Chronicle of a Halloween event that didn’t take place
As the organizers of the Maskerade Ball event that was to take place at the Pepsi Forum on Friday, October 29, the CCGLM, Productions Playground and Produkt would like first of all to thank everyone who purchased a ticket to attend. We also wish to thank all the DJs, including Carl Cox, Fedde le Grand and Joachim Garraud, who were on hand to perform their sets, all the sponsors and partners, as well as the entire staff, who made every effort to see that the event could take place. One thing is for sure, the last-minute cancellation of Maskerade Ball disappointed us every bit as much as it did you.
Ticket refund – All those who bought tickets for the event will be reimbursed in full, according to the methods spelled out in detail at the end of this press release.
The circumstances behind the cancellation
Today the organizers wish to explain the exact circumstances that led to this distressing cancellation. A number of reasons have been put forward on the Web to account for what happened. Among other things there was the question of insufficient turnstiles at the entrance to satisfy the requirements of the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal (SSIM). Although this point was in fact raised, we were able to rectify the situation to their satisfaction, as was the case for the multiple other requirements of theirs that we were happy to submit to in good faith. If in the end the event was cancelled, it was solely because of a technical formality that the SSIM brought up at the last moment.
The SSIM would not authorize the holding of the event on the grounds that the technical installations plans (sound and lighting), duly approved by the Pepsi Forum’s official engineers, were sent to them by e-mail and therefore did not contain, in a tangible way, the engineers’ official seal. It should be noted that it was the responsibility of Diversio (the organization that runs the Pepsi Forum) to handle that transmission, despite a clause in the rental contract stipulating that “the occupying lessor must, at its expense, obtain all the necessary permits, licenses and authorizations for the event and all its authorized auxiliary activities.” In effect, the organizers’ responsibility was limited to ensuring that the plans in question were supplied to Diversio, who then had to have them approved by their engineers and afterwards forward them to the SSIM. In our capacity of occupying lessors, we had no hand in that process other than doing a follow-up with Diversio to make sure that they acted within the required deadlines – which we did. As Diversio confirmed to us that the plans authenticated by their engineers had in fact been forwarded to the SSIM, we considered this matter settled.
The Service de sécurité incendie having raised the matter of the non-admissibility of an e-mail or fax only on the day of the event itself, it was not possible to obtain the paper copy containing the required seal within the required deadline, even though the Pepsi Forum engineers had clearly approved the plans. Presented by the SSIM with the possibility of seeing the Pepsi Forum evacuated from top to bottom (movie theatres and restaurants included) and of being placed personally under arrest, the senior manager of the Pepsi Forum decided unilaterally to cancel the event, which happened less than three hours before its scheduled presentation.
Respect for the requirements formulated by the authorities
The CCGLM, Productions Playground and Produkt wish to point out that all the requirements formulated in the reference document Paramètres demandés par le SPVM en regard à la tenue d’événement de type rave (Parameters Required by the City of Montreal Police Service [SPVM] with Respect to Holding a Rave-Type Event) from the Section Enquête Multidisciplinaire et Coordination Jeunesse (SEMCJ) – Moralité (Centre opérationnel Sud) of the SPVM had been fully satisfied. We are aware of the validity of those requirements for the safety of the public and we make maximum efforts to respect them at each of our events. We also respected the requirements of the Service de sécurité incendie. The question of the authentication of the plans by the engineers fell strictly within the purview of the managers of the Pepsi Forum. The SSIM had every right to raise a completely valid legal aspect; nonetheless they demonstrated a zeal that one could be tempted to characterize as excessive, all the more so in that we had staged an event of the same type in this setting in September 2009, and with similar technical installations plans. In our view, this was an unfortunate intervention that in no way reflects the outstanding collaboration that has developed over the years with the SPVM and the SSIM.
The reality of obtaining permits
The CCGLM, Productions Playground and Produkt also wish to set things straight for the numerous sidewalk superintendents who state that the various permits should all be obtained well in advance to avoid problems. On that point, it is essential to understand that the final decisions of organizations like the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ), responsible for delivering the permits and the suspensions of alcohol permits, are often handed down a day or two before the date on which the event is held, even if the request has been filed months earlier. In the same way, the final authorization of the Service sécurité incendie is given only on the day of the event, after an inspection of the premises to check on whether these comply with previously established requirements.
Lack of appropriate venues: Montreal’s reputation is at stake
Finally, an important problem has to do with the near absence of appropriate venues for presenting such events in Montreal. Venues like the Palais des congrès can only present a limited number of events of this type because the suspensions of alcohol permits required are of an exceptional nature. The delivery of special permits and of suspensions of permits depends on the final decision of RACJ representatives, who may, depending on their perception of the matter, give a negative response at the very last moment. Thus, the holding of electronic dance music events (which last the whole night) is not negotiated in a fixed and precise regulatory framework, but is subject to a considerable degree of arbitrariness, with results we know only too well. As event organizers who seek to contribute to the international, tourism and cultural celebrity of Montreal, we must make the point that the development of a stable regulatory framework for overseeing this type of event is greatly to be desired in order to avoid tarnishing both the reputation of the city as a vibrant and open place and that of the organizers as professionals who are respectful of law and order. The current case-by-case approach has clearly demonstrated its limitations over the last few years.
Details on ticket refunds
Tickets purchased on the Web (Ticketdriver, Wantickets, Clubzone): tickets will be refunded completely (including taxes and service charges) automatically on credit-card accounts used for the purchase. Allow from 10 t0 30 working days before the refund takes place, depending on your credit card issuer.
Tickets purchased from promoters: contact the promoters from whom you got your tickets in order to obtain a complete refund of the amount paid (including taxes and service charges)
Tickets purchased in boutiques and specialty points of sale: refunds of these tickets can be had exclusively from Blended Productions on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 9 and 10, from noon to 6 p.m., as well as on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 11, 12 and 13, from noon to 9 p.m. It is recommended to call Jean-François Grenier at 514.567.9096 before presenting yourself at the Blended Production offices, located at 916b, Ste-Catherine Est, App. 7. No refunds will be available at the points of sale.