An annual benefit concert for an embattled climate group that was recently found liable in a sexual harassment lawsuit has been called off, organizers announced last week.
“Organizers are already working on the event’s return next year in the same location,” David Huckfelt said, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
Huckfelt is a musician and the artistic director for the Water Is Life Festival, which takes place annually at Bayport Festival Park in Duluth with the proceeds going to Honor the Earth. He did not say if future iterations of the festival will financially benefit the group.
“With the full return of live music, festivals and national touring post-pandemic, Water Is Life is taking a year off to coordinate support from new artists and align with urgent environmental concerns and extend the reach of this important social justice music festival into the future,” Huckfelt said. “We are excited about returning to full force in 2024 with the most diverse and powerful lineup of artists and activists yet.”
Last year’s festival focused on a theme of “women as the first line of resistance and resilience in the face of an all-out assault in the United States against Mother Earth and the rights of women everywhere.” There were an estimated 4,000 attendees at the 2022 festival. The event was sponsored by First Avenue and a Minnesota Public Radio subsidiary.
According to First Avenue, proceeds of the festival went to Honor the Earth to “assist in urgent climate-justice efforts here in Minnesota & all around Turtle Island (Planet Earth).”
In April, Honor the Earth was ordered to pay $750,000 in damages to a former employee who accused the organization in 2019 of failing to take her sexual harassment complaints seriously. Following the lawsuit, founder Winona LaDuke resigned from the organization, citing a “punitive, white, carceral system.”
LaDuke also seemed to criticize the victim for seeking justice in the state courts instead of pursuing “restorative justice.”
Honor the Earth has received funding in the past from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, the Tides Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. The group’s total revenue exceeded $7 million in 2022.