'I was shocked like everyone else': Roxodus co-creator breaks silence
"At no time did I ever think that this was not going to move ahead. I was shocked like everyone else."
Mike Dunphy breaks his silence after the demise of the Roxodus music festival.
Dunphy and long-time friend Fab Loranger created MF Live Inc., the company behind the festival that promised to be the concert of the summer.
Just days before bands were meant to take the stage on July 11th, organizers pulled the plug to the disappointment of thousands of ticket holders.
"I think what went wrong was a big idea that didn't come to fruition. Ticket sales didn't get to where we wanted them to be, all the cost to get the grounds ready to go, at the end of the day ticket sales didn't come in as we thought," says Dunphy. Before the cancellation, he told reporters that more than 20,000 tickets had been sold for the event. Organizers had initially hoped to bring in close to 40,000 fans.
Dunphy denies allegations that he ever signed a single cheque or made any withdrawals from the festival's coffers. "I didn't take any of that money. I didn't have access to any of that money."
Dunphy says he parted ways with his business partner and childhood friend, Loranger, 10 days before Roxodus was abruptly cancelled. "We are not talking to each other. It's unfortunate, we've known each other all our lives."
He tells CTV News the pair had very different roles in bringing the festival to life. "Fab would handle all the banking, all the contracts, all the finances. My job was to secure the bands, get them signed off, make sure the grounds were ready to go, stakeholders, and any of the operational issues that we would need to go to get the festival actually ready to go in the field."
Dunphy pegs the expenditures of the event at around $18 million, about $10 million of which was paid up front to performers, and $2.2 million for land acquisition.
In a statement on July 3rd, Loranger blamed heavy rain over the spring for the cancellation, claiming that the grounds were just too saturated to accommodate the festival. Dunphy says otherwise. "I was putting fence up until June 24th. In my opinion, the festival grounds would have been ready to go."
Instead, he blames the cancelled event on not enough public interest. "I truly believe that the failure of this festival is the lack of ticket sales."
Alan Cross, who was due to emcee the outdoor concert, worked with the duo for months and says things were running smoothly - until they weren't. "I worked with these guys from November forward, and up until June 13th, I saw no red flags. These guys were doing everything right. They ticked all the boxes. Any time I did some work for them and filed an invoice, I was paid almost immediately, so I was as surprised as everybody else when this did not happen. It was a real shock." Cross says after June 13th any attempts to contact Dunphy or Loranger were unsuccessful.
He says before the silence, he dealt mainly with Dunphy on all aspects. "I was always dealing with Mike. If it came to invoices, they went to Fab, and Fab was the one that paid them."
CTV News contacted OPP Const. Martin Hachey about the police investigation that was launched late last month. He would only tell CTV News that a former employee of MF Live Inc. has been under investigation, saying, "I cannot comment on the nature of the investigation, and I am not aware if the investigation has anything to do with the cancellation of the Roxodus Music Festival."
Dunphy tells CTV News he has no information about the investigation, and says he has not been questioned or contacted by police.
CTV News also reached out to Fab Loranger for comment, several calls and emails were not returned.
Eventbrite, the online retailer that sold passes for the festival, posted to the Roxodus website regarding ticket refunds, writing, "After multiple attempts to communicate and secure funds back from the Roxodus organizers, they have provided no indication that they will be issuing refunds to ticket holders. We believe attendees deserve to get their money back now, so we have set up an Eventbrite-funded Fan Relief Program to make all Roxodus ticket holders whole while we continue to aggressively pursue the return of funds from the festival's creators."
Anyone who purchased tickets to Roxodus through Eventbrite will have their money automatically transferred back to their credit card, says the website.
The online retailer says it will be pursuing money from MF Live Inc.
- With files from CTV Barrie's Beatrice Vaisman