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Harold MacKay Responds To The Concert Controversy

[Editor's Note: The letter below was sent by Power Promotions' concert promoter Harold MacKay yesterday, and we are reprinting it in its entirety. See Also: The Mayor Responds: Op-Ed]

I am sending this to you just to give some clarity and it is not meant to be anything but informative.

Unless you are living in a total vacuum you have no doubt read or heard about the slander I am receiving in the media. I have stayed out of the fray until now and I plan on going public this week to tell the other side of the story and briefly here it is:

1.       We started doing concerts on Magnetic Hill in Moncton in 2006 and we held (two) one in 06 and one in 07. The City of Moncton put hundreds of thousands of $$ into the site which would lower the Promoters costs and they would recoup $$ by charging a site rental fee. They would also release ticket revenue funds to us on a regular basis through to show day less any portions that would ultimately belong to them.

2.       In 2008 we approached the City of Halifax to see if they were interested in us hosting a concert on the Halifax Commons and they expressed great interest. When asked what would it take we said similar to Moncton i.e. infrastructure costs and access to ticket revenue. They agreed to assist us with infrastructure costs by providing certain services and they would redeem costs through charges on ticket service fees as well as on some other site fees. Access to ticket sales revenue could happen as long as we provided them with Guarantees from our businesses and personally which we agreed to do. Basically the set up was very similar to the Moncton arrangement so being local residents we decided to host an event here in 2008.

3.       In 2009 we came back with a KISS event and arrangements were made with the City similar to previous year.

4.       Also in 2009 after chasing Paul McCartney’s agent (Sharon Kim-Dion) for two years for an event in Halifax we finally got word that he would come here however the fee would be $3.5 million which had to be guaranteed. We immediately told Sharon that we were out because we just couldn’t afford the fee and risk. A couple of days later Sharon called me to tell me she heard from Mayor Kelly that Premier MacDonald was prepared to offer up the Guarantee if Power would produce the event. The Province provided the guarantee, we agreed to produce the show and other arrangements were made with the City again duplicating what was done with other shows. An additional $300,000 was given by the Gov’t as a grant to offset additional production costs for a show that was bigger than normal and another $300,000 forgivable loan to be repaid at certain ticket level attainments. In the end with disappointing ticket sales levels this event created a significant financial loss and the new NDP government refused to honour any losses on this show and Power was left with these losses. Throughout the process right up until show day we were led to believe (by several bureaucrats) that the Province would have to cover the loss as they were the original guarantors of this event.

5.       Extremely disappointed we expressed our frustration about the situation and demanded a meeting with the City. Attending were Mayor Kelly, Dan English, Wayne Anstey and Scott Ferguson whom collectively told me they had been speaking with Provincial officials and were told that if we could bring them a couple of events in 2010 that they were willing to assist us to relieve some of the debt created thus far. We immediately set out to secure groups which we did, made a request for funding assistance a couple of times in writing only to be told sorry can’t help. We tried to get meetings and continued seeking assistance right up until show time using every avenue available to us (incl calls made by the Mayor on our behalf) only to be turned down.

6.       In 2010 with two shows confirmed we set them up exactly as we did before with the City partnering in the same way they had always helped. Drawing closer to event day it started to appear that our events were headed for a financial loss due to poor ticket sales. As the event drew closer regular meetings were being held with the city and we were very concerned with financing and asked if they could assist us further in any way. Realizing that the Province had left us hanging they discussed a possible way to assist us with two (2) $200,000 forgivable grants which would be tied to ticket sales levels in the hope that we would reach B/E positions on this events through final weeks sales. This was of tremendous assistance to us and we truly appreciated their assistance demonstrating to us that they understood the tremendous economic spinoffs these events bring to a City.

7.       The economic spinoffs of all of our concerts held in Halifax since 2008 has been calculated at over $42,000,000 using data collected by Events Halifax. (HST alone is over $5 million of which the province would receive half). So let’s recap was the City or Province investments good value or not!!! What about the exposure i.e. international media coverage, Paul McCartney video shot in Halifax, Artist recognition with fans globally about Halifax.


In the end it appears there are various agendas trying to hurt or blame certain people over all this which is terrible. From our end, Mayor Kelly was always a big supporter of these events and in the end the amount of spending pales in comparison to the amount of economic spinoffs generated by these events. Wayne Anstey was always a true professional and everything he did was always in the best interests of the City of Halifax and losing him over this is the biggest tragedy of it all. Apparently unbeknown to us our business transactions with the City never followed the proper procedure so I guess that started the fire however it is too bad they wouldn’t try and resolve this in a much more lenient way as we know the intent was never meant to do anything but to help our Citizens.

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