From the Butthole Surfers to the IRS, the last-minute cancellation of last year’s Sunset Junction Street Fair in Silver lake has left a long list of unpaid bands, food vendors and government agencies now wanting their money back and debts repaid. But that’s going to be tough because the nonprofit that organized the 30-year-old festival filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in December as it seeks to liquidate its assets. The Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance declares only $500 in assets (office furniture and supplies) and $928,000 in liabilities, according to court documents. Among the debtors: Michael McKinley, the former hairdresser who drew praise and criticism as he oversaw a festival that grew in size and stature. McKinley, the executive director, is owed $50,000.
McKinely is among more than 200 creditors listed in the bankruptcy filing. The list reflects the festival’s popular music line up that featured well paid, major acts and up-and-coming musicians. Creditors included well known bands – the Butthole Surfers and Ozomatli, each owed $20,000 – and newer groups – The Growlers ($5,000) and Yellow Red Sparks ($150) – as well as music promoters, Spaceland Productions ($24,000).
Also owned money are the business people and nonprofits that had purchased booth space to hawk everything from kabobs to causes: Kettle Corn Kings ($1,000); LA Gay & Lesbian Center ($350); Señor Fish ($1,200); and Pet Harnesses by Ines ($550).
Other notable creditors were attorney Philip Tate ($30,000), who tried and failed to convince the city’s Board of Public Works to grant the festival the necessary permits; the IRS ($20,000) and CBS Radio ($61,500).
Bankruptcy attorney Jonathan Leventhal, which is representing the nonprofit, declined to comment.
One of the creditors is Piyawan Sae Tang, the “Chicken Lady” vendor The Eastsider wrote about shortly after the festival was cancelled. Tang said she paid $1,300for the booth and spent an additional $2,000 for chicken and additional supplies. Her V&R Thai-Chinese booth took in about $4,000 during the 2010 Sunset Junction street fair and was looking forward to selling more chicken skewers and other food at last year’s event. Instead, she scrambled to find a booth at another festival in Orange County after Sunset Junction was cancelled.
Tang said she paid a $1,300 booth fee in cash and has called repeatedly to find out when she will get her money back. The only response has been a letter notifying Tang that she is one of the more than 200 creditors waiting to get paid.