George Lepauw has cancelled the 2014 International Beethoven Project Festival
  • International Beethoven Project/Albert J. Kim
  • George Lepauw has canceled the 2014 Beethoven Festival.

The troubled International Beethoven Festival has been officially canceled. On August 29, just a week before the ambitious multivenue event was to begin, founder George Lepauw announced that it would be replaced with a season-long fund-raising effort called Unfestival: Walkabout.

The festival, which would’ve been in its fourth year, was facing stiff criticism for forging ahead with a new season while it still owed money to musicians (and venues) for last year’s fest.

According to the announcement, the first Unfestival: Walkabout event will be held at 5 PM on September 7 at Open Secret Studios.

As for people who already have tickets: “Further information on current Beethoven Festival pass holders will follow shortly.”

Here’s the full text of Lepauw’s announcement:

Dear Friends of the International Beethoven Project and Beethoven Festival,

With a heavy heart, I am announcing the cancellation of the planned 4th annual Beethoven Festival: WALKABOUT 2014, which was to occur September 5-21 throughout Chicago’s many neighborhoods. In its place, we are announcing UNFESTIVAL: WALKABOUT, a season-long campaign dedicated to fundraising through community engagement.

The reasons for the cancellation and change of course are due to the fact that we are still struggling with debt acquired producing last year’s festival, and which we hoped would be resolved by now. To our generous supporters who looked forward to this year’s festival, we are apologetic and deeply saddened. But we have not abandoned the fight.

Using an online crowd-funding platform (soon to be unveiled) and hosting both public and private events throughout the season, we are charging forward to undertake a major fundraising campaign to repay our debts and build a foundation for the future.

On Sunday, September 7 from 5 PM to midnight, plan to be at Open Secret Studios, 401 N. Racine in the West Loop, to kickstart this campaign with a very special salon evening. Musicians from Germany, the East Coast, and Chicago are coming together and donating their fees in support of all artists owed from last year, and because they believe in the future of IBP. Delicious Moroccan cuisine will also be available for you to enjoy.

Other fundraising events are currently scheduled for September 8, 14, 16, and 21, and we hope you will attend as many as possible. Please alert your friends as well, through any means, and help us fill these events!

Precise details on each fundraiser as well as on our crowd-funding platform will be sent to you in the coming days, so please stay tuned. Further information on current Beethoven Festival pass holders will follow shortly.

UNFESTIVAL: WALKABOUT is a name that suits our challenges especially well. Its Australian Aboriginal meaning refers to the journey through the wilderness embarked upon by teenagers as a rite of passage to adulthood. For Beethoven, long solitary walks helped him find the courage and the inspiration to rise above his own challenges. For IBP, with your help, this journey will serve as our rite of passage to long-term success.

IBP is an umbrella organization called by its mission to include more than just Beethoven Festival: special events, exhibitions, concerts, the production of films and recordings, educational programs, are integral to our goals to educate and engage new and diverse audiences.

We are so fortunate to have the participation of world-class volunteer musicians, donated venues, and businesses all donating their fees or providing in-kind services, to help us honor our past commitments as soon as possible and to celebrate our vision.

Projects in Arts and Culture are difficult to bring to life, and while our present predicament is very hard, it is far from exceptional. Cultural institutions the world over are struggling with budget shortfalls, and many have gone bankrupt. Now that we too are suffering, it is especially clear to us that a new and vigorous conversation to find better solutions is urgent in an effort to establish a better cultural future for all.

We need your help more than ever. Please continue this journey — and help us see it through.

With gratitude and hope,
George Lepauw
President and Artistic Director
International Beethoven Project