Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Metallica: Halifax show could be in doubt

Halifax is playing hardball with organizers of next month’s Metallica concert.

The ChronicleHearald reports that, in a letter dated June 15, Jerry Blackwood, the revenue manager for Halifax Regional Municipality, spells it out for promoter Michelle MacKay. MacKay heads MacKay Entertainment Inc. and is married to Harold MacKay, the controversial former promoter who is also involved in organizing the concert.

“HRM’s position regarding providing services to your concert is firm,” Blackwood wrote to MacKay. “We will not release any services without an acceptable repayment strategy for the funds owing from the 2010 concerts.

“Based on the history and resulting public funds owed from the 2010 concerts, our position is that it would have been prudent and practical on your part to consult HRM at the senior management level as to your plans for the Metallica concert. Had HRM been advised upfront in the early days of planning for this concert, you would have known our position and could have made an appropriate business decision at that point in time. Today, the fate of the concert remains in your hands.”

That letter was copied to Richard Butts, the city’s chief administrative officer, Mary Ellen Donovan, the director of legal services, and Bruce Fisher, the acting finance director.

It shows the municipality has been trying to recoup the $359,550 remaining from the $400,000 advanced to Harold MacKay last summer because of poor advance ticket sales for the Black Eyed Peas and Alan Jackson shows.

“We have nothing to say,” city spokeswoman Shaune MacKinlay responded Monday when asked about the city denying services for the Metallica show.

But correspondence between Harold MacKay and Blackwood earlier this month lays out the problem.

“From the public’s perspective, public moneys were improperly used to finance the two concerts on the Halifax Commons that were held last summer,” Blackwood wrote in a June 8 letter to MacKay. “This situation needs to be addressed.”

Wayne Anstey, the city’s former chief administrative officer, stepped down in March after he acknowledged that unauthorized outlays of cash had been provided to MacKay.

“Therefore,” Blackwood’s letter said, “any so-called grant from the municipality, if any, was not a valid grant and any moneys paid out pursuant to the invalid agreement are now due and owing.

“The MacKay family has asked the municipality to provide services in support of the Metallica concert. The municipality is not obliged to provide the services you have requested. If you and any member of your family wish to continue to do concert business with the municipality, the municipality expects that a payment plan to reimburse the public for concert debts will have to be negotiated.”

It may already be too late to save Metallica’s Halifax show. In that same June 8 letter, Blackwood said: “Any commitment of municipal services needs to be made by June 14, 2011, in order for the municipality to be in a position to deliver on those services for the July 14 concert date.”

Read the full story at The Chronicle Herald here.

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See also:

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