The fate of the upcoming 50th anniversary edition of the famed Woodstock festival is now up in the air.

Following a controversial line-up announcement featuring headliners like Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, The Killers, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper and more, a pair of contradicting statements about the festival's potential cancellation arose in late April. Dentsu, a Tokyo-based agency network and former investor of the festival, came forward claiming that the festival was cancelled, which was quickly followed up by a statement from organizers of the show stating that the festival would continue on as planned. Following Dentsu's original announcement, Woodstock's intended production partner Superfly also pulled out of the event.

The story continues to unfold with the latest statement coming from festival founder Michael Lang, who has drafted a lengthy letter addressing the tumultuous journey of the festival's announcements so far. Most notably, according to Rolling Stone, he has claimed that Dentsu has "illegally swept approximately $17 million from the festival bank account, leaving [Woodstock] in peril".

Lang goes on to claim that after originally believing Dentsu to be "an ethical and honorable firm to partner with" that the company blocked ticket sales for the event "for no apparent reason" after receiving conditional approval from the state of New York.

Continuing to outline arising problems with Dentsu, Lang explains that he began to "question the cash flow since Dentsu had not been successful in selling sponsorships for the Woodstock Festival". He also addressed the confusion around the late April statements about the festival's cancellation, claiming that Dentsu advised that they were to "take control of the festival" despite Lang's disagreements and went on to speak with the press without notice.

"While we were on a call together as a group at 12:00 EDT, the media had already begun reporting that Woodstock was canceled,” he wrote. “I then learned that Amplifi (an investment arm of Dentsu) illegally swept approximately $17 million from the festival bank account, leaving the festival in peril."

Further, Lang claims that Dentsu reached out directly to stakeholders, insurance companies, vendors and performers to advise them not to work with Lang, even going so far as to advise certain talent to pull out of the festival and appeal for a booking at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which Dentsu organizes events for.

Lang concludes by reinforcing the notion that Woodstock 50 is not cancelled and will move forward as planned. “We would only ask that you honor the law and your obligations, stop interfering with our efforts to put on this wonderful event and return the $17 million you improperly took,” he writes, directly speaking to Dentsu in his letter. “It is one thing if your company, Dentsu, wanted to back out of its commitment to Woodstock because it would not make as much money as it had hoped, but to try to suffocate and kill Woodstock so that we could not have a festival for our Golden Anniversary without you is puzzling for any company, let alone one that claims reform.”

Dentsu has issued a statement in response to Lang. "As financial partner, we had the customary rights one would expect to protect a large investment. After we exercised our contractual right to take over, and subsequently, cancel the festival, we simply recovered the funds in the festival bank account, funds which we originally put in as financial partner. Further, tickets cannot go on sale for an event prior to obtaining a mass gathering permit, which has still not been granted. Beyond that, we stand by original statement made last week.”


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