I sent a copy of Tom Dimmick’s latest statement to Taunya Stapp for comment. What follows is her reply. I also inserted a specific question about Summer Arts at the end…
First, we’d like to clarify that the Mateel Board never initially asked to sell the event. We are being forced into the situation of considering selling the event by the actions of the private parties involved.
The Board was looking into licensing options after 2005 failed to deliver. It is part of our mission program (to fulfill diversity) plus as our largest asset the decision should go to the membership for a vote. We never discussed selling the event.
We found that licensing wasn’t that easy over a long term — that some entity so inclined could easily jump the event [take over the trademark] after three years. Some of the earlier activities of People Productions showed they had already been working this idea, whether purposeful or not.
Therefore we were left with the option of a short term very controlled license, or creating a production contract with a company responsive to our needs and accountable. Selling the event was not considered a viable option to fix the relationship with People Productions.
As our original statement back in December mentioned, the board, after much debate, decided to license the event for one year so that the Mateel community could come together and decide the long term future of this event. Our press release announcing the termination of the production contract (December 28, 2006) had this statement at the very beginning:
“The MCC board feels that a short term licensing of the event is the best course of action. This will protect our intellectual property that is Reggae on the River and give us time to gather community input on the direction of the show.”
Long term contracts with People Productions have never worked well even though they provided operational funds. We took the crisis People Productions created this year and decided to change things into a positive future for the Mateel.
People Productions, in my opinion, has been very good at crafting moments of dire crisis for the Mateel. These events suck all the lifeblood from the organization until solved to People Productions’ satisfaction. Arguably, any time the Mateel has tried to do something, ask for something, or to diversify its income model in a way that did not meet the needs of People Productions, this same type of crisis event has cropped up. This is an ongoing cycle easily identified throughout the boards and management groups that have been at the Mateel.
This year we chose to stop that crisis cycle in the Mateel by using the opportunity of having to cancel their contract to call for a year of long term planning for the Center. This would allow us together, as a community, to decide what future of Reggae on the River would best suit the Center’s needs. We could brainstorm, look at options, research those options, and make a normal business decision on our direction.
We are not sure what “offer” Tom Dimmick is referring to at this point. We had two demand letters from Mr. Dimmick received before the contract with People Productions was terminated. One suggested he receive two years for free. We have also heard from a third party about a “suggested offer” and believe this to be what Mr. Dimmick is referring to in his Open Letter.
This offer left the Mateel out in the cold for the first year; had the Mateel turning over its permit to Dimmick (because he doesn’t have a permit to do Reggae Rising) and had him attempting to get another one for Mateel the following year. It also states that Mr. Dimmick will do multiple events on his property by subcontracting to Dansun Productions and People Productions. The Board of the Mateel have repeatedly stated they will not work with People Productions again. That discussion/offer also included excluding nonprofit food booths from our show.
Additionally we have stated we will not enter into a long term contract offer with any of the private parties, and that they will need to find financing up front considering what we know of their long term plans. Finally, if Mr. Dimmick is asking for a license, there are more money issues involved that just a per year fee. Again, it makes us very nervous to sign a ten year contract when we have been made aware of Mr. Dimmick’s long term plans. We have equipment, infrastructure, lost value to our trademark from the confusion Reggae Rising has created and Mr. Dimmick has promoted, our permit, the value of the lease agreement as well — all need to be considered should we consider any arrangement. Then we also have our membership to consult as well.
I keep hearing that Summer Arts might actually be on Dimmick Ranch, which, for various reasons, including permit requirments, seems like something very complicated to do. Is the Mateel considering that?
No, the Mateel is not seriously considering moving Summer Arts. Summer Arts will be at Benbow again this year.