LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – LITFest, the music and event festival planned for spots throughout Little Rock this weekend, was officially canceled Tuesday.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. issued a statement just before 3:30 p.m. calling the event off but saying that he hopes to see it “move forward in the future.”
“My vision for LITFest was to celebrate the best of Little Rock through a diverse and inclusive festival featuring music, the arts, food and informative panels – to unite the City with this unique event while supporting local, economic and cultural development of our City,” the statement read. “While LITFest is now canceled for this weekend, it is my desire to see it move forward in the future.”
The announcement came after questions about the city’s arrangement with the contracted event organizer, Think Rubix. The city terminated its contract with Think Rubix on Monday in a letter signed by City Manager Bruce T. Moore, citing contract violations.
“Throughout this process, both Think Rubix and the City have acted legally and within the normal bounds of contracting and procurement,” Scott stated. “Think Rubix is a reputable company with a strong background in event planning and management, and, despite heavy scrutiny, it had been implementing plans for LITFest on behalf of the City since the contract took effect June 9.”
Scott’s statement also indicated concern with city attorney Tom Carpenter.
“However, this contract for LITFest, which was prepared by the City Attorney’s Office, was not optimized for the scale and scope of this music festival,” Scott stated.
Carpenter said on Sept. 29 that he had found “hundreds” of deleted LITFest-related documents on a city computer Sept. 23, including contract arrangements with Think Rubix. His office had been charged with overseeing public record requests in August.
Scott issued a statement at the time calling Carpenter’s statement “unsubstantiated allegations.”
A Little Rock blogger had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for LITFest documents on Sept. 9. The blogger, attorney Matt Campbell, was quoted saying he felt documents were missing from the packet he received.
A statement from Think Rubix released earlier Tuesday afternoon on behalf of managing principal Tristan Wilkerson stated the organization did not have the authority to cancel or postpone the event and that the firm had “received no compensation from the City of Little Rock as part of this contract.”
The Think Rubix statement acknowledged a fiscal sponsor for LITFest had been secured, but it had not “received any compensation from the sponsorship funds.”
It has asked the city where to direct any remaining sponsorship funds, Think Rubix stated.
Little Rock Vice Mayor Lance Hines called for an outside investigation of LITFest Monday night after the city’s Board of Directors meeting, approximately eight hours after Moore’s letter. It was reported at the time that the city did not know if the festival would take place.
Reportedly, refunds were being issued Tuesday night to those who had paid deposits.