Things have gone from bad to worse for Peats Ridge Festival director Matt Grant – the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) are now being called upon by the MEAA to intervene in the festival’s liquidation proceedings after Grant’s plans to visit France were deemed as a possible attempt to flee the country and dodge paying back nearly $1 million in debt.
According to the MEAA, Grant will be heading to France and “may be leaving Australia within days”, instilling a feeling of “grave doubt” that creditors will ever see their money again. In a statement posted to the Alliance’s website, the group says it is ‘disturbed’ by the lack of interest in the case on ASIC’s part, stating that “it appears that the Commission is not satisfied the matter is of sufficient scale to warrant the exercise of its powers”. The MEAA also once again calls for the regulator and Grant to live up to their responsibilities:
“It is high time our regulator took decisive action and those ultimately responsible for the management of the festival’s finances give commitments that they will face their debtors and cooperate to ensure debts are settled quickly and fairly. Our advice to date suggests we have good reason to be concerned this may not occur.”
In a statment to Arts Hub, Grant claims he will be visiting France for business and to visit his wife but plans to return within the month:
“The liquidator of Peats Ridge (Worrells) has been aware of this since the first meeting. I have completely assisted and will continue to assist the liquidator. I have supplied all books and records, any insinuation that I am not returning to Australia is ridiculous.”
The festival has been struggling to get both feet firmly on the ground since 2007 when the event was cancelled due to excessive rain. According to Grant, the festival’s insurer only paid up a full year later, delivering a sum that was $650,000 less than the agreed total. The years after recorded very little improvement. By 2008, attendance had shrunk by 50%. Come 2012, the festival needed a 25% increase in ticket sales in order to keep their heads above water. This was not achieved and this detail wasn’t explained to many of the creditors.
For now, Peats Ridge is in the stable hands of Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accountants, who now have the difficult task of saving the good name of our most beloved festivals. The MEAA have vowed to keep pressuring ASIC to secure them as agents of some form of mediation.