Evermore music event organizer says festival insolvent

The organizer for the Evermore Music Festival is telling vendors and bands that his business is insolvent and does not have enough money to fully pay them for their work on the inaugural event, which fell far short of attendance projections.

Evermore was a three-day concert event that took place Sept. 30-Oct. 2 downtown on the lawn of the American Legion Mall. It featured headliners Guster, Atlas Genius and Prismo and more than 30 local and regional performers.

The show was produced by Indianapolis-based Rift LLC. Rift’s CEO is Nick White, a former executive producer at WTTV-TV Channel 4 and WXIN-TV Channel 59. His business partner is Zach Morris. The organizers planned to make the festival an annual event.

According to an email obtained by IBJ and dated Friday, White told a business that provided staging for the festival that his company was capable of paying less than a third of an $18,500 debt.

The email said the business is “facing bankruptcy or closure.”

“We are able to offer you exactly 31.2% of the remaining balance which is $5,772 as a settlement,’ the email says. “This offer is genuinely the best we can offer right now based on our outstanding debts versus cash as a company. We are offering this percentage to all debts, including those with no deposit. If you are not satisfied with the settlement, we can offer you a payment of 10% now with an attempt at monthly payments for as long as our company can sustain.”

Nik Roberts, one of the email’s recipients, said he and business partner, Chris White, provided the staging, lighting and sound for two of the festival’s three stages. He said they agreed that Evermore could pay them $7,000 up front, with the remaining $18,500 payable after the event.

“We took $7,000 down on a $25,500 contract. We shouldn’t have done that,” Roberts said.

When Nick White began making plans for the festival earlier this year, he envisioned drawing about 20,000 music lovers. But according to stories from The Indianapolis Star and WTTV-TV Channel 4, the festival drew no more than 1,000 people during its three-day run.

White told WTTV that he owed money to “the majority” of the bands who played at Evermore and was also making them the same 31-percent settlement offer. He said he needed about $25,000 to make good on the festival debts, WTTV reported.

In the e-mail, White said rainy weather during the first two days of the festival was the main cause of an “extremely low turnout.”

“Our company was prepared to take a loss for this first year, but that deficit is greater than expected. … Unfortunately with the lack of attendance and missing revenue our company is currently insolvent,” the email reads.

Festival tickets cost $24 for the first day of the festival. That price rose to $35 for Saturday and Sunday’s lineups.

In August, White told IBJ that the festival would have to sell 6,000 tickets at the $24 price point in order to break even. But White later told local media that the break-even number would be 2,500.

Roberts said from his observations, the festival’s three-day attendance was only about 500 people. The festival had “a lot of potential” but was poorly promoted, Roberts said.

Roberts said Nick White called him last week saying the festival didn’t have enough money to pay in full, but he was hoping to find an investor or secure a loan to cover the difference.

Then, Roberts said, on Friday he got the email with the settlement offer. Now, Roberts said, he’s in a bind and can’t pay the people he hired to help with the gig.

“If [Evermore] felt like they couldn’t pay us, they shouldn’t have hired us,” Roberts said.

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