Festival collapse is no laughing matter

Bob Carruthers says 'everything we were asked to deliver, we delivered'
Bob Carruthers says 'everything we were asked to deliver, we delivered'

KIRKCALDY’S comedy festival has collapsed in chaos.

The plug was pulled on the month-long event by Kirkcaldy4All on Friday - only for organiser Bob Carruthers to hit back and attempt to piece it back together show by show.

The contractual dispute between the two sparked claim and counter-claim, but the bottom line is comedy fans hoping to see stars such as Josie Long, Henning Wehn, Patrick Monahan and Brian Blessed will be left disappointed.

All the shows are off.

Mr Carruthers, whose company Kreative Destiny was commissioned to deliver the festival in his home town, said: ‘‘It’s my mess and I will sort it out.’’

But bar a few stand-alone events, the festival is dead in the water.

The official website remains down.

There is no information on any local ticket outlet.

And the leading venue, Society, has already deleted all promotional information from its Facebook page.

It was due to host Patrick Monahan last night (Wednesday) and a Madness tribute act on Friday with a string of headliners booked in for next weekend.

The festival was effectively ended at the weekend by the BID company’s announcement it would not take over the running of the show.

In a statement, it said Kreative Destiny had advised that it ‘‘was unable to deliver the remainder of the comedy festival.’’

Disappointment

The Press understands the BID’s executive board members looked at the costs involved, and decided it could not take over at the midway point.

Its statement, issued late on Friday afternoon expressed its disappointment, thanked local sponsors and confirmed all shows from last Monday onwards were cancelled.

Kirkcaldy4All honoured the weekend performances - by the time of the announcement the cast of Vive Le Cabaret were already travelling north to play at Society - but it meant the last two weeks of shows are off.

The Press broke the story online at www.fifetoday.co.uk on Friday evening and it was quickly shared through social media, reaching performers, agents and fans alike.

Down south in Warwickshire, Mr Carruthers fought back.

On Monday he started restoring what he could, show by show, underlining his equally direct message - the festival was not cancelled.

Politicians also weighed in with their concerns - one talked of Kirkcaldy’s reputation being damaged - and comedy fans and locals were left wondering if the shows they’d bought tickets to see would ever materialise.

Mired in loose ends

Paperwork was also released to the media detailing proposed financial settlements involving four-figure sums of money - and in doing so shone light on to a clear contractual dispute between the two main players, Kirkcaldy4All and Kreative Destiny, one mired with loose ends, claims and counter-claims

A statement issued by Kirkcaldy4All, said: ‘‘Kreative Destiny has advised Kirkcaldy4All that they are unable to deliver the remainder of the comedy festival.

‘‘We commissioned Kreative Destiny to create, promote and deliver a bigger and better festival. We are very disappointed to receive this news.

‘‘Sponsorship has been received from local businesses, some of whom sponsored or hosted events, and Kirkcaldy4All would like to thank them all.’’

However, Mr Carruthers said the BID company had agreed to take over and released paperwork which he claimed showed it was liable for £12,000 running costs - a figure the BID company strongly disputes.

‘‘Everything we were supposed to deliver we have delivered,’’ he said.

‘‘We organised 22 great events for them.

‘‘I have been working on this since July when they were let down.

‘‘We picked it up and put together a brilliant festival.

‘‘I used my personal contacts book to put the thing on at short notice, and it is just outrageous the way we have been treated.

‘‘If you come to Kirkcaldy to do something this is what you get?’’

Mr Carruthers also said he was now taking over once again at the helm of Kreative Destiny - the company he set up in June with the help of £10,000 of funding from Kirkcaldy4All and Fife Council to be a social enterprise which would develop jobs and lead on a range of new projects for the benefit of the town.

Resigned

He had resigned on August 6, and was replaced by Claire Gambold from Warwickshire, but he continued to sign contracts with acts and venues on behalf of the company in the countdown to the comedy festival.

On Monday he said he was now taking the company back after Ms Gambold had resigned and he had lodged paperwork at Companies House to become its sole director once more.

‘‘The aim was to find an MD in Kirkcaldy to run the company. It was never the ‘Bob Carruthers Company.’

‘‘It was never intended that I do it.’’

Mr Carruthers pledged no-one who had bought a ticket would be left out of pocket.

On Monday he said he would either re-instate the show, offer an alternative gig, or give people their money back, and on Tuesday he issued a contact address in Stockport for all refund claims.