Ken Prue wants Ban on Town competing on Entertainment

Nobody seems unhappy that the Town produces Movies in the Park or organizes the Sand Castle Festival but Loft owner Ken Prue objects to the Town competing with Concerts.  A case in point is this coming weekend when there are seven significant entertainment events mostly produced by not-for-profit organizations yet the Town is putting on a Concert at the Community Centre that directly competes.  Ken has put his case into an email addressed to all Councillors and the local media.  He starts by saying: “Cobourg is rich in entertainment and cultural offerings. This weekend 3/27 to 3/31/2019,  many mainstays of our cultural landscape present first rate entertainment”. Then he lists the seven competing events and the Town’s competing event – a Rolling Stones Tribute band, The Blushing Brides.

Ken Prue
Ken Prue

Competing Events (as listed by Ken)

  • Northumberland Learning Connections (16 years) presents the kickoff of its 6 week series on NFLD Thurs & Fri Not-for Profit
  • Northumberland Players (41 years) presents ‘Silent Sky’ Thurs/Fri/Sat Not-for-Profit
  • Imaginate by Greenwood Coalition (13 yrs ) presents on issues of poverty and homelessness – Sat at Victoria Hall Not-for-profit
  • Northumberland Orchestra and Choir (41 years) presents Blues icon Molly Johnson in a fundraiser concert Not-for-profit
  • The LOFT (5 years) presents Jazz Concert (Five Weeks for Miles) Friday in the final of a five week series
  • Les AMIS (36 years) presents International viola sensation Rivka Golani in concert at The LOFT Not-for-profit
  • Oriana Singers (50 years) presents River Reflections, their annual Spring Concert Not-for-profit

Ken concludes:

I wish to offer that The Town of Cobourg should not be in the business of presenting entertainment that is competitive with private enterprise and the community’s not-for-profit sector.

The March 30 weekend is packed with an array of quality entertainment that would be the envy of any community, large or small. The presence of the Blushing Brides Concert is a) unnecessary b) misuse of public resources c) not consistent with the Town’s mandate.

I would like to propose that Cobourg Council consider a motion that this kind of activity is not the mandate of the Town and should not be undertaken by Staff or elected officials of The Town.

This proposal fits right in with the current discussion on the cultural plan and speaks to Dean Hustwick’s closing remarks at the recent public meeting on the cultural plan where he said that the plan would help Council decide on the Town’s role in Culture.

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Keith Oliver
5 years ago

After reading the various postings related to Ken’s proposal, my suggestion is that if the Town is to continue to be involved in the local entertainment scene as an instigator and promoter of events that compete with others for the available audience … that the Town commit to a well design, financed and measurably effective program to enlarge that audience by publicizing all Cobourg entertainment/cultural events outside the town limits … This to cover an area within a 45 minute drive of Cobourg. According to the Victoria Town Hall ticket office it is not uncommon for more than half those attending Victoria Hall events to come from out of town. With some trial and error which might include a stand alone dedicated web-site, such a commitment by the Town should satisfy everyone.

5 years ago

I am flabbergasted at this proposed ban. The Town of Cobourg has been a key player in the culture, entertainment, and arts scene for decades, long before the CCC, the Loft and many others. IMHO, I say bring it on — the more choice people have to experience in this town the better. Not everyone likes opera, or rock n roll, or art shows, or reptile zoos. I realize weekends are prime times for many events, but there are 7 days in a week so if an event provider has an issue then they can book throughout the week. And who says it’s just the Town? Well guess what? Even the non-profit sectors are directly competing with each other. Next Saturday is both the ‘Rock the Night’ event for the Hospice and an orchestral Led Zeppelin and The Who concert at Trinity Church — both of which are likely to be of interest to the rock music genre. If these aren’t directly in competition with each other I don’t know what is — and the Town has nothing to do with either of them. In the City there are literally thousands of events being put on simultaneously by public, private and non-profit organizations. People have the right to choose which one they like best and make their plans accordingly. Considering imposing a ban on the government to effectively restrict the offering of arts, culture and entertainment to the public is ludicrous.

Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

This is not the first time the Town has hosted a live band at the CCC. In the early summer of 2013 the famous Canadian band the Tragically Hip played there and you can bet they raked in a healthy profit. Here’s an entry in the entertainment blog about how tickets were sold out in just 3 hours. Verification here.

Nobody complained then as I recall! Perhaps one of our Town budget scrutinizers might want to scour Budget documents from 2013 to find out just how much profit was made from that event.

Surely our Town can meet these entertainment preferences as well as opera. If only the local snobs could bring themselves to open the doors to diversity, we could have it all!

Derek Blackadder
5 years ago

I get the conflict problem. Perhaps solved by a process whereby such things could be calendared well in advance and efforts made by each to avoid conflicts. I object to excluding the Town from doing these kinds of things. I object to privileging the private sector over the public. If the Town does it better let the Town do it.

Keith Oliver
5 years ago

Ken raises a good point when he asks whether or not the Town should be involved in initiating events that compete with those put on by private or non-profit sources. Ken made a very real commitment a number of years ago when he invested in The Loft and brought to Cobourg movies and live performances that until then we’te not available. When I and a friend were promoting a new therapy for treating dimentia with personalized music Ken allowed us to use The Loft 10 times to show the film Alive Inside to several hundred caregivers. The point Ken raises deserves serious and respectful consideration. The Town is in a position to be able to put on unique events, movies-on-beach, festivals-in-the-park, make venues available to others, etc. There is no question that variety will benefit all, often drawing many from out of town. In that regard perhaps the Town should make a greater effort to publicise events outside its borders, a point that was made several times at the recent public meeting on Cobourg’s proposed Cultural Master Plan.

manfred s
Reply to  Keith Oliver
5 years ago

once again, completely sensible and logically stated, Keith. There is room for far more to happen all at the same time, playing to a rich diversity of tastes and interests. When there’s interest, there’s support, and “competetion” is not even a thought worth mentioning.

5 years ago

Banning entertainment sponsored by THE TOWN is way over the top.
The CCC is the only venue that can handle popular entertainment for a large audience from Cobourg and outside.
Lots of popular entertainment happens on Town property, the beach, Victoria Park, Victoria Hall, the Firehall etc.
And as has been pointed out, popular entertainment does not really conflict with most cultural events.
It sure does not conflict with the high-brow programs at the ’boutique’ Loft Art House Cinema and its tiny elite audience.
The Loft Art House Cinema is not even handicapped- accessible.
Cobourg’s cultural people stay away from taking a high-and-mighty attitude, if they want tax-dollar support.

Reply to  Albert
5 years ago

Once again with the name calling. I find your responses to be very ignorant.

5 years ago

When Mr Prue decides to book a Stones concert into his small emporium I will agree that the CCC shouldn’t

Reply to  ben
5 years ago

And don’t forget that the Town of Cobourg also has a large-audience capacity Concert Hall that for decades has hosted such prestigious acts as Gentlemen Husbands, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Bowskill, Jim Cuddy, Michael White, Sweetwater Band, Brad Halls and John McDermott, long before the CCC and the Loft, all to name a few. This idea to ban the Town from bringing musical or other entertainment performances into our community to serve ALL of its residents, to provide choice to ALL of its residents, is shallow and troublesome.

Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

Not everybody is interested in reptile shows or opera. What about us? The only event I’d even consider attending is the CCC concert and I’m sure I’m not the only one. We used to have 3 downtown bars that all featured live bands 6 nights a week. Oh for the good old days when live music ruled!

Surely this town is big enough we can provide suitable entertainment for everyone ESPECIALLY our young people.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

Cobourg would still have 3 downtown bars and live bands 6 nights a week if it were profitable. Perhaps YOU (not WE) should provide suitable entertainment for everyone.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
5 years ago

Very true but that life style was pushed out of town and out of business when certain politically
& socially correct people of council back in the day said they wanted a change to & clean up downtown as they put it . Thus King st today BORING
Extra enforcement of the LLBO rules for over serving etc were put into play and the Bar owners were heavily fined , Licences suspended for wks at a time as a penalty for anyone coming out of a bar appearing to be intoxicated was charged why even the Kids Arcade in the old Sarby’s store across from the town hall was shut down . These venues would still be successful today if they were allowed to operate The main st of Bobcaygeon has several of these places of entertainment back up and operating on its main st. today and a complete & successful transformation has happened to the Downtown Core

5 years ago

I am not so sure I agree with Mr Prue assertion that town’s concert directly competes with the other seven events in that the target audiences are very different.To directly compete one would have to be after the same target audience.Yes there are several events this weekend, but I find it highly unlikely that those that choose a concert for a Rolling Stone tribute would be deeply interested in or conflicted by the subject matter of the other events.
Northumberland Learning Connections….. Thurs / Fri… Does not conflict and ….subjects are politic and climate change
Northumberland Players – ‘Silent Sky’ “explores the women’s place in society” Other dates are available….
Imaginate by Greenwood Coalition Friday march 29 – Does not conflict. Even if it did its line up is “social justice leaders. artists and Musicians”
Northumberland Orchestra and Choir….. Might be some cross over of audience as the Rolling stones has blues roots
The LOFT….. Again Friday Night…. No conflict and targets a jazz audiuence
Orianna Singers – 60-voice mixed choir – March 31 – does not confllct

Just saying I think people doth protest too much!

Leona Woods
5 years ago

Ken makes some excellent points and his summary of all of the events on this weekend in Cobourg points to how rich in culture we are. Many of these events have been on the calendar and planned for over a year so it is a shame that the tribute band concert is the same weekend. I like the idea of the Town running more events like the reptile show, hosting the train show,or a gardening show like the one in Peterborough which can raise money but also provide a service and fill a gap.

Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

comment image
Hmmmm verrry interesting.
Mr. Prue complains competing arts events.
There was a time when he decided to show operas when first he opened the Loft.
The Capitol in Port Hope had been showing simulcast operas in HD from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, had made expensive improvements to their sound system and had a steady season’s subscribers list.
It was pointed out to Mr. Prue that the opera audience was finite and that the competition could be lethal.
Mr. Prue went ahead anyway asserting that his operas were done by The Royal Opera in London.
Besides his tickets were cheaper.
And so the predictable happened, local and tribal loyalties took over and many Cobourg opera aficionados stopped going to Port Hope.
Seems that Mr. Prue has given up on the operas and happily the Capitol is still showing Live From The Met.

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
5 years ago

This opera lover is very happy to be able to go to livestreamed opera from two different major companies in both Cobourg and Port Hope. And luckily both opera and ballet from the Royal Opera House is coming to the Loft. And some Shakespeare. Will you be worried that that will compete with local theatre, Walter?
Do write something positive for once!

manfred s
Reply to  Gailr97
5 years ago

c’mon Gail, Walter’s comment can’t be justifiably labeled as either positive or negative. It’s an objective recap of the facts as they have happened. I see no bias here. Ken is an entrepreneur working to supply entertainment to an audience that will support his efforts, and that’s also a fact. Ken should be commended for that effort. There is no criticism here of his actions to protect his work, something which is completely rational, understandable and acceptable. To characterize Walter’s comment as negative can be taken as an attempt at skewing those facts as being inaccurate, which they are not. While not exclusively so, if anything, Walter posts far more positive comments than any other kind, something that can’t be said of many others’ contributions.

Wally Keeler
5 years ago

Thanks for bringing this to the surface.

5 years ago

Thanks, Ken!

Pat Stanley
5 years ago

I agree. The Town should know what’s going on, and if they want to plan fund-raisers, do it at off-peak times, to fill in gaps in the schedule. If there was a schedule.

5 years ago

I heartily agree with Ken Prue’s position. Lets support our local charities that do good for the community. If the town is looking to cover the cost of the CCC centre then have more events like the Reptile show or sports events.
The town or Mr Huswick needs to declare what is driving this move to the competing entertainment business and make a business case for it, particularly before spending money on a covering for the ice to bring in more competing entertainment.

5 years ago

I AGREE with Ken the town constantly competes with private business . in more ways than we can count when we have street fests down town the Town brings in Food Vendors and trucks to directly compete with the local Restaurants of King st this is nothing new .

Fact Checker
5 years ago

The recent capital budget had a request (about a $100K) for a floor covering system (cover the ice) for use when the CCC hosts “concerts or large audience events”. I don’t recall a business case being presented to support this request. How many events are needed to pay for this item?…… Over what period of time?
In the case of the Blushing Brides concert, it would be instructive to know how much the CCC (Town) is expected (and actual) to earn (net) from this event?

Leisure Enthusiast
Reply to  Fact Checker
5 years ago

Agreed. How much money has the town fronted to put on this concert? Is that publicly available?