“Two great symbols of Montreal get together: Les Canadiens and the Montreal Jazz Festival” says Alain Simard when announcing that Spectra—the company producing the Montreal Jazz Festival, and other events—has been acquired by the CH Group (Canadiens de Montréal) which is owned and operated by the Molson family.
By Sergio Martinez
There were rumours about a possible transaction circulating since the summer, in fact Alain Simard president of Spectra confirmed that negotiations were under way for some time before the final announcement came this Tuesday at the Hyatt Hotel, during a press conference presided by Simard and Geoff Molson, from the CH Group.
Simard also said that there were many other suitors for the successful producing company that has brought us the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Francofolies—a French-song festival— and Montréal en Lumière—a unique winter festival that contains music, performing arts, and gastronomy. He was pleased that it is the Molson family which will get this important piece of Montreal show business.
“I must admit that we’ve gotten many offers over the years,” said Simard, who will remain L’Équipe Spectra’s CEO. “However, Geoff Molson’s insightful approach and vision deserved our attention and consideration. The prospect of Spectra’s growth continuing with a Montreal-based group that’s both solid and complementary to our business was a decisive factor for us.”
Simard was also very clear regarding the stability of those working for Spectra: “It will be business as usual,” he said, indicating that the new ownership doesn’t mean any change to the people presently working for Spectra, it will not affect either any of the activities in which Spectra is involved, namely the festivals it created and which it will continue managing.
Spectra is better known for the festivals it organizes which will continue being run as independent not-for-profit organizations, but it also has other subsidiaries and venues such as Spectra Musique, Le Métropolis de Montréal, Spectra Marketing and an important stake in X3 Productions, an international exhibition company.
For his part, Geoff Molson reiterated Simard’s positive remarks about this new alliance: “Our family is very proud to continue investing in Montreal” he said, emphasizing the entrepreneurial role that the Molsons have had in Montreal for the last 200 years.
Of course once the meeting was over it was time for the journalists to engage in some speculations as to the possible consequences of this corporate marriage, the Jazz Festival is certainly a very successful operation and it has been like that for some years now, the other events produced by Spectra are smaller but they have gained strength recently. Generally, the Spectra team has been quite able to deal with the complex world of show business and has created a niche for itself not only in Montreal but also internationally. However, as everyone knows, it takes just one bad move and the whole structure may suffer that’s why an alliance with a powerful source of funding which already has a presence in the show business (Evenko) may prove a good shot in the arm for Spectra.
Then the other question is what long-term effect this may have in terms of concentration of production in just one big player. Some of the French-speaking colleagues pointed to how Quebecor became such a powerful media empire, just by starting to acquire little pieces here and there. We will see whether this alliance—as it has been called by Simard—will be translated into better quality shows in Montreal, as well as greater opportunities for the locally-grown talents in the future.
Picture on top : The Molson family will now be promoting the Montréal Jazz Festival and other major events seeing the accusation of Spectra