running the event and promoting any material they could conceive that might discredit us, taking no due diligence as to the truth of their claims in reality. We will be seeking to take action against BECTU, who have prevented Doune the Rabbit Hole 2023 from going ahead through the orchestrated spread of misinformation designed to induce a boycott. Please see below our Lawyer’s letter to BECTU on this matter.

We’re not just devastated for the fact that we will not be seeing another Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival, we’re devastated for the legacy of the event which is being actively tarnished, a legacy, which over the years has seen more than 30,000 attendees enjoy the festival, which has gainfully employed hundreds of people across varying roles. Not to mention providing as many as 2000 gigs for Scottish artists, contributing around £3.5 million to Scotland’s Creative Economy, a similar number to the Stirlingshire economy in incidental benefits, and establishing some of the finest festival memories in audience’s minds while doing so. From the glorious rendition of Sister Sledge’s ‘Lost in Music’ on our mainstage in 2019, to the raucous shows in packed marquees by smaller acts like The Langan Band and Bombskare, not to mention show-stopping performances by the likes of Venetian SnaresSecret Chiefs 3, and Ho99o9 to mention a select few. Wikileaks Editor-in-Chief, Kristin, talking in the Douniversity, a gong bath under the oak trees, Colonel Mustard headlining the Whistleblower Stage, foam and glitter fights in the family area, a secret show in the woods, taking some time out to learn how to throw a bowl on a pottery wheel, a pigeon-breast wrap from a Land Rover Army Field-Kitchen, a thousand tent canvasses absorbing the mist at sunrise in the Parkland of Cardross estate. All of that is no more, subject to a sustained campaign of negativity by a few cynical individuals, and we’re so sorry and immeasurably sad that it’s now been lost.

We are so sorry to all the families and friends who were looking forward to another weekend just like that with us this year. We really appreciate the trust and faith many of you have placed with us in buying a ticket and the support you have shown for Doune. We know that we need to be as transparent as possible with you about the situation going forward so you can plan something else to do this summer – we can’t believe and are so sorry to be putting you in this position. In terms of refunds, we must urge you to contact your bank/credit card provider directly to process a refund, explain the situation to them and they should, in most cases, be able to help recover your money. For the next few weeks someone will be checking our [email protected] email address, so if you have any questions about this process please feel free to email there. Unfortunately, BECTU were among those who forced our hand in saying we would pay ALL of our bills in advance to supply chain companies (whilst simultaneously working in the media to prevent the event from going ahead), as a result we have already paid out almost every single penny of the event’s income towards those deposits. That means the safest and quickest way for our customers to get a refund is to contact their card provider and explain the situation swiftly. The return of Volunteer Deposits has already been initiated, so if that applies to you, you’ll see the funds in your account already.

We are so sorry to everyone that this is the outcome of all our efforts, we really, honestly feel utterly devastated to have reached the conclusion that we have to cancel the event. We are especially sorry to fans and families who have been looking forward to the festival as a big summer outing, and who have supported us through the last 11 months despite the difficulties we’ve faced. We’re so sad to say that this is definitely “it” for DTRH, we won’t be back, we can’t be back, so from here we wish you all well and hope you go on to find wonderful new independent festivals where you can continue your voyages of discovery. Goodbye, farewell, and take care.

The DTRH Team x
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The responses to the news on social media platforms have ranged from great disappointment and sadness at the loss of this hugely popular festival to much anger, the latter fuelled by the organisers urging ticket holders “to contact your bank/credit card provider directly to process a refund,” rather than offering to make good any refund themselves.

A joint statement from BECTU, the Musicians’ Union and Equity, said: “We are of the view that it is unfortunate that the Doune the Rabbit Hole festival due to take place in July is now cancelled.

“However over the last few years this festival has amassed well over £1 million in unpaid bills to both bands and staff.

Many people, including the headline bands last year, were paid nothing other than their deposits In some cases bands are owed tens of thousands of pounds with no hope of getting final payments. This year’s cancellation will impact yet more bands and staff.

We’ve tried to have a constructive dialogue with the organisers of the festival, but the undertakings which were offered to us were not forthcoming.

We would urge any members affected by the cancellation to make contact with their trade union and will provide all the support we can.”

Photos: Simon Godley

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.