Neil Cox named Palais Theatre GM
Live Nation Australia has appointed Neil Cox, most recently general manager (GM) and chief executive of Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch, New Zealand, as GM of Melbourne’s Palais Theatre.
Cox succeeds outgoing GM Mark Graham, who departed in May to take up a new role outside the music business. Live Nation took over a 30-year lease on the 2,896-capacity Palais, located in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, in July 2016.
At the Theatre Royal (1,290-cap.), Cox’s remit in included dealing with local and federal government, event creation and procurement, and, significantly, the rebuilding and returning the of the venue to working order after damage caused by the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
“The past 10 years at the Isaac Theatre Royal has been extremely varied, massively challenging but ultimately very rewarding,” says Cox.
“I hope to ensure that the Palais continues to be one of Melbourne’s premier live entertainment venues”
“Moving from one iconic venue in New Zealand to an equally iconic and historic venue in Melbourne is a challenge that I relish. By bringing my vast experience to the role, I hope to ensure that the Palais continues to be one of Melbourne’s premier live entertainment venues, providing an unforgettable experience for all that walk through the doors.”
Live Nation has also announced 13 community projects as recipients of its inaugural Palais Theatre Community Fund, with nonprofits including Artists for Kids’ Culture, Port Melbourne Primary School, Rawcus Theatre Company Inc, St Kilda Mums, Elwood St Kilda Neighbourhood Learning Centre and Gasworks Arts Park each receiving a grant of up to A$5,000.
The fund will invest $100,000–$120,000 annually into the local community for the duration of the 30-year lease. It is funded via a 50¢ donation from Live Nation for every ticket sold for an event at the Palais Theatre.
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Coppel named chairman of Live Nation Australasia
Michael Coppel has been named chairman of Live Nation in Australia and New Zealand.
Coppel (pictured), who sold his Michael Coppel Presents business to Live Nation in April 2012, was formerly Live Nation Australasia’s president and CEO, overseeing the company’s acquisition of Splendour promoter Secret Sounds and the lease on Melbourne’s Palais Theatre.
Former COO Roger Field takes over as CEO, and will be responsible for the day-to-day running of Live Nation’s concert business in Australia and NZ.
“Michael and Roger have done an amazing job of transforming our business in Australia and New Zealand … I am delighted that they are going to be continuing to work together”
Coppel, meanwhile, will “continue to service his long-term industry relationships, mentor the company’s growing promoter team in Australia and New Zealand and continue to look for opportunities to grow Live Nation’s business in the region,” says LN.
He comments: “We have built a great team over the last five years, and I am excited to be able to continue to work with them to deliver unforgettable live experiences to music fans across Australia and New Zealand.”
Alan Ridgeway, president of Live Nation’s international and emerging markets division, adds: “Michael and Roger have done an amazing job of transforming our business in Australia and New Zealand over the last five years. I am delighted that they are going to be continuing to work together in their new roles and am sure they will take the company to new heights.”
Palais’s Neil Croker launches concert consultancy
Neil Croker, the outgoing CEO of the Palais Theatre in Melbourne, has launched a new concert consultancy, The Prestige Presents.
Croker, whose Palais Theatre Management Company was ousted as operator of the 2,896-cap. venue – now run by Live Nation Australia – spent nine and a half years at the Palais, and has also directed and promoted Australasian shows by Michael Jackson, AC/DC, Dire Straits and Bette Midler.
With The Prestige Presents, Croker says he’s “bringing his extensive experience, knowledge and contacts within live music, theatrical events, production, management, operations, strategy, planning, marketing and commercial services to the marketplace” with the new advisory and concert consultancy business, providing a “professional, reliable, communicative, supportive relationship to take events to the next level”.
Croker can be contacted at email@example.com.
Live Nation names Melbourne’s Palais Theatre GM
Mark Graham has been named General Manager of the iconic Palais Theatre in Melbourne, Australia – a role he’ll start when Live Nation takes over the venue in 2017, according to the Leader.
The exec has been Bairnsdale Racing Club chief for the past 10 years, managing clubs including Kyneton, Pakenham and Bairnsdale.
Prior to that, Graham was Event Operations Manager for the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust.
During the next six months, Graham will spend time in Doha helping to set up events at two new stadiums managed by Live Nation.
Live Nation will take ownership of Palais Theatre in April 2017 after winning a bidding process for the 30-year lease. The venue was formerly managed by Palais Theatre Management.
It was awarded a $20 million grant from the Andrews Labor Government in May, which will see the building upgraded and repaired.
Work is expected to be completed by the time Live Nation’s tender begins.
St Palais, which attracts over 250,000 visitors every year, opened in 1927 and has staged gigs with acts including the Rolling Stones and Tom Jones.
Upcoming events include live dates from Pentatonix, Joe Bonamassa, Scorpions, The Dandy Warhols and Dionne Warwick.
Melbourne Palais: LN in, but ‘everyone can book’
As expected, Live Nation Australia has been awarded a long-term lease on the 2,896-capacity Palais Theatre in Melbourne.
After a controversial tender process criticised by some as “secretive” and “weighted to favour bids that promised most money to the council”, the City of Port Philip (a local government area centred on the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda) yesterday chose Live Nation (LN) Australia – led by Michael Coppel Presents founder Michael Coppel – over Playbill Venue Management as the preferred operator for the historic venue, offering it a 30-year lease, the terms of which will see LN pay A$875,000 (US$660,170) per year in rent and spend more than $7 million ($5.28m) on redevelopment works in the first five years.
Live Nation was, notes the city, “the superior candidate overall and their proposal was found to meet or exceed all of council’s objectives for the Palais Theatre”. Its bid demonstrated “strong[er] operating strategy” than Playbill, which operates the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, and was backed by “extensive international venue management experience, targeted investment to support an increase in the number and diversity of events and patronage and access to artists and live content”.
“We will have a very open and transparent booking process to make sure that every promoter gets an opportunity to book the venue”
LN has also committed to the establishment of the Palais Theatre Community Fund (PTCF), which will be funded by a 50¢ contribution from every ticket sold.
Crucially, the Palais (pictured) will remain open to rival promoters. “We will have a very open and transparent booking process to make sure that every promoter gets an opportunity to book the venue,” Live Nation’s Greg Gillin tells ABC.
Port Philip dismissed the venue’s previous operator, Neil Croker’s Palais Theatre Management Company, earlier this year. “It’s beyond me what the council have done – why they have [got rid of] the bloke who took it on when it was a broken down shithole and built it back up into a prestigious venue,” said Chugg Entertainment’s Michael Chugg at the time.
Opposition to Live Nation Palais Theatre takeover
A campaign group has penned an open letter criticising the “secretive process” by which Live Nation has reportedly been cleared to take over historic Melbourne music venue the Palais Theatre.
Addressed to Lily D’Ambrosio, the Victorian Minister for energy, environment and climate change, and Martin Foley, the member of parliament for Melbourne’s Albert Park, the letter, written by Peter Holland of ilovemypalais and unChain Port Phillip and seen by Noise11, blasts the “ill-considered recommendation” of Port Phillip council that the tenure of the 2,896-capacity venue be awarded to Live Nation – a decision rumoured to have already been made but which is yet to confirmed.
The tender process for the Palais was “weighted to favour bids that promised most money to the council, and other non-financial criteria were not given appropriate weight”
Holland argues that if Live Nation ran the Palais it would be closed off to other promoters – a viewpoint shared by industry veteran Michael Chugg – and says Port Phillip’s selection criteria was “weighted to favour bids that promised most money to the council, and other non-financial criteria were not given appropriate weight”.
He urges D’Ambrosio to reject the council’s recommendation that the Palais be leased to Live Nation and request that it starts again with the tender process “on a better basis”, requiring the council to:
- Ask the current operator [Port Phillip Council, previously the Palais Theatre Management Company] to continue on an interim basis
- Establish a new evaluation panel with at least two members with extensive experience in the music industry
- Ensure that elected councillors have a high degree of board oversight
- Make the draft expressions of interest and requests for proposals available for public consultation before adoption by the council
- Release the names of shortlisted candidates in order to give an opportunity to the music industry generally to make submissions to the evaluation panel and the council
Live Nation Australasia and Playbill Venue Management are the final contenders in the running for the Palais bid.
Last month Chugg, the owner of Chugg Entertainment and founder of Frontier Touring, expressed his concern that Live Nation was the frontrunner, telling The Age: “When you book a venue for a concert they want to know who the act is. So you will be in a situation where you are telling a rival who the act is before that act is booked. And that rival will be running the venue.”
Chugg also criticised the decision to dismiss the Palais Theatre Management Company. “It’s beyond me what the council have done – why they have [got rid of] the bloke who took it on when it was a broken down shithole and built it back up into a prestigious venue,” he said.