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Why Was This UCLA Festival Abruptly Canceled?

Public Enemy performing at the Sunset Strip Music Festival in 2011
Public Enemy performing at the Sunset Strip Music Festival in 2011
Timothy Norris

By Sarah Purkrabek

Earlier this week, an activist festival at UCLA set for Saturday and featuring Public Enemy, members of Wu-Tang Clan, and speakers including Dennis Kucinich, was suddenly canceled. Called United We Stand, it was to be held at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

Thousands of tickets had already been sold when the university abruptly pulled the plug, claiming that the organizers - called Free & Equal Elections Foundation - had missed a payment deadline for the venue. Organizers are looking to reschedule, and both sides blame the other.

In a statement to the Daily Bruin, UCLA Media Relations wrote that after the payment was not received by Monday, per their agreement, Free & Equal said the money would arrive by Tuesday at noon. When it was not received by that time, the statement continued, the festival was canceled. (Shortly thereafter, a different affair was relocated to Pauley in its place - an event for transfer students.)

Christina Tobin, the founder of Free & Equal, disputes this chronology of events. She says that the agreed-upon deadline for the $90,000 payment was actually 2 pm on Tuesday, and that the school received the money by 12:30 - an hour and a half early. 

She says that shortly thereafter she received an email from UCLA's Associate Director of Facility and Event Operations Rich Mylin, who announced that the administration had decided to cancel the festival, which aims to educate young voters through music and discussion of issues including foreign policy, election reform, and Internet freedom.

The group and the school quickly set to work relocating the event; Tobin says it has been moved outdoors to UCLA's Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, though neither UCLA Media Relations nor Mylin could confirm this. 

Wherever it ends up, it is still scheduled for tomorrow, May 10, from 4-10 pm, though it will now be free. Some of those who previously purchased tickets may have some trouble getting their money back, but are promised "priority entrance and seating."

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