Yesterday, the popular Southern California art collective, Do LaB, announced an update to their recent message that refunds would not be made available following the cancellation of their 2020 event, Lightning in a Bottle Art & Music Festival (LIB), which was scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend in Kern County. Their original announcement alluded to a goal to make fans "whole" but fell short of offering a timeline. Details were scant, and fans grew worried. Some even filed a lawsuit against the Do LaB when the anxiety set in.
In hindsight it's clear, the announcement was bound to garner questions as well as a few concerns, but at the time it probably seemed like some information would be better than none. As a result, they explained what they could, and now they're sharing some additional bits. As additional details become available, the situation offers a window into the unprecedented challenges facing independent music industry professionals in COVID-19-era America.
Even Leslie Knope wouldn't have had a binder to navigate a festival through a pandemic like this one. Upon finding themselves on the receiving end of some impassioned fan feedback, Do LaB digested it and returned to the table to unpack a plan to make it up to fans. For anyone who want refunds, they've created a process for those too. It just may take a bit of added patience while Do LaB pools resources to pay ticket purchasers back.
Fans who bought tickets to LIB 2020 now have three options:
The sobering letter asked that 2020 event ticket-holders seeking refunds exercise patience with a committed (albeit slow) reimbursement process. Alternatively, fans can accept an upgraded VIP ticket to Lightning in a Bottle in 2021 or 2022. For the small, family-run event, it's a challenging situation. However, if a plan is the first step to achieving a goal, it appears the beloved icon of "transformational" festival experiences may yet weather the storm. For those who would like to rally in solidarity with its organizers or for those who simply want to help, the event is also accepting funds spent on admissions as donations so that LIB can bounce back sooner.
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As a testament to the impact this event has had on people's lives, several are standing by Do LaB in a thread on Reddit, where fans are gladly donating their dollars to see the collective back in action in 2021.
Some are even sharing their favorite LIB memories.
"The festival industry is in a time of crisis, Do LaB explained in the email sent out to fans. "Many great independent companies will go out of business and cherished festivals and events will disappear."
It's a sad thought to imagine which festivals will become extinct as a result of the ongoing public struggle with COVID-19, but with a little luck and the support of its tenacious community, Lightning in a Bottle won't be among them.