Con­cert cri­sis

Fall­ing Cana­dian dol­lar mak­ing life dif­fi­cult for con­cert pro­mot­ers in Char­lot­te­town and ev­ery­where else

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

The fall­ing loonie is mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to pull off a ma­jor sum­mer con­cert in Char­lot­te­town, says a lo­cal pro­moter.

Mark Fisher with Shift Pro­ject and Event Man­age­ment is still work­ing on the two-day Wa­ter­front Con­cert Se­ries event for the Char­lot­te­town Event Grounds for the Canada Day week­end, but the slump­ing Cana­dian dol­lar means he stops short of guar­an­tee­ing a show.

“Hon­estly, it gives me a headache ev­ery day,’’ Fisher said on Mon­day.

“It is prob­a­bly the sin­gle most stress­ful part of what I do right now — the con­ver­sa­tions that are had at the man­age­ment and agent level and the prices that are quoted.’’

Fisher isn’t the only one feel­ing the squeeze.

Or­ga­niz­ers with Mar­itime Coun­tryfest in Fredericton, N.B., can­celled their show over the slump­ing dol­lar, and there are ru­mours that an­other one of the city’s fes­ti­vals, FredRock, could be next.

Fisher said try­ing to pull in acts from the United States this year means costs go up about 40 per cent.

Fisher’s group brought Kim Mitchell and April Wine to Con­fed­er­a­tion Land­ing Park last sum­mer, but he wants to build a big­ger brand at the much larger event grounds.

City coun­cil also cre­ated new rules pre­vent­ing con­certs at­tract­ing more than 1,000 peo­ple from tak­ing place at the park.

Jeff Squires, CEO of White­cap En­ter­tain­ment which pro­duces the Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, said a strug­gling loonie is a rather fa­mil­iar foe, point­ing out that it was around 75 cents when the fes­ti­val launched in 2009.

“It’s def­i­nitely an im­pact on your busi­ness,’’ Squires said, not­ing that the 2016 lineup is al­ready set, as are ticket prices. “Who knows what the next five months are go­ing to look like.’’

Some spec­u­la­tion has the dol­lar drop­ping to 59 cents by March.

“It’s part of the busi­ness, and you have to deal with it. Yes, it is an ex­pense.’’

Erin Ben­jamin, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mu­sic Canada Live, a na­tional con­cert ad­vo­cacy group, said it’s not just a pro­moter’s prob­lem. She said can­celled con­certs means money not be­ing spent in ho­tels, restau­rants, lo­cal at­trac­tions and trans­porta­tion com­pa­nies.

“A po­ten­tial cri­sis looms for the con­cert sec­tor and those com­pa­nies and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions who bring in­ter­na­tional acts to Canada, em­ploy tens of thou­sands of Cana­di­ans, add to the cul­ture of our coun­try and pro­vide eco­nomic ben­e­fit to lo­cal, re­gional and pro­vin­cial busi­nesses,’’ Ben­jamin told The Guardian.

Fisher said he’s go­ing to need the city’s Spe­cial Events Re­serve Fund (SERF) and prov­ince to step up with some fi­nan­cial sup­port.

“Can I say with cer­tainty that our event is go­ing to hap­pen? No. Are we work­ing ev­ery day, all day to make it hap­pen? Yes.’’

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Char­lot­te­town con­cert pro­moter Mark Fisher says the slump­ing Cana­dian dol­lar is mak­ing it ex­tremely chal­leng­ing to put to­gether a two-day con­cert at the Char­lot­te­town Event Grounds for the Canada Day week­end this sum­mer. Fisher says it means the cost of bring­ing in a U.S. act is 40 per cent more ex­pen­sive.

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