Give local talent a stage

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The cancellation of the Jeffrey Iqbal Live show 20 minutes before it was scheduled to begin is a lesson to all promoters – look within rather than overseas

Last month, a show organised by one of Melbourne’s most reputed event promoters Baba Shaheed was cancelled on the day of the show. The act: Jeffrey Iqbal Live. The announcement to cancel the show was made 20 minutes before the doors were open. Baba broke the news to the audience as they gathered for drinks at the foyer of St Kilda Theatre. He choked with sadness and his eyes filled with tears. His wife and children consoled him. This was not something the community should go through. It’s a family’s hard-earned savings that blew up that night. The loss was an estimated $50k. Forget about the time Baba spent on the show.

The crowd at the venue was sympathetic. They consoled Baba and his family for making an attempt to bring the artiste to town. There were a hand-full of fans of the artiste who were disappointed and they were refunded promptly by Baba. The reason for the cancellation of the show, according to Baba, was the artiste’s management “throwing tantrums and demands” for better production at the venue.

The incident was described by Baba on his Facebook page. He accused some in the industry of greed. We could gather from his emotions and the announcement at the venue and on social media that the artiste’s managers were demanding a better sound system at the venue. We could not verify these facts. According to Baba the artiste and his band reached the venue only at 5 PM for the sound check. It was too late for the organisers to do anything to improve the production quality. Some of the supporters of the band went on social media and accused Baba for not paying up on time.

At The Indian Sun we called Baba and spoke to him the next day. We can confirm that we heard a telephone conversation between the artiste and Baba the next day and the artiste categorically said money was not the reason they cancelled the show. The artiste was avoiding questions raised by Baba and he merely said, “Let’s not talk about it, Baba.”

Baba has learnt his lesson. But have other promoters learnt theirs? I guess not. I have personally promoted overseas acts to an Indian audience in Melbourne. The only advice I can give fellow promoters is to stay away from overseas acts till the economy recovers.

The Australian economy is in doldrums and families do not have money to spend on concerts. The average cost for a family to go out for a concert would be around $250 to $400. Now how many families can afford to spend that kind of money on an artiste for a night? You get more value for money if you take your family to a movie or dine out.

There are many reasons why shows are not working these days — artiste fees are too expensive; venue and production fees are high; ticket sales struggle to meet targets; community is losing interest in acts that are over-exposed; and Melbourne and Sydney are over entertained.

Promoters, my word of advice. I would always recommend investing in local artistes. Invest in local talent and build shows. We have many budding talented dancers and singers in our community. Invest in shows that will promote their talent. This will ensure that you as a promoter are respected in the community and this will cement your position as a true crusader of art, culture and music. Let promotion not be just for making money. Let it be for the cause of the community as well. You will then walk away with respect rather than in tears.

Have a great Autumn!

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