Help Locals Hurt By Fyre Festival


As many of you know, this April I worked for Fyre Festival. And as you probably heard, the music festival, which was to take place on the Bahamian island of Exuma, was cancelled soon after it began.

I was originally connected to the festival through a friend who, like me, is a freelancer. I was not a company employee but was only brought on to help with local staffing. I have a background in film festivals, so I took on a small role of finding and hiring local Bahamians to help with festival set up and other basic tasks.

As a freelancer, I was not privy to how the other parts of the festival were being managed so I can only speak to my particular responsibility. But when I arrived, I quickly discovered that the festival's production was severely behind schedule. Despite the concerns many of us had, we were told the festival was proceeding as planned.

Given I had made a commitment, I tried to make the best out of the situation. There were other freelancers in positions similar to mine, and we all agreed that we would do the best we could with our respective tasks and, with a combined effort, try to make the festival work.

I moved forward and recruited roughly 80 local Bahamians to help with the festival. They, like me, assumed their help was needed during the entirety of the festival, which was to run for two consecutive weekends. We made a schedule, I hired a payroll company, and proceeded with hiring.

On the first day of the festival, everyone pitched in to try and make it work. Despite it not being their responsibility, the Bahamian workers made beds, picked up trash and repaired tents. They did whatever was asked of them.

When the festival was cancelled early the following day, I became very worried. I immediately asked a senior manager who was responsible for paying staff if they were going to honor their commitment to paying the Bahamian staff. I was told to gather all the records and documents and was assured that everyone would indeed be paid.

As soon as I arrived back in the US, I sent the payroll documents and records to management as instructed. However over the past couple months, despite many attempts, I have not heard anything from the festival organizers and my messages have not been returned.

In the meantime, I have been inundated with texts and phone calls from the local Bahamians seeking payment. Many are parents who are asking for their wages on behalf of their children. It upsets me not to be able to give them the assurance that they will receive what they are owed. Exuma is not a particularly wealthy island. While the total amount owed is small compared to the overall festival budget, these funds are important and needed by the people I hired. They are depending upon this money for basic necessities and deserve to be paid. These folks worked tirelessly and without complaint, doing tasks beyond their original responsibilities.

Although I had no control over the situation, I feel obligated to make amends to the people I hired and made commitments to. I gave my word and I hired them on the good faith that they would be paid for their work. There are many people who have not received what they are owed by Fyre Festival. While I wish I could help everyone, these are the individuals I feel responible for. I am organizing this GoFundMe campaign on behalf of this group of local Bahamians. Based upon the payroll records, the total amount owed is approximately $8,000.

Please understand my only intentention is to try and help in this situation. Even though I only worked with them for a few weeks, the local Bahamians I met were wonderful. They were kind, helpful and have been incredibly understanding. They deserve better.

I would very much appreciate your support with this effort to see these individuals receive what they're owed. My heartfelt thanks.

P.S. Given the anger and bitterness over the cancelling of the Fyre Festival, I am using a pseudonym because I am worried this campaign may be taken out of context. I'm concerned that anger may be directed at me. Thank you for understanding.


Elizabeth Frank
New York, NY

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