Two weeks after announcing that the KahBang music and arts festival would be moving from Bangor to Portland this summer, organizers canceled the music portion of the event because of a lack of sponsors.
A slate of more than 30 performances scheduled for three Portland venues was wiped out, including shows by KahBang headliners St. Vincent and DMX at the State Theatre on Aug. 8.
KahBang director Joshua Gass said the main reason for canceling the music shows is the loss of festival sponsors over the past few weeks. Volunteers created KahBang in Bangor six years ago, and most of the festival’s backers are located in that area.
Sponsorship money pays for the artists and the production costs, Gass said.
In an email sent to festival patrons and fans, Gass said he and other volunteers “made every effort to find alternative solutions” that would allow this year’s KahBang to go on as planned.
“We are sorry to our fans for letting them down, but we just don¹t have the ability to maintain our vision for the event for this year,” Gass wrote. “No one is more saddened and apologetic at this development than we are.”
Other scheduled portions of KahBang, including the Art Fest and Film Fest, are on course and will be held in Portland on the previously announced dates, Aug. 7 through 10, Gass said. Music, however, was arguably KahBang’s biggest draw.
Canceling the performances means that two of Portland’s best-known music venues, the State Theatre and Port City Music Hall, will lose three big shows. The State Theatre had been scheduled to host St. Vincent, DMX and seven other acts on Aug. 8, while Port City Music Hall was to host nine acts on Aug. 9 and another 10 acts on Aug. 10.
Lauren Wayne, who manages both venues, said Thursday that neither will lose money because of the cancellations. She said her first reaction to the news was to be “really saddened” for KahBang’s organizers.
“We would have loved to serve as the venues for KahBang, but we totally understand. It’s hard enough to run a nonprofit organization, nevermind a nonprofit festival,” Wayne said.
Ticket holders will be automatically refunded, and they also can contact the State Theatre with questions, she said. People who bought tickets through Ticketmaster can go to its website for refunds, Gass said, and people with questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of the acts that had been scheduled to perform at a Hip Hop Showcase at the Big Easy on Aug. 9 may play other shows in downtown Portland instead, he said, noting that information about those shows would be on kahbang.com in a day or two.
The Art Fest portion of KahBang, which is free, will be held Aug. 8 and 9 at Community Television Network studios on Congress Street and will feature the work of about 10 artists from around the country, said Meg Shorette, the Art Fest coordinator.
A list of artists is on the KahBang website, along with a list of the participating art galleries.
The Film Fest portion of KahBang, also run by Shorette, will feature about 30 films to be shown at One Longfellow Square on State Street over all four days of KahBang’s originally scheduled dates.
KahBang organizers had announced in mid-July that they were moving the festival from Bangor after five years because they could not arrange for an area where festival patrons could camp. They said lodging would not be an issue if the festival were in Portland, with some camping available in Scarborough.
Calls to KahBang’s top three sponsors, all based in the Bangor area, were not returned Thursday.
KahBang organizers will “definitely try to regroup” and hold the festival again in the future, Gass said.
Maine-based rapper Spose, whose real name is Ryan Peters, had been scheduled to play KahBang in Bangor. He dropped out when the festival moved to Portland because he had too many Portland-area gigs already scheduled. Peters hopes that by canceling this year, organizers might avoid financial losses that would undermine the music festival in the future.
“I hope they can regroup, because I think there’s room for a festival like KahBang in Portland,” he said.
Portland city officials, while not directly involved in this year’s festival, hope KahBang or an event like it will bring music to the city in the future.
“Something like this would attract people locally, as well as regionally, which is certainly a good thing for the city,” said Jessica Grondin, Portland’s director of communications.
Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: