Woodstock 50 organisers deny festival has been cancelled

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Organisers of a festival intended to mark the 50th anniversary of Woodstock have “vehemently denied” the event is cancelled after a contradicting announcement by the main financial backer.

Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus and The Killers were all booked to play Woodstock 50, which was set to take place in New York State. The original Woodstock festival, billed as “three days of peace and music”, took place in August 1969 and is regarded as a pivotal moment in music history.

Artists including Dead and Co, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Chance the Rapper, Sturgill Simpson, Halsey and Cage the Elephant had also been lined up to play at the three-day event, due to take place from 16 to 18 August.

Around 100,000 people were expected to attend.

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However, a statement from chief funder Dentsu Aegis Network, the Japanese PR and advertising giant, said on Monday 29 April that it could not ensure “the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees”.

The first signs of problems emerged when festival tickets did not go on sale on 22 April as planned.

The firm said the decision to cancel the festival had been made after careful consideration.

“As difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved,” a representative said.

Yet organisers have denied the festival has been cancelled outright, telling local newspaper the Poughkeepsie Journal: “Woodstock 50 vehemently denies the festival’s cancellation and legal remedy will (be) sought.”

Michael Lang, the promoter of Woodstock 50 and one of the lead organisers of the 1969 festival, has also told The New York Times that Dentsu “do not have the right to unilaterally cancel the festival”.

According to the paper, Lang was “caught by surprise” by Dentsu’s announcement. He also voiced his intention to secure another financial backer for Woodstock 50 – especially given all of the acts have apparently already been paid in full.

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But Dentsu, whose investment arm Amplifi Live is the lead funder for the festival, said a clause in its contract with the organisers gave it the option to cancel the festival.

Reports suggested that $30m (£23.2m) has been spent on booking artists for the event. Dentsu declined to comment on the figure, but told the BBC that all contractual obligations had been met.

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