It always pays to read the fine print, especially when someone is trying to resurrect a commercial failure by latching on to widespread community outpouring following a major disaster.
After the devastating floods in Queensland late last year a number of those in the music industry were spurred into action, including the Big Day Out which donated $20k, EMI who organised an auction of music memorabilia, and the Rock N Roll Auction which raised money by auctioning things like meet and greets with Katy Perry and 10 years entry to the Laneway Festival.
Perhaps most spectacular however was when the Foo Fighters played a special charity gig in Brisbane which raised $770,717 for the Queensland Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. That event was run by Michael Gudinski’s Frontier Touring Company which had external accounting firms conduct a comprehensive audit of the financials which they published on their website.
But not every promoter was that forthcoming. Andrew McManus, who has toured everyone from The Who, Motley Crue, Korn, KISS, and the Backstreet Boys, also held a benefit concert renaming his struggling Ragga Muffin concert in Brisbane to the Reggae For Recovery concert.
The Brisbane date was just one of many of the struggling Ragga Muffin festival tour which was besieged by poor tickets sales and headliner Sean Paul pulling out. Two weeks before the Brisbane concert, McManus announced the change of name and plan to turn the event into a charity fundraiser.
“In response to the devastation in Queensland, Andrew McManus Presents today announces that all profits from Brisbane’s Raggamuffin concert, now a charity event called ‘Reggae For Recovery – Flood Relief Benefit Concert’ — will be donated to the people of Queensland through the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal,” the promoter announced on his website.
“In addition,” he continued, “Andrew McManus Presents is donating 10 per cent of profits from this year’s Raggamuffin shows in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide to the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal. In Perth, 10 per cent of profits will be donated to the Carnarvon Flood Relief Fund.”
It was reported that McManus hoped to raise over $500,000 for flood victims. The Queensland appeal raised more than $270 million in total and individuals and companies that donated over $10,000 were listed on a public register. But McManus and his company are no where to be seen.
The Brisbane Times reached out to the Queensland Premier’s Office for clarification and found out that no money was received from Mr McManus or related entities. The administrators of the Carnarvon Flood Relief fund in Perth have also confirmed that no donation was made.
The revelation raised a number of questions as to why no donation was made given that it was reported that the majority of contractors and artists waived their fee for the benefit concert. When questioned lawyers acting for Andrew McManus made the following statement:
“We are instructed that The Raggamuffin 2011 tour and the Reggae for Recovery concert in Brisbane both lost money. Our client personally met losses arising from the poor attendance levels and there were insufficient funds remaining to distribute to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal.”
The questions began to arise when McManus put the company behind Raggamuffin, Andrew McManus Presents (International) Pty Ltd, into administration in August with debts in excess of $4.2 million. However all assets of any worth, including all his upcoming tours, were quickly transferred to a new company McManus Entertainment prior to administration.
Ragga Muffin’s 2012 series was cancelled although McManus has indicated he plans on returning it to the festival market in 2013.
McManus has been the director of two other Australian companies, including Andrew McManus Management Pty Ltd, that have gone into liquidation, owing $234,000 in 1995 and $269,000 in 2001. In both cases creditors received no compensation.
Earlier this year tour manager Patrick Prendergast sued his former boss for failing to pay $220,000 in commissions from a deal struck that granted Prendergast 10 per cent of the profits of all tours. However McManus had a card up his sleeve.
He argued in court documents that the deal was struck with Andrew McManus Presents Pty Ltd which had ‘ceased trading its business’ after transferring assets to Andrew McManus Presents (International) Pty Ltd, a detail he failed to tell his tour manager. He told the court that the ‘new’ company ‘did not assume any of the debts or liabilities’ of the old one.