Bumbershoot 2014
  • Kelly O
  • Bumbershoot 2014

Rumors have been kicking around for months that One Reel, which produces the Bumbershoot music and arts festival, is in serious trouble. In September, it announced layoffs—of both seasonal and full-time employees—and an unspecified shortfall. (The nonprofit's tax records show a slide of net assets from $5.3 million in 2009 to -$1.3 million in 2012.) And there has been vague, off-the-record talk about One Reel potentially needing a producing partner to keep Bumbershoot alive.

One Reel executive director Jon Stone says there will be news in the nearish future but nothing to announce yet.

Meanwhile, some stagehands are complaining that they haven't been paid for last year's festival. "I, along with a great deal of others, are still waiting for paychecks from One Reel," grip Johnny Rae wrote in an e-mail. "Which is well beyond 30 days out." Rae is a contract worker for IATSE local 15, the stagehands' and projectionists' union, which is still waiting for Bumbershoot to pay off 48 of its members who worked on the 2014 festival.

"I have left message after message and even gone to their office several times, to no avail," Rae wrote. "I will be visiting the Department of Labor this week to file a grievance."

Mylor Treneer, a business agent for local 15, says this delay in payment is unprecedented in local 15's 40-plus year relationship with One Reel. "This is a pretty severe setback," he said. "We are prepared to take legal action, but have not at this time." He said One Reel has been in regular contact with the union, which believes "they are working diligently to meet their obligations for 2014."

A Reddit thread from a couple of days ago ventured some opinions about what's going on—and floated the possibility of One Reel needing a partner to keep Bumbershoot going—but executive director Jon Stone says it's full of inaccuracies. "That thread, while good for a chuckle, is so far off base it's ridiculous," he said. "It's a lot of white noise."

User "P0x26A," for example, ominously writes: "just noticed the other day that the One Reel office on King St is empty and available for lease." Stone says they moved out of those offices in 2010. Another user, "yutfree," said early-bird tickets were supposed to be available by October but that never happened. "If you look, you'll see we've never had a duplicate ticket-sales program two years in a row," Stone replied. "We're constantly changing when they go on sale, the different price points, single-day or multiple-day sales. It used to be we never put anything on sale until March at the earliest."

Stone did not refute the Reddit claims that their social media sites are unresponsive these days. "As you know, we laid off some seasonal staff early and cut back on staffing," he said. "So I grant you we're not as active on our social media."

And what about the big question—that One Reel needs a producing partner to keep Bumbershoot going?

"I can't comment on that," Stone said.

This post has been updated since it was first published.