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Evenko & Place Bell: A Match Made in Event Heaven
international artist performances, festivals, sports events, and theatre…the
name Evenko has become synonymous with entertainment since 2010. As the largest independent event promotor in
North America, Evenko doesn’t back down from challenges. Laval’s Place Bell
programming has just joined a long list of Evenko’s exploits. Jacques Aubé, Executive Vice-President and
CEO of Evenko, spoke to Laval Families Magazine about the company’s rapid
growth and success.
Just in the last few years, Evenko’s team has expanded and the company went from producing 225 shows to more than 1200 a year, including festivals like Osheaga, Île Sonique, Heavy Mtl and Yul Eat.
To attain this level of success, Aubé and his team first had to convince the entertainment industry to come to Quebec, and to the Centre Bell in particular. This was a tall order at the time, but it revved up the young company to push forward. “Our goal was to develop Quebec’s music scene through ‘club concerts’ at Metropolis, Club Soda and others,” says Aubé. “We wanted to create a sort of breeding ground for artists who could grow with the clubs and eventually perform at Centre Bell.”
Aubé says that the Evenko team is an essential ingredient when it comes to the success of the company. Everyone on the team has their strengths. Aubé began his career in accounting for events promotions, which allowed him to acquire a solid foundation in finance. While he was still the Director of Sales at Centre Bell for the Canadiens de Montréal, he was presented with an opportunity to lead a team in concert promoting.
When Équipe Spectra joined the Evenko team, Aubé began to get involved in festivals. His team, whom he calls “a gang of passionate people”, made connections with others in the entertainment industry, becoming his “bookers”. These are people who have 20 years of experience and are in touch with agents in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto. These are the individuals who convince big event organizers and international artists to come to venues managed by Evenko. “This is an industry that relies a lot on relationships, and that takes years to develop,” says Aubé. “Sometimes it’s done through shows or meetings, but the human relations side of it is so important.”
It’s that kind of approach that gave Evenko the chance to bring over artists like U2, Bruno Mars or Madonna to Quebec.
Evenko, A Name That Goes Far
Before becoming what would be considered a household name in entertainment and ticket sales, when Aubé first took on the task of working with the team, it was stilled called Groupe spectacle Gillette. “We had to change the name to highlight the fact that we had a new owner, Geoff Molson,” notes Aubé. The team was guided by LG2 to help create its new identity. The challenge was then to find a name that was bilingual but modern, and that also reflected the spirit of concerts and the entertainment industry. “Even” for “events” and “ko” for “company” were selected, and the image of the xylophone added to it became the symbol that we all now recognized.
The website evenko.ca was then created for ticket sales, and that was a huge step. “We have 1.8 million dollars in ticket sales a year. People know where to get their tickets in Quebec,” says Aubé. “We are the largest independent event promotor in Canada, not because we say we are, but because we sell a lot of tickets!”
Though Evenko is the official promotor of Place Bell’s programming, there wasn’t a large press conference to show off that they are bringing top artists to the city of Laval. “That’s not our style,” says Aubé. “Evenko’s style is to deliver by bringing over great performances. Humility is a virtue that works well with what we do. We aren’t looking to create a false impression with Place Bell. We want to proud of what we’re going to accomplish, whether that’s with hockey games or concerts. That’s our nature.”
Through the growth and success of the company, Evenko launched a foundation two years ago where one dollar for each ticket sold at festivals like Osheaga and Île Sonik goes to the foundation. Since the foundation began, more than 900 thousand dollars have been given to performing arts causes.
Aubé explains that the mandate of the foundation is to give back to the public, whether it’s to donate to a performing arts school or to encourage students to stay in school. Aubé notes that Evenko recently gave musical instruments to a Laval-area school where renown singer Marie-Mai went into person to deliver them. Carey Price brought instruments to Kahnawake, and Coeur de pirate has participated as well. “This is rewarding for us as too,” says Aubé. “I’m really proud that our team has taken this on.”
Place Bell, the Newest Adventure
With the opening of Place Bell, Evenko’s newest adventure is beginning. Having grown up on the North Shore, Aubé is enthusiastic about the new challenge and also the new market it will create. He believes that if Lavallers were able to go to Centre Bell to see shows, a similar scenario could be true for Place Bell. Perhaps all of the Northern regions of Montreal will be attracted to Place Bell, given the high calibre events it offers, such as Cirque du Soleil’s OVO.
By September, Evenko will have seven venues under its management: Centre Bell, Place Bell, Metropolis, L’Astral, Corona and two more which cannot be named at press time. Being the largest independent events producer and promotor, where does Evenko go from here?
Aubé says that the team is staying firmly grounded during this time, to ensure all current projects are given the deserved attention. “We feel a strong responsibility in that regard,” he says. “We have to be successful in bringing solid programming to Place Bell and other venues. It’s important to stay focused, but I have full confidence in my team!”
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