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Occupy Festival Postponed Amid Criticism Over Chicago Event's Ticket Prices, Proceeds

Posted: 03/27/2012 2:45 pm Updated: 03/27/2012 2:45 pm

The organizers behind Occupy Festival, a two-day music-oriented festival originally scheduled for May 12-13 in Chicago's Union Park, announced Tuesday that the event has been postponed.

The festival will be moved "to a yet to be determined date" after organizers "rework the format of the festival to ensure the event is done in a way that is consistent with the principles of the movement," according a news release.

The festival, slated to take place just before what are expected to be widespread protests outside the NATO summit, was slated to feature more than 25 "top international, national and local musicians" playing the festival's two main stages, in addition to "special musical guests and visual performing artists" who were to grace a third stage. Its admission was to run $35 for a one-day pass or $55 for a two-day pass. To date, no entertainers were identified as participating in the festival.

Principal among the changes the organizers say lie ahead for the festival are that 100 percent of its proceeds with be donated to the Occupy movement, ticket prices will be "significantly reduced" and the event's name will "most likely" be changed. The event will also likely be moved indoors as organizers seek an alternative venue.

The organizers explained that the changes were needed "after sharp criticism and continually having to explain where the money was going." Event organizer Graham Czach said in a statement:

We are not trying to brand Occupy or profiteer, we are trying to raise money for the movement and keep its momentum going in a good direction with messages through music and art. We are not trying to speak on behalf of the movement, we're just looking to provide a different platform for people to speak out and utilize their creativity in support of a movement they believe in.

Plans for the festival -- particularly its initial offering of "VIP passes" -- were, indeed, panned in both local and national media outlets, most scathingly in a Salon piece written by Natasha Lennard and titled "How not to stage an Occupy music festival."

"At best, the festival is a fundraiser, which will push some much-needed funds to Occupy Chicago (hopefully without strings attached)," Lennard wrote. "At worst, it is the sort of event that co-opts energy and anger and pacifies, rather than stokes, challenges and threats to the status quo."

While the VIP passes were ditched one day after organizers went public with their plans for the festival -- as Czach admitted to RedEye, "That was an oversight that was pretty big" -- the damage had already been done, in the eyes of many.

The criticism caused Occupy Chicago, which originally offered its seal of approval to the event, to take pause, RedEye reported, and sought out further opportunities to address the issue.

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Filed by Joseph Erbentraut  |