A number of artists have cancelled gigs at Belgrade's Resonate Festival this week after hearing of previous years' payment issues.
On Tuesday, a day before the festival, Dutch experimental musician Thomas Ankersmit published a Medium post saying that he and his collaborator, Phill Niblock, never got paid for their performance last year. "The organization is a tremendous mess," he writes. "The habit of not paying participants has persisted for years. The team's promises cannot be trusted."
In the post he links to a Facebook group organized by artists in Belgrade called Still Unpaid At Resonate Festival. Here a number of local and international artists posted their complaints about payment issues, including pioneering Norwegian ambient musician Biosphere, who played last year.
Today, Berlin-based programmer Gene Kogan took to Twitter to say that he also hadn't been paid for the workshop and lecture he gave last year.
As a result of this news, and other organizational issues, some of this year's artists have pulled out, including Alessandro Cortini, Caterina Barbieri and Abul Mogard.
Update, December 12th, 2018: A representative from Resonate has provided a statement to Resident Advisor.
It's no secret that Resonate Festival went through some turmoil in 2017, and there has been a lot of information going around in the last year and a half about what's going on. Much of it was hearsay that would require too much time to respond individually here, so we welcome the challenge to any further claims regarding mistreatment from Resonate Festival as we are confident that we can make clear of any situation that is put before us. Nevertheless, the rumors did originate from the actual problem we had in 2017 when one of our main funders failed to meet their contractual obligations. Since then, we have been actively finding alternatives to settle our debt, and we managed to pay almost all participants from the period in question. We organized another festival in 2018 that has been a transition year for us, and now, with a new team at our helm, we are ready to take the festival to the next level in 2019. Our negative experiences have taught us that enthusiasm without strict money management is not enough, so we have a particular focus on this area of the organization, as we are committed to consistently uphold the principles of overall improvement and sound business practice in the future.
As for the claim that we had a habit of not paying participants throughout the years, it is simply not true. We had some trouble with late payments, but nothing on the scale of problems that we had with Resonate '17. So we are saddened that Thomas Ankersmit and people behind the page "Still Unpaid At Resonate Festival" decided to interpret our explanations as deceit. We hope that in the future we can establish much more cooperative communication.