Concert crisis

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Charlottetown concert promoter Mark Fisher says the slumping Canadian dollar is making it challenging to put together a two-day concert at the city's events grounds for the 2016 Canada Day weekend.

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.

Wayne Long, Charlottetown's events development officer, said they're hearing the same thing from all kinds of promoters.

"The whole exchange rate is having a harsh impact,'' Long said. "If you look throughout the region, you don't see as many touring acts of late. I'm sure that's tied into the impact of the Canadian dollar because, essentially, what it does is it puts you at greater risk; it eliminates margins, puts an elevated ticket price at play.''

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.''

Organizations: Waterfront Concert Series, Whitecap Entertainment, The Guardian Special Events Reserve Fund

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Fredericton, United States Confederation Landing Park Canada

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Recent comments

  • laurent Beaulieu
    January 19, 2016 - 19:11

    A dollar in Canada is still worth a whole dollar. Hire Canadian acts and there will be no problem.

  • Ryan
    January 19, 2016 - 15:52

    Why does everybody think booking Canadian bands would be any better? If it's a successful band, they're most likely touring in the US meaning their asking price is going to be the same as the US bands as well. I do agree that for Canada Day weekend they should be focusing on getting Canadian talent however it's completely irrelevant to the financial problem at hand.

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    January 19, 2016 - 15:48

    Is that a loonie on the floor nah that's just the new American 75 cent piece

  • Big Joe
    January 19, 2016 - 15:14

    This is just another pile of you know what being tossed out there so that the province will jump in and give another handout of taxpayer dollars to these promoters so they can fill their pockets. Let them get Canadian talent, and if it's too much for them to pay for the talent, then shut it down. Paddle your own canoe, and if you can't, then take a hike. As far as tourism goes, it's not about tourism so much as it is about making a few of these people rich on the backs of the taxpayer.

  • Paco
    January 19, 2016 - 15:04

    We don't need concerts. We need strip bars and legal marijuana! Then you'll see return customers.

  • Peter
    January 19, 2016 - 13:23

    I feel for some of the other shows, Canada Day though shouldn't be such a problem. We don't need American musicians performing here on Canada Day. Seems only fitting, doesn't it? Paying Canadians to perform on Canada day. I know it doesn't have to be like that, not many people would be offended, but still. It's a good reason go in that direction, anyway. That along with the fact our loony is worthless in the US.

  • Fed up
    January 19, 2016 - 10:58

    Why do they keep spending to build on a couple of concerts! Drunks! Money should be put into an entertainment place FOR FAMILIES!! How many times have people written how badly we need another "Rainbow Valley?" Remember how the FAMILIES poured in, staying for a week of two at a time?!? These idiotic concerts bring a herd of young people on alcohol and, yes, drugs! We end up paying through the teeth to bring the big shots in...most of us (families) don't enjoy one minute of them. How many knocks on the head does Tourism need to learn this?!? It's ridiculous!! As J.B. just puts drunks on the highways...and on people's lawns, etc. entertain families and see tourism grow!

  • dudeface
    January 19, 2016 - 10:45

    There are a LOT of great local, maritime, and Canadian acts. Why do we have to hire US acts to celebrate Canada Day?

  • MFH
    January 19, 2016 - 10:40

    Maybe they should only bring in Canadian talent. After all it is a "Canada Day " concert.

  • de udder guy
    January 19, 2016 - 08:28

    Not to worry, I am sure the government will step in to add some financial "balancing" to be used solely for infrastructure (wink,wink) to be spent (wink, wink) locally.

  • Jimmy Buffet
    January 19, 2016 - 07:41

    Please tell me tax payers are not going to be on the hook for all these concerts this summer . Just amounts to a bunch of drunks on our highways .