The festival’s artistic director, Detroit techno artist Carl Craig, has been told his services arebeing terminated on May 30, two days after this year’s festival ends.

Craig reportedly was told that he had failed to get signed contracts from 18 of the 73 performersplaying this year. Craig has countered with a lawsuit against the festival’s producer, Pop CultureMedia, headed by Carol Marvin.

While artists say the free festival will go on as planned May 26-28, Craig’s firing does not bodewell for the future, said Patricia DeLuca, associate editor of Mixer magazine in New York, whichfollows electronic music.

“I don’t think the festival would continue to be an international draw. Carl Craig has got a lot ofrespect in the electronic music community,” DeLuca said May 15. “To not have him on boardnext year I think would greatly affect the festival. I don’t think they’ll have the same caliber ofartist without him.”

While many of the pioneers of electronic music – traditionally made by DJs with turntablesinstead of bands with instruments – are from Detroit, most of them had to go to Europe tobecome major stars.

The Electronic Music Festival made them stars at home and attracted electronic fans from aroundthe world.

The involvement of Craig – an internationally respected artist, producer and businessman – in thefestival’s organization gave it instant credibility.

Craig said he was blind-sided by the faxed dismissal. He countered with a lawsuit against PopCulture on May 14, claiming defamation of character and breach of contract. While he called hisrelationship with Pop Culture’s chief Marvin “very turbulent,” Craig said that being fired came asa shock.

“I put my reputation on the line to make sure that this would be a great festival,” he told TheDetroit News. “My agreement was for three years, and I had every reason to believe that I wouldbe doing it.”

Calls to Marvin and Pop Culture went unanswered.

Phil Talbert, special activities coordinator for the Detroit Recreation Department, a festival co-sponsor, said the issue of Craig’s firing is between Pop Culture Media and Craig.

“We were informed by Pop Culture Media that there were some issues with contracts and beingable to meet the timelines the city requires to be able to pay those contracts,” he said. “We areworking diligently to put everything in place.”