Who is to blame for Toby Keith concert cancellation? Promoter, charity trade barbs.
The promoter and charity behind the canceled Freedom & Dignity Music Festival in Schaumburg gave differing accounts Thursday of the sudden demise of the planned Schaumburg charity concert featuring country music star Toby Keith as headliner.
An attorney for Winfield-based promoter Imagn Events said it's weighing legal action against the intended beneficiary of the charity concert -- the Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot Foundation -- for multiple breaches of contract.
But Dan Gibbons, founder and executive director of the 35-year-old foundation in Elmhurst, said the contract with Imagn was canceled due to the promoter's lack of transparency over the event's finances.
The cancellation appears to have surprised Keith as much as the fans who bought tickets to the show.
"We discovered the show was canceled like everybody else through the media," Keith's Twitter account posted Thursday.
Gibbons said plans for the concert quickly unraveled this week after the foundation and its veterans charity, Cafe Liberty, sought financial details from Imagn Events.
"What we wanted was financial accountability and we didn't get it," Gibbons said. "As the beneficiary, we think we had the right to know."
The concert was intended to raise money for Cafe Liberty, a Wheaton-based arm of the foundation that provides free culinary job training and placement for Chicago-area veterans in need.
Gibbons said his foundation expects to survive this major setback to its fundraising efforts, but it won't be able to open another Cafe Liberty location as quickly as it hoped.
Both sides Thursday placed full blame for the cancellation on the other.
Imagn Events sent an email to customers Thursday regarding ticket refunds.
"Due to the Dan Gibbons Turkey Trot's serious breaches of their obligations to the ticket holders, vendors and promoters, the Freedom and Dignity Festival is unfortunately canceled," the statement reads. "More information about refunds will come in the next 72 hours."
Gibbons said he takes offense at the way his foundation's role in the cancellation is being characterized.
"They're a startup company and we have a 35-year reputation," Gibbons said. "Their business is blowing up. They're trying to take us with them."
The foundation lost all confidence that those working on the festival would be paid, he added.
Because the foundation was not in a position to directly cancel the festival, it canceled its contract with Imagn Events instead, Gibbons said.
But before the plug was pulled, the foundation and the Schaumburg Boomers, which were to host the festival at their stadium, tried tirelessly to find a way to keep the concert afloat.
"The Boomers have been fantastic people to deal with," Gibbons said. "They're heartbroken and we're heartbroken."
The concert was to be the first event of its kind for the foundation.
"They came to us in late January to talk to us about a concert for veterans," Gibbons said of Imagn Events. "It sounded good to us."
Imagn Events issued a statement Thursday blasting back against the foundation for publicly releasing the name and cellphone number of a team member.
"DGTT has unfortunately doxxed one of our employees on social media and refuse to take it down out of spite. They have offered to take it down in exchange for monetary compensation. It's disgraceful," the statement reads.
Gibbons denied asking for money to take down the number, adding that it was the only public contact the foundation had for Imagn.
"It's a bad situation, Gibbons said. "Probably the best thing they could do is stop making it worse."