The long-awaited LITfest, meant to be a celebration of the city of Little Rock, has been canceled by Mayor Frank Scott Jr., just three days before it was set to begin. The announcement came shortly after the city canceled its contract with Think Rubix, the organizers of the event, which briefly left the festival in a state of limbo.
Mayor Scott issued a statement Tuesday afternoon canceling the event, saying, “My vision for LITFest was to celebrate the best of Little Rock through a diverse and inclusive festival featuring music, the arts, food and informative panels – to unite the City with this unique event while supporting local, economic and cultural development of our City. While LITFest is now canceled for this weekend, it is my desire to see it move forward in the future.”
The City of Little Rock stated that it had canceled the contract over a violation, and a $30,000 payment was halted, with no further payments to be made in the future. The Vice Mayor of Little Rock, Lance Hines, called for an outside investigation by the Pulaski County prosecutor or Arkansas State Police into the festival after the contract was canceled.
“Let’s be clear,” said Hines, “It’s not the city. It’s the Mayor and his staff that pushed this. Circumvented the board, circumvented the city manager and city attorney by not disclosing material items regarding said event and contract.”
Cracks had been showing already, as the city attorney found recently that numerous documents related to the festival had been deleted. Furthermore, the documents in question had been requested under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
Prior to that, it was noted that Charles Blake, Mayor Scott’s former chief-of-staff, had been hired by Think Rubix shortly after his retirement from the city government. The city claimed that Blake had nothing to do with the selection of Think Rubix as the event’s organizers, and had already resigned when the decision was made.
“Throughout this process, both Think Rubix and the City have acted legally and within the normal bounds of contracting and procurement,” the statement by Mayor Scott said. “Think Rubix is a reputable company with a strong background in event planning and management, and, despite heavy scrutiny, it had been implementing plans for LITFest on behalf of the City since the contract took effect June 9.”
He went on to say that the contract was not optimized for the scale and scope of the festival, and was disappointed that “divisive politics negatively affected the vision and impact of this inaugural festival.”