Palladium To Ease Venue Shortage

The new Palladium may not be the talismanic building that shares its name with those in Greek and Roman mythology, but the world’s two biggest concert promoters reckon it will do a lot to ease the region’s venue shortage.

The new venue, which will open April 29 with a dinner and variety show for invited guests, is at Dubai Media City and will provide the local entertainment organisers with a 5,500 standing capacity, 3,000 seated capacity and a 4,000-capacity mix of the two.

It can accommodate banquets and receptions for up to 1,500, and also has its own rehearsal space.

Raymond Gaspar, a major shareholder and the venue’s general manager, didn’t begin designing the building before seeking the opinions of major venue operators, mainly in London.

He believes that taking their advice has enabled him to create a world-class entertainment centre that can handle every genre, including rock, pop, ballet, opera and stand-up comedy.

Cathryn Gaspar, his partner, heads The Great Entertainment Company and is marketing the venue and ensuring it has a full diary.

“The market isn’t developed enough to do major shows on a weekly basis, but – by being adaptable in a multipurpose venue – we should be able to make sure there’s always something going on,” she explained.

Roger Edwards, well-known in the U.K. for his time with major venue businesses such as Wembley, the NEC Group and Reading Hexagon, has acted as a consultant during the latter part of the build and will stay on through the setup to help get the venue up and running.

Edwards, who The Stage once described as “one of the country’s most successful theatre managers,” now runs his own venue management consultant. Clients include Sony PACE (now part of Live Nation), Bank of America, Nomura Investments, Apollo Theatres, Ticketmaster and the Millennium Tourism Project.

The new Dubai property, which is estimated to have cost $68 million, has already found favour with Live Nation and AEG.

“I’ve always maintained that the only way our Middle East industry can consolidate as an established market is by having access to purpose-built venues,” said the local AEG Live office’s Thomas Ovesen. “It will allow us a longer season and also cut away some of the out of control one-off setup expenses we are currently carrying for large-scale outdoor shows.”

Elissa Murtaza, who runs Live Nation’s Middle East ops, described the Palladium as a “much-needed addition to venue options in Dubai.”

“I’ve known Raymond Gaspar for several years as we worked together in Lebanon, and his determination and vision in creating this wonderful facility will give the promoters of the region an ideal indoor solution,” she explained.

Murtaza has already started pencilling summer shows for the venue.