– The controversy regarding the recently cancelled Strictly Mundial 2004, a world music showcase continues. Last week, World Music Central published the version of the
organizers, Artmaxx. This time, we reproduce the release issued by the European
Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals (EFWMF) Office:
The EFWMF Board of directors was, via the Strictly Mundial 2004 website, informed on April 10th that Artmaxx, which is solely responsible for the planning, production and programming as well as all financial matters related to Strictly Mundial 2004, has cancelled the event. As the information published by Artmaxx on their website has now also been reiterated in emails from Mr Salih Yigit as the Artmaxx director of Strictly Mundial 2004, we assume that this unfortunate decision is verified.
The EFWMF has throughout the planning process received a number of positive reports on the development of Strictly Mundial 2004. On April 2nd the board received the first indications that problems existed regarding financial issues, the number of registrations and sudden cancellations of previously confirmed artists. Actual facts however were not all verifiable and in part disputed by different sources.
EFWMF asked for assurances from Artmaxx Ltd that the company would, regardless
of the reported adjustments to the program, proceed in the preparations of Strictly Mundial and make the utmost efforts to produce an event meeting the standards the world music community rightly expects. On April 7th Artmaxx reconfirmed their commitment and gave such assurances. In accordance with this EFWMF issued a brief press statement as a number of rumors were already circulating.
The statement referred to Mr Bernhard Hanneken’s resignation as the Artmaxx
artistic director of Strictly Mundial 2004. While this was an undisputed fact, as the EFWMF board of directors was concerned, it soon became obvious that Artmaxx did not have this information and in fact disputed the accuracy of this. When EFWMF tried to verify the exact status of Mr Hanneken’s position it also became obvious that the issue was unexpectedly ambiguous.
A second press statement was therefore issued on April 8th admitting to the error and, as suggested by Mr Hanneken, made available to Artmaxx for further distribution. Claims are now made that this conceivable error caused Artmaxx to loose a number of sponsorships and funding.
Artmaxx finally produced what could only be regarded as an ultimatum demanding that EFWMF immediately agree to financially support Artmaxx with substantial sums. When this was refused it appears that Artmaxx took the decision to cancel Strictly Mundial 2004.
Artmaxx, in the statement published on their website and in the emails received confirming the cancellation, make a number of accusations against EFWMF. While EFWMF and the board of directors emphatically refute these there seems little
point to participating in a prolonged series of accusations and counter
accusations at this stage.
In the case of Strictly Mundial 2004 several breaches of contract have, as is now very clear, unquestionably been committed by Artmaxx, both as regards financial agreements, accurate reporting on developments and in other parts. Advice and support provided from the EFWMF office has apparently been ignored throughout the entire process. As regards the questions of funding the contract in no uncertain terms make it clear that the responsibility of EFWMF is to inform Artmaxx on funding and sponsorship opportunities, not to provide it.
EFWMF must of course consider what legal actions might have to be taken as regards Strictly Mundial 2004 and Artmaxx although the focus of our energies should and will be directed to the future rather than to the past.
What should be remembered is that Strictly Mundial is a concept developed by EFWMF but operated on what is in essence a franchise basis, making the partner for each edition solely responsible for all planning, production and programming as well as all financial matter. The general directions of each edition, as well as a number of very specific details, are regulated by legal contracts between EFWMF and, in this case, Artmaxx. EFWMF therefore is not involved with the actual planning, production and programming nor do the EFWMF have any other insights into them than what is publicly available or reported by the partner. The relationship is basically one of trust rather than of controls and stringent supervision.
The unfortunate, not to say scandalous, cancellation of Strictly Mundial 2004 at
an unforgivable late date will of course have severe, financially and otherwise,
consequences for a number of individuals, artists and organisations within the
world music community.
It is therefore a severe blow to the so far successful development of the brand
name Strictly Mundial and possibly also to the continued credibility of EFWMF.
EFWMF and the board of directors must proceed with a very thorough analysis of
the long-term validity as regards the present concept of Strictly Mundial, particularly the relationship between EFWMF and the partners involved in each future edition. New standards and methods for monitoring and supporting the planning of future events must be developed.
In part the process in this direction has already begun. The planned edition of
Strictly Mundial in Montreal, Canada 2005 has seen an unprecedented level of active involvement by EFWMF from the very beginning. Three board members have been, and will continue to be, directly involved in the general planning process. The partner selected is well-known and respected. A higher direct involvement by the EFWMF office staff is discussed. What additional changes and revisions to the concept and working relationships will be called for must be determined in the continued evaluation of what sadly went wrong with Strictly Mundial 2004.
At this stage EFWMF and the board of directors can but express their dismay as regards the unacceptable cancellation by Artmaxx. EFWMF and the board of directors fully realise that possible failures in clearly communicating the exact relationship and agreed division of responsibilities between EFWMF and Artmaxx will very likely mean that some of the frustrations and disappointments experienced by the world music community as regards Strictly Mundial 2004 also will reflect badly on EFWMF. We will however learn from the experience and will continue to the best of our abilities to perform the services for which EFWMF was founded.
We also invite all interested parties and stake holders in the continued development of Strictly Mundial to contribute and share with us thoughts, ideas and suggestion in this aspiration.
We would also like to express our gratitude for all the messages of understanding and support that we are receiving at this difficult time, and most especially for the assistance given by Turkish associates in safely getting our staff out of the Artmaxx offices and returned to Belgium.
The EFWMF Office on behalf of the Board of Directors
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.