LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | Chamber should pay band
July 18, 2012 · Updated 8:19 AM
To the editor:
Most locals are aware of the non-payment of the New Iberians band at Choochokam this year. That non-payment was justified under the pretext that by violating a clause in the contract between Choochokam and the artist, the artist forfeited payment.
Investigation reveals the same contract has been used for years without enforcement. When one of the production staff was asked by a local musician prior to a performance at a past festival, he was told the clause was a formality to safeguard the festival; once on stage artists could play what they want.
Finally, if a contract violation presented so much risk to the festival, why was the performance allowed to continue? A real risk would have been mitigated by stopping the performance accompanied by an explanation to the crowd. Allowing the band to conclude its performance and play more non-originals furthers the festival’s exposure to risk.
In short, the inescapable conclusion is that this uniquely selective contract enforcement was not to avoid risk. It was to avoid payment.
The people directly responsible for this have proven by their actions they will not be swayed by ethics or fairness. Choochokam’s masters, not their mendacious minions, are responsible for making this right. To quote from the Choochokam website:
“In 2010, the Langley Chamber of Commerce and Choochokam board members agreed to fold Choochokam Arts in under the chamber’s umbrella organization.”
Choochokam Arts retained its autonomy, but is now housed in the chamber office, enjoying the support of the Langley chamber staff. Through this arrangement, Choochokam Arts has been allowed to seek additional sponsorship and promotional opportunities through the chamber’s network.
The chamber of commerce is therefore ultimately the responsible party because while the chamber didn’t itself welch on the band, workers under their umbrella did.
The Langley chamber needs to take two steps:
Pay the band.
Sever the chamber and Choochokam’s connection to the people who by this deplorable action have dishonored the chamber, Langley and South End generally.
The chamber and its members have benefited from the business the festival brings to Langley for years. Now it is time to honor those decades of benefits and do the right thing.
P.S. It is impossible to close without noting what a slap in the face this is for South End musicians, always ready over the 40-plus years we have lived here to play for free to help distressed neighbors and organizations. The musicians here ask not “for whom the bell tolls,” it tolls for all musicians when any one of us is cheated.
John and Peggy Kimbell