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Canadian venue’s damages appeal rejected

A Canadian appeal court has upheld a C$175,000 (€120,000) damages award against an Ontario venue after a concertgoer suffered a serious knee injury following a Toby Keith gig.

The court heard that the main exit of Toronto’s Ontario Place was unexpectedly blocked on the evening of 14 June 2016, leading plaintiff Patrick Lyng, then aged 21, and a friend to leave via a grassy hill that was “devoid of barricades or warnings”.

Canadian Underwriter reports that Lyng, who had consumed alcohol, tore his ACL after jumping from the hill – which was slippery due to heavy rain – in his flip-flops and landing awkwardly.

Lyng sued Ontario Place for compensation under the Occupier’s Liability Act in relation to the incident, with a court subsequently finding the venue 75% negligent compared to the concertgoer’s 25% in a 2022 ruling.

The 15,000-cap appealed the decision, claiming the injured fan was “the author of his own misfortune” by jumping from the hill.  However, Ontario’s Court of Appeal rejected the argument.

“Ontario Place failed in its duty to take care that persons were reasonably safe while on its premises”

“The trial judge specifically found that [by] blocking the pedestrian bridge and making no reasonable effort from preventing the crowd, a number who have been drinking alcohol, from going onto that wet hazardous hill, Ontario Place failed in its duty to take care that persons were reasonably safe while on its premises,” it ruled last month.

“It is important to note that the trial judge did not find that Ontario Place had an obligation to prevent patrons from entering onto all patches of wet grass, everywhere on the premises, but pinpointed what he viewed as Ontario Place’s negligent decision to not place ‘barriers to prevent people from going down [the] slippery hill’. He concluded that it would have been a ‘simple matter to warn people to avoid that hill as it was a slip-and-fall hazard after a heavy rain’.

“The trial judge did what [the Occupiers’ Liability Act] directs him to do – he carefully considered what would have been reasonable in the circumstances. In the end he found two clear breaches: 1) the failure to erect barriers at the location where people would proceed down the hill in question, and 2) the failure to warn the crowd (i.e., by a sign) to avoid the hill.”

 


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Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings expands to Canada

British singer-songwriter Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings festival is expanding to Canada.

Curated by Turner, Lost Evenings VII will take place from 19-22 September at The Theatre, Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto, in partnership with Live Nation.

The award-winning four-day event launched at London’s Roundhouse in May 2017, when it starred Frank Turner And The Sleeping Souls, Skinny Lister, Will Varley, Ben Marwood, Ducking Punches and Non Canon. Subsequent festivals have been held under the banner in Berlin, Germany and Boston, US, while it made its West Coast debut last September at House of Blues Anaheim, California.

“After a triumphant time in Anaheim this year, I’m pleased and proud to announce that the seventh instalment of my very own Lost Evenings festival will be taking place in Toronto in September 2024,” says Turner. “The festival keeps growing, and Toronto is one of my favourite cities in the world, so it’s a perfect match. See you all in the Great White North.”

A long-time supporter and patron of the UK’s Music Venue Trust, Turner will perform a different headline set each night, with further lineup announcements still to come. There will also be special guests and panels, plus a second stage named after Turner’s friend, the late merchandise manager Nick Alexander, who was killed in the 2015 Bataclan attack in Paris, France.

“This pivotal occasion marks the beginning of a new chapter in live entertainment in Toronto”

Four-day passes for Lost Evenings are priced from C$220 (€150) and are 75% sold out after going on sale last month.

Live Nation Canada is the exclusive booking agent for the new 5,000-cap The Theatre at Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto, and will jointly promote the programming with gaming and hospitality firm Great Canadian Entertainment.

The $1 billion resort will celebrate its official grand opening weekend in May with headline performances at the theatre by Gwen Stefani (3 May) and Blake Shelton (4 May).

“We are thrilled to welcome Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton to The Theatre for Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto’s Grand Opening Weekend,” says Great Canadian Entertainment CMO Gavin Whiteley. “This pivotal occasion marks the beginning of a new chapter in live entertainment in Toronto as we curate a diverse array of world-class performances, and entertainment experiences for our guests.”

 


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Feldman Agency to launch open-air venue in Toronto

Canada’s The Feldman Agency is opening a new 9,000-seat open-air venue in the capital city of Toronto.

The Bowl at Sobeys Stadium will be located in the eponymous multipurpose sports and entertainment complex, best known for hosting one of the top tennis tournaments in the world, the National Bank Open.

In partnership with Tennis Canada, the venue will open in May 2024 for concerts with “some of the biggest names in music and entertainment”.

According to a release, The Bowl will offer more than 5,000 square feet of retail space for concessions, as well as as onsite bar and lounge and 20 top-scale executive lounges.

“Toronto needed another outdoor concert space for both domestic and international talent”

“After nearly 50 years of booking our talent in some of the world’s biggest and best venues, we know what performers and fans want, and The Bowl at Sobeys Stadium has what it takes,” says Jeff Craib, CEO of The Feldman Agency. “With a comparable concert business to New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Toronto needed another outdoor concert space for both domestic and international talent. We can’t wait to open our doors in 2024 to welcome some of the world’s leading performers and thousands of their fans.”

Tennis Canada CEO Michael Downey adds: “The concert series is an exciting new initiative for Tennis Canada. The opportunity to partner with The Feldman Agency and bring music to The Bowl at Sobeys Stadium will enable us to showcase our world-class venue to a whole new audience. Hosting concerts in our stadium will allow us to experience the best of both worlds, exploring new entertainment streams while staying true to our mission of growing tennis year-round – with our programs continuing to run throughout the year on our indoor and outdoor courts at Sobeys Stadium.”

With offices in Toronto and Vancouver, The Feldman Agency represents artists including Michael Bublé, Nelly Furtado, Shania Twain, Simple Plan and Sum 41.

 


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Dice launches in Canada

Music ticketing platform Dice has furthered its expansion across North America by launching in Toronto, marking its debut in Canada.

The launch comes alongside the app’s announcement of exclusive deals with partners including Toronto’s largest independent concert promoter Collective Concerts, as well as Transmit Presents, The Garrison, Baby G, Not Dead Yet, Soluna, South Paw and Prepare the Ground.

“Toronto is the perfect stage for Dice’s Canadian debut,” says Dice president Russ Tannen. “With our new partners, we can bring fans in Canada the shows they love with an easy, innovative, and transparent ticketing experience that was designed for them.”

Dice has also announced 15-year Toronto music industry veteran Dave Lock as its first Canadian hire.

“I’m thrilled to be leading Dice’s expansion into Canada and can’t wait to see how this transforms an industry that has been in desperate need of innovation”

“After my introductory meeting with the Dice team, the first thing I thought was how much I wish we had Dice when I was going to shows in Toronto growing up,” says Lock, who will serve as Dice’s director of venue & promoter partnerships in Canada.

“Their fan first app and discovery features are game changers that almost every promoter and venue owner I’ve worked with over the past 15 years have been asking for. I’m thrilled to be leading Dice’s expansion into Canada and can’t wait to see how this transforms an industry that has been in desperate need of innovation.”

Dice launched in North America in 2019, quickly scaling into key markets across the US including New York City and Los Angeles.

In August, the company raised a $65 million funding round led by MUSIC, which has helped accelerate Dice’s geographical expansion. Dice has recently entered new markets such as Scotland, Liverpool and Miami, in addition to landmark deals in Europe with venues like Alexandra Palace and recent renewals with Troxy, among others.

 


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Live Nation Canada and Drake to open Toronto venue

Toronto’s newest venue History will officially open its doors this weekend after restrictions around general admission capacity were lifted.

A collaboration between Live Nation Canada and Drake, the 2,500-capacity venue plans to host 200 events annually.

Located in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood, the building includes a convertible general admission area and reserved seating configurations.

We are thrilled to bring History to life in Toronto with live entertainment

“We are thrilled to bring History to life in Toronto with live entertainment that we know will elevate the city’s concert-going experience,” said Riley O’Connor, chairman, Live Nation Canada. “We can’t wait for both fans and artists alike to experience our newest destination music venue.”

History opens on Sunday (7 November) with a show by Bleachers. Other upcoming concerts include Deadbeats, Chvrches, Duke Dumont and WizKid.

The province of Ontario lifted capacity limits on 25 October in the majority of settings where proof of vaccination is required, with plans to lift mask-wearing requirements in indoor public spaces, as well as remove proof-of-vaccine requirements for all remaining settings, by the end of March 2022.

History will also launch a community arts programme aimed at supporting local youth’s artistic aspirations through both exposure and financial support. Art students in the area will have the opportunity to submit a portfolio to be considered for a commissioned opportunity to create band artwork for an upcoming show.

Multiple recipients will be chosen annually and awarded with a bursary, in addition to having their creations promoted at the venue, online and in-print.

 


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Live Nation set to get Canada ‘back on touring map’

Canada is welcoming US artists to perform on the country’s stages for the first time in 18 months.

Vaccinated Americans and permanent residents are now able to cross the Canadian border for the first time since closing on 18 March 2020.

“This step opens possibilities to get Canada back on the touring map for sure. Some artists already have shows planned with more conversations picking up,” says Arthur Fogel, chairman of global touring for Live Nation.

Live Nation Canada’s first concert with major US acts will be on 2 September with Maroon 5 and Blackbear at the Budweiser Stage in Toronto. This will make the artists the first major US acts to play in the country since reopening.

This week, Live Nation Canada announced plans to require all artists and fans to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test to attend shows at the company’s stable of owned and operated Canadian venues.

The mandate is set to come into effect from no later than 4 October at Live Nation Canada’s outdoor venues and festivals, including Budweiser Stage (Toronto), History (Toronto), The Danforth Music Hall (Toronto), Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver), Midway (Edmonton), and The Velvet Underground (Toronto).

“Some artists already have shows planned [in Canada] with more conversations picking up”

The live entertainment behemoth is also sharing best practices for artists to request these policies at third-party venues where Live Nation promotes shows but does not control protocols.

“Live Nation and the live music industry are about uniting people, and vaccines are one of the greatest tools for making sure that everyone can continue to enjoy live music together,” said Wayne Zronik, president business operations, Live Nation Canada.

“We’re confident this is the right move for everyone coming out to shows, including artists, fans, crew, and our staff.”

Live Nation has announced similar entry requirements for markets including the UK and the US. IQ also understands that the promoter will take a market-by-market approach based on local governments’ requirements –many of which already utilise Covid-status certification for entrance to public spaces.

 


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New Toronto arena to double as ‘global hub for esports’

Global esports and entertainment organisation OverActive Media is set to build a multipurpose 7,000-seater arena in Exhibition Place, Toronto, projected to be complete in 2025.

According to the company, the venue will host 200+ events a year, driven primarily by music and entertainment bookings, while also serving corporate events, award shows and ‘a full slate of esports events increasing over time’.

OverActive Media is the owner of four major global esport franchises, including Toronto’s two professional teams – Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League and Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League.

“We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world”

The venue will be home for both teams and the company hopes to establish the Toronto arena as a “global hub for major international esport events”.

The arena, designed by Populous, is just one aspect of the privately financed $500 million project, which includes a theatre-style entertainment venue and hotel complex.

“Today is another important step in the evolution of OverActive Media. We are building a world-leading, 21st-century sports, media and entertainment company and this best-in-class performance venue will be the chosen home for a new generation of fans that think differently about their entertainment choices and experiences,” says Chris Overholt, president and CEO at OverActive.

“It has always been our intention to develop a venue and hosting strategy and to build a facility that could not only serve as an iconic home for our two franchises, but ultimately emerge as a global hub for major international esport events. We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world. This venue will redefine Toronto’s event hosting opportunities in every way,” added Overholt.

The arena will be the first new sports or entertainment venue built in Toronto since 2007 when the city opened BMO Field, a 40,000-capacity outdoor stadium at Exhibition Place.

 


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eps establishes Canadian division

Germany’s eps has expanded its international operations with the launch of a new division in Canada.

The Munich-based company, the global leader in temporary event floor and crowd-control products, has appointed Joe Novak as managing director of eps Canada, headquartered in Toronto.

Okan Tombulca, managing director of eps group, says: “We’ve been working in the Canadian market for many years. After numerous requests from our clients to work there directly, we wanted to fulfil their wish. Therefore, I am very pleased that we managed to make this possible and that we founded eps Canada.”

Novak joins from the Rogers Centre/Toronto Blue Jays, and is also founder of Act IV Productions.

“I am delighted to welcome Joe Novak to the eps family,” continues Tombulca. “He has always been passionate about the live entertainment industry and has great knowledge and experience. Joe is the perfect addition to our international eps team and I am looking forward to the start of eps Canada.”

“I am very excited about this groundbreaking opportunity to serve the Canadian market”

“I’ve been collaborating with eps for many years. I am very excited about this groundbreaking opportunity to serve the Canadian market and lead the launch of eps Canada here in Toronto,” adds Novak.

“Having a local presence will enable eps to expertly service all promoters, venues, festivals and special events across Canada.”

The new division will offer a full range of live event infrastructure solutions, including drivable plastic systems, pedestrian pathways, pitch coverings, heavy-duty roadways, security fencing, stage barricades, crowd control solutions and CAD services.

The launch of eps Canada brings eps’s network to ten subsidiaries globally, including its main business in Germany: Canada, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, the US and Brazil.

 


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Coroner: ‘inadequacies’ caused Radiohead drum tech death

An investigation has found that “inherent deficiencies” in design and construction led to the stage collapse that claimed the life of Radiohead drum technician Scott Johnson in 2012.

The conclusions of the inquest, which took place in Johnson’s hometown of Doncaster in the UK, come after those of a previous investigation in Toronto, where the fatal incident took place.

Johnson was killed when a stage roof collapsed before a Radiohead show at Downsview Park in Canada.

“Inadequate technical advice coupled with wholly inadequate construction techniques led to the collapse of the roof system which led to Scott Johnson’s death,” stated coroner Nicola Mundy at the UK inquest.

“It’s quite clear from what I have heard that the design and construction itself had inherent deficiencies within them”

“It’s quite clear from what I have heard that the design and construction itself had inherent deficiencies within them.”

Speaking at the inquest, Ken Johnson, the father of the drum technician, stated that the coroner’s comments were “exactly what we needed someone to say” and should enable an acknowledgement of the “negligence” that led to the fatal accident.

A previous Toronto-held inquest returned a verdict of ‘accidental death’ in April, a conclusion that Radiohead deemed “frustratingly insufficient” given that the collapse was “shown to be preventable”.

The Canadian inquest also resulted in a set of non-binding recommendations for improving safety at live events.

A court case brought against Live Nation, Optex Staging and stage engineer Domenic Cugliari was stayed in 2017.

 


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Legendary jazz promoter Walter Homburger passes

Walter Homburger, the German-born promoter whose International Artists Concert Agency (IACA) brought jazz and classical music greats including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Luciano Pavarotti to Canada, has died aged 95.

Born in Karlsruhe in 1924, Homburger, a Jew, emigrated to Canada in 1940 and became a citizen (British subject) two years later. After a spell working on a pig farm in Aurora, Ontario, Homburger made his first foray into concert promotion, which, according to FYIMusicNews’s Nick Krewen, was “a disaster”.

“He borrowed money to guarantee soprano Lotte Lehman a $3,750 haul for three German leider recitals at Toronto’s Eaton Auditorium in 1947, and lost $1k,” Krewen writes. “But his backers felt he had a future and covered his deficit. Their trust was rewarded when three months later Homburger recouped his losses with a sell-out by Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz.”

In addition to working as a promoter, Homburger was a successful manager, guiding Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould to global success.

In 1957, Gould became the first Western artist to play the USSR after the second world war. Homburger told Gould biographer Colin Eatock: “I felt it would give Glenn some good publicity. […] But it was the McCarthy era, and I was very concerned about Glenn not being able to get into the United States after visiting Russia. So I had some correspondence with the Canadian government – with [future PM] Lester Pearson, who was at that time our external affairs minister.

“This is a huge loss for … all those fortunate enough to have worked with him”

“The government was behind the idea, and they helped me with contacts in Russia. I asked them to please let their colleagues in the USA know that they are in favour of Glenn going to Russia so that he wouldn’t be banned from the United States.”

Gould performed in Moscow and St Petersburg (then Leningrad), and also gave lectures during the tour, which made him a household name in Russia.

As Homburger’s relationship with Gould ended, in 1962 he became managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a position he would keep until his retirement in 1987. When he retired, the orchestra held a benefit concert, the Great Gathering, which made more than C$2.3m for the orchestra’s charitable foundation.

For his work with the Toronto Symphony, Homburger was made a member of the order of Canada. He was also awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

“Walter represented a rare mix in one man: He was a brilliant impresario, a strategic leader and a kind inspiration to all who knew him,” says Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) CEO Matthew Loden. “This is a huge loss for the TSO family and for all those fortunate enough to have worked with him, but we are comforted in knowing Walter’s legacy survives in our collective memories and in the music we make every day.”

Homburger is survived by Emmy, his wife of 58 years, his son Michael, daughter Lisa and four grandchildren.

 


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