Concert Cancellation Haunts Halifax

Creative Artists Agency is seeking a “remedy” from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on behalf of client Kid Rock, whose show was axed last summer by a promoter who received cash advances from the city and later went broke.

Power Promotional Events’ Harold MacKay on June 30 canceled the first night of a two-day concert featuring Kid Rock, Counting Crows and Daughtry.

“We truly regret that fans of these artists will not get to see them this year, and also we apologize for the disruption and inconvenience this may cause,” MacKay said in a statement at the time.

The cancellation didn’t exactly come out of left field, however. In the weeks before the show, CAA’s Nat Farnham contacted Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly seeking assistance to save the struggling Kid Rock date, according to email correspondence obtained by the city’s Chronicle Herald.

“I know that the city is not a party to this deal, but I wanted to reach out to ask if you could help us prevent the engagement from being canceled,” Farnham wrote. “There are rumors that the city has thought about stepping in on the July 23 show (and) from what I hear, the July 24 show isn’t in great shape either.”

Kelly responded in an email at the time and thanked Farnham for his concerns but didn’t offer to step in, the Herald reported.
“We hope that the matter gets resolved and doesn’t negatively affect Creative Artists Agency’s attitude toward Halifax as a concert venue,” he wrote.

But that’s where things get a little complicated. Halifax’s chief administrative officer Wayne Anstey recently announced his resignation amid reports of a secret $400,000 cash advance to MacKay before the concert to help with costs for a Black Eyed Peas performance.

An internal city audit reportedly showed that the $400,000 advance was in addition to $1.85 million the city had already forwarded to MacKay’s Power Promotional Events between January and July last year.

Needless to say, CAA has questioned why Kelly’s email to Farnham failed to fess up to even knowing MacKay.

“In his response, Mayor Kelly pointedly does not acknowledge Halifax’s role with the festival, and seemingly feigns ignorance regarding Harold MacKay and PPE,” CAA’s Angie Rho wrote in a letter to city councilors, the Herald reported. “In short, our clients are due a remedy for the festival’s breach of its promise to them.”

In an interview with the paper, MacKay, who ceased PPE’s operations last October, told the paper the Kid Rock cancellation had nothing to do with the city.

“That chapter got closed a long time ago,” he said.

MacKay added that Kelly and Anstey had been “fantastic supporters of concerts from Day 1.”

“They would do anything for people – they’d go places, they’d promote, they were looking after the public purse as best they possibly could, and what they did in the end, if they slipped up on it, they should have just said, ‘We slipped up on it, but this is what it meant to our city,’” he said.

MacKay also stressed that none of the cash advances to PPE came from taxpayers’ money, but rather from advance ticket sales.
“We were accessing our own money, not anybody else’s money,” he said. It’s perceived out there that we were accessing all this money to host the concerts. We weren’t. We were accessing our own money – the ticket sale money.”

Halifax’s auditor general has launched an investigation into millions of dollars in cash advances over several years between the city and MacKay for concerts featuring Keith Urban, Paul McCartney and KISS.