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Scottish festival cancelled after union boycott

Promoters of Scotland’s Doune The Rabbit Hole (DTRH) say they have cancelled the 2023 festival due to a call for a boycott of the event by trade union Bectu.

The camping festival, which was last held at the Cardross Estate, Stirling last July, had planned to relaunch under new management after the company behind it went into liquidation. But organisers say they are “beyond devastated” to have to announce the cancellation of the 2023 event, which had been scheduled to return to Stirlingshire from 21-23 July with acts such as Spiritualized and Thurston Moore Group.

In a lengthy statement, DTRH points the finger at Bectu – claiming the union hurt ticket sales by running a “campaign of misinformation”.

“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,” reads the post. “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.”

DTRH says it is unable to offer refunds to ticket-holders as “almost every single penny” had gone towards deposits for supply chain companies. “The safest and quickest way for our customers to get a refund is to contact their card provider and explain the situation swiftly,” it recommends.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Bectu – which represents the creative industries – warned members of its “serious safety concerns” over the running of the year’s DTRH. The union said it had previously outlined concerns to the festival’s management regarding “return of volunteer deposits, unpaid debts and safety onsite”.

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

It went on to advise its members to “think very carefully before committing to volunteer or work at DTRH” and to “ensure they are paid upfront for their services”.

DTRH says ticket sales “receded” in the wake of Bectu’s statement. “This is clearly no coincidence,” it says, adding that it was planning to take legal action against the union.

Bectu has responded by releasing a joint statement with the Musicians’ Union and Equity, in which it describes the cancellation as “unfortunate”, but labels attempts to blame trade unions for the festival’s demise as “incredibly disappointing”.

“Over the last few years this festival has amassed well over £1 million in unpaid bills to both bands and staff,” it adds. “We have tried to have a constructive dialogue with the organisers of the festival, but the undertakings which were offered to us were not forthcoming.

“As trade unions we are concerned that the festival was able to enter liquidation last year and be reborn so quickly with so many of the same faces involved, and that concern has been born out with so many of the same issues this year.”


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