It’s unclear whether or not former Nakusp Music Fest directors may be personally liable for money owed to Revenue Canada.

Music Fest directors face uncertain fate

The directors, all volunteers, are finding they’re responsible for “non-resident revenue,” according to Revenue Canada.

“It’s been quite a learning curve,” said Tom Zeleznik, one of the seven former directors of the Nakusp Roots Music Society, the group responsible for putting on the Nakusp Music Fest. The directors, all volunteers, are finding they’re responsible for a whole lot more now that the Society has declared bankruptcy and Revenue Canada is seeking payment for “non-resident revenue.”

“You don’t know until things go topsy turvy,” added former president Donna Rebman, who is one of the directors who may be personally liable for the debt to the feds, one that is growing every day. Zeleznik estimates the debt is about $34,000, with five per cent interest compounded daily.

The directors have known they would have to declare bankruptcy since March, and since that time they’ve also been dealing with their insurance company trying to find out if they’re covered against Revenue Canada’s claim. So far, no word, and the interest owing continues to grow.

The decision to declare bankruptcy was a long and difficult one, said Rebman. The first step was to get help from the Columbia Basin Trust who hired KPMG as a consultant to assess whether or not the CBT should give the Society $100,000, which they pledged to pay back after their building sold. After looking at the package the directors had put together, they advised the Trust the $100-grand investment would be a good one, if the Society were debt-free, said   Rebman.

“Next we sent a letter to all our creditors to see if they would accept 40 cents on the dollar,” she said, and they were advised that this would be acceptable only if all creditors agreed. Unfortunately, some creditors refused and the board was left with only one option.

“It wasn’t the fact we didn’t try,” emphasized Rebman, who spent months working to save the festival. “At that point there was not really much to do except declare bankruptcy.”

Although she seemed stoic during the bankruptcy meeting, it was tough going for the former president.

“I was a mess,” she revealed, “I absolutely hated it. It’s people you see every day. It was easier in the fact that everyone took it so good. Everybody understands what it’s like.”

Now the Society’s assets are to be sold, including the building and a few other items that Rebman and Zeleznik hope continue to be used in the community like the sweeper and top dresser.

Although the lesson they’ve learned is a stressful one, with no end in sight at the moment, both Rebman and Zeleznik are still keen on volunteering and making things happen for Nakusp.

“I learned my lessons as a director,” said Zeleznik, who said he would do it again but would be more careful when looking at the state of finances and ensuring he did his due diligence.

“It’s been a hectic year,” commented Rebman, for her part. “I’m going to have to lie back a bit.”

But her enthusiasm for music festivals is far from gone. Even during the discussion about the Nakusp Music Festival and what could have been changed, her excitement and energy was clear. She discussed the possibility of bringing another music festival to Nakusp, perhaps a smaller one that could be part of another event like the rodeo.

“It’s a pretty scary proposition after what happened in Nakusp,” she said, noting that another kick at the music fest can would definitely need to have the town more involved.