Beloved short film festival Tropfest will not go ahead in 2015, cancelled just weeks before its annual December event.
Tropfest founder and director John Polson said a "challenging sponsorship climate" had been the deciding factor in shelving the event this year, alleging a "terrible and irresponsible management of Tropfest funds".
“It is devastating for me to announce today that Tropfest will not be taking place as scheduled in Centennial Park this year. In the past week or so, I have been made aware that the company contracted to raise the funding and administer the Tropfest event is unable to move forward for financial reasons," Polson said in a statement.
"Despite a challenging sponsorship climate, Tropfest has done reasonably well in attracting support this year; however, to my great surprise, the management company has informed us that it is unable to proceed."
The short film festival, this year marking its 23rd anniversary, was to have taken place in Sydney on December 6. As recently as Sunday, the event's official Facebook page was spruiking this year's event.
Polson, speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, said financial problems were "well into six figures," and that Tropfest was starting legal action against a company -- which he declined to name -- which has been managing Tropfest.
"I'm not suggesting there's any impropriety here," he told the SMH.
"I honestly don't know. The best I can say now is mismanagement... It's hard to avoid 'mismanagement' if you're not even getting straight answers about what the situation is."
In his statement to media, Polson said the announcement was "the most difficult one I've made in Tropfest’s 23 year history."
"My heart goes out to this year’s 16 filmmaking finalists, to our incredible list of sponsors and partners, and of course to our loyal and beloved audience," he said.
"It is too early to tell what has actually happened here, although it is hard to avoid concluding there has been a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds. I and others will be spending the coming weeks and months investigating what has transpired.
"In the meantime, I ask all of Tropfest’s many supporters to bear with us while we figure out how we can rebound from this disaster. Now more than ever this unique Australian cultural event needs your patience and support."