The city of Plano terminated its contract this morning with pop-up music festival Starfest, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 8 at Oak Point Park, saying only that "the cancellation of this contract is in the best interest of the city and our community."
The Dallas Observer has obtained copies of Starfest Music Festival's contract with the city, as well as legal correspondence between city officials and festival founders David Taylor and Bill Pletch. The documents show that Plano's primary reason for cutting ties with Starfest is that it had not seen contracts for the artists supposedly booked to play the festival.
According to Starfest's contract with the city to lease Oak Point Park for $125,000, Plano was supposed to approve headliners scheduled to perform and receive executed contracts for the agreed-upon artists two days before Starfest was announced to the public.
News of Starfest and that Lil Wayne would be performing spread as early as Friday, Aug. 4, but as of yesterday, the city had not received contracts for the artists being advertised as performers on Starfest's website.
Assistant City Attorney Timothy Dunn notified festival organizers Monday morning that their contract, signed July 21, was at risk of being terminated. The letter said Starfest was in breach of contract for not providing executed artist contracts and not obtaining a surety bond and a special events permit 30 days before the festival.
The following afternoon, Michelle Hawkins, the city's arts, culture and heritage manager, sent a gentler email to Taylor and Pletch saying that she understood they were still looking for a headliner and reminding them the city of Plano needed to be involved in that decision.
"Since I know you are still pursuing a headliner, I just wanted to remind you that ... Section 3.03 of our contract states we have to mutually agree on a headliner and be given 48 hours' notice prior to any public announcement," Hawkins wrote. "This would be an incurable breach, so though it was worth mentioning again."
Taylor wrote back that night, saying Starfest was not "specifically looking for a headliner." He said Lil Wayne, Carnage, Hunter Hayes and Flo Rida "could be construed as headliners." Starfest has been advertising these artists on its website, but country music singer Hayes was removed from the lineup shortly after he was added.
The organizers' model of keeping the festival and its lineup a secret until the last minute has been the subject of ridicule. In a conversation with the Observer last week, Taylor said that half of the lineup would be revealed before the festival and half would be a surprise when you walked through the gates.
The lineup on Starfest's website shows that Lil Wayne, Machine Gun Kelly, Original Dodger, Carnage, Flo Rida, Bridgette Tatum, Jessica Gabrielle, French 75, Rappaport and Dustin Olson are confirmed to perform. Few of these are household names, and Oak Point Park has a capacity of 40,000.
Dunn continued to press Taylor and Pletch yesterday morning for the artist contracts, giving them a deadline of 5 p.m. At 4:11 p.m., Taylor wrote back with excuses.
"I apologize for the delay in getting them to you in a timely manner," Taylor wrote. "This is a matter of great frustration for our team because the contracts are taking much longer than originally told they would be from our attorneys."
Taylor attached a Dropbox link, which he said contained names of artists Starfest was working with.
Dunn responded at 5:07 p.m. that this was "not acceptable to the city" and attached a termination letter signed by City Manager Bruce Glasscock instructing the organizers to remove mention of Plano from Starfest's promotional materials.
Starfest's problems with Plano are only the latest blow this week to the festival. TMZ reported yesterday that a talent booker named Simon Perez is suing the festival for failing to pay his commission after he made offers on its behalf to Deadmau5, Flo Rida, All-American Rejects, DJ Khaled and Macklemore.
"Even our talent booking is one of the top music producers in the world; he does 400 million in album sales," Taylor told the Observer last week. "This guy's incredible. He's worked with everybody." He did not name Perez, and a Google search failed to turn up any details about a talent booker of that name.
TMZ says Starfest's organizers went behind Perez's back to book artists on its own.
"Starfest told Perez they'd already booked Drake, and had deep pockets for him to find additional headliner," the article reads.
Taylor told us last week that Starfest was conceived after the founders learned they might have the opportunity to book two top artists. Taylor said those artists fell through after one won multiple Grammys and Billboard awards and his price tripled. Taylor wouldn't name either artist, but Drake won a record 13 Billboard awards, as well as two Grammys, this year.
Unless Starfest is able to find another venue on short notice, it's likely to be canceled.
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