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New World F.E.S.T. Organizer Baffled by Event Collapse  

As of September 1, 2011, ALL 1,875 retail establishments are prohibited from providing light-weight, single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale. MORE

By Melonie Magruder
Lookout Staff

October 12, 2011 -- New World F.E.S.T. event organizer Howard Mauskopf spoke to The Lookout Tuesday, offering a baffled and deeply concerned analysis of just what went wrong last weekend.

The festival of sustainability on Santa Monica's beaches was abruptly shut down midday Saturday, a day and a half before its scheduled close.

“The bottom line is I must bear responsibility for what happened,” said Mauskopf. “We thought we had built a beautiful event and marketed it appropriately. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, of course, but apparently some of our expectations for the weekend were way off.”

Several problems during the week leading up to the event conspired to dampen cash flow, he said. And though he demurred on official tallies, Mauskopf acknowledged attendance was “very light,” despite an aggressive campaign of flyer distribution throughout the Westside, deep social networking and advertising.

Organizers also had higher expectations for attendance based on the high numbers of unique visitors to the festival’s lively website.

“In the last week alone, we had thousands of hits,” Mauskopf said. He speculated that even a modest entry fee of $12 might have been prohibitive for people during tough economic times.

While organizers struggle to mop up, Mauskopf said that his first responsibility is to reimburse vendors who had collected food coupons from customers and reimburse ticket holders planning on coming Sunday.

“We are also committed to other forms of compensation for lost revenue to vendors for their fees and so forth,” Mauskopf said. “We’re not hiding from that issue at all and it is our intent to do the right thing.”

Beyond the financial problem inherent in the eco-friendly festival’s failure, Mauskopf regrets that the public was unable to experience some of the “outstanding talent and expertise we had lined up.”

“We hope to fix this financial shortfall going forward and try again,” Mauskopf said. “Because, really, climate change is something everyone will deal with in the future and the more we know and are prepared, the better.”

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