Melbourne’s Steve Harper named VMA president
Steve Harper, director of arenas at Melbourne & Olympic Parks (Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena, Margaret Court Arena), has been appointed president of the Venue Management Association (VMA).
Harper (pictured), who has been on the board of the Queensland-based association since 2012, succeeds Trevor Dohnt.
“It’s a pleasure for me to take on this role,” he comments. “I feel both honoured and privileged that the VMA has given me their support.”
VMA is a trade association for venue managers in the Asia-Pacific region. Together with the affiliated International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), it has more than 5,000 members, including representatives of AEG Ogden, Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Venues Wellington, Brisbane Entertainment Centre and Adelaide Festival Centre.
Following last week’s bombing of Manchester Arena in the UK, Harper offered VMA’s “prayers and thoughts” to its “venue colleagues in the United Kingdom, as well as with all of the people touched by the horrific events experienced in recent days.”
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Calls for Margaret Court Arena name change
Tennis star Martina Navratilova, Australian Republic Movement head Peter FitzSimmons and Noise11.com editor Paul Cashmere are among the high-profile Australians to have called for the renaming of Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena following recent comments by Court about same-sex marriage.
In an open letter to The West Australian, Court, a former tennis world №1, said she is to cease flying with Qantas as the airline “has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage”.
“I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible,” she wrote. “Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines where possible for my extensive travelling.”
The letter has also received significant criticism on social media, with Twitter users suggesting alternative names for the venue in the light of Court’s comments.
“We remain an organisation committed to embracing equality, diversity and inclusion”
The 7,500-cap. sports/entertainment arena that bears her name (pictured) is one of the city’s most popular music venues, in recent years hosting Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, The Black Keys, Little Mix and Ryan Adams. It is managed by Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust (MOPT), which also operates the nearby Rod Laver Arena (16,200-cap.).
In a statement provided to IQ, a MOPT spokeswoman distances the trust from Court’s comments but declines to comment on the venue’s name.
“Melbourne & Olympic Parks does not support Margaret Court’s comments,” she says, “and we remain an organisation committed to embracing equality, diversity and inclusion, from our fans to our colleagues who deliver the events that people love to attend.”
The controversy follows a similar similar debate in Bristol, UK, with venue Colston Hall ultimately deciding to change its name to sever links with slave trader Edward Colston.