Nova Scotia Taxpayers Forced to Foot $600,000 Bill for Paul McCartney Concert

BY Greg PrattPublished Apr 14, 2010

Man, we don't even want to make a "Taxman" joke with this one: word has got out that Paul McCartney's one-off gig in Halifax, Nova Scotia last July was partially funded by Nova Scotia taxpayers without their knowledge.

To help cover McCartney's, uh, $3.5 million fee, taxpayers provided $600,000 for various costs, such as concert marketing and a loan guarantee, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter announced on Tuesday (April 13), reports CBC.

The Halifax Department of Tourism doled out the $600,000, which the department and promoter Harold MacKay of Power Promotions didn't tell the public about at the time.

The NDP were handed the concert deal from the Conservatives when they won the election in June 2009. Part of Nova Scotia's contribution, reports CBC, was a $300,000 loan, which was to be repaid if ticket sales hit a certain undisclosed number, which they didn't. (Strange, because recession-era concerts that cost $136 usually do dynamite sales.)

MacKay wouldn't say what the ticket sales were for the concert, but rejected claims they were only around 26,000, as the Coast reports a source as saying, and said they had a "full house" at the 40,000-seat venue.

On top of that $300,000 loan, the department also put another $300,000 into the concert through "in kind" contributions, such as marketing and advertising. MacKay said the province got their money's worth because of the tax generated from the concert.

On top of the $600,000 the province provided, the City of Halifax put $150,000 towards costs for the concert, mainly for policing and an electrical generator, reports the Coast. This adds up to taxpayer expenditures of $750,000.

Perhaps the biggest issue is the risk involved with the Nova Scotian government cutting a $3.5 million cheque for the promoter to give to McCartney. Luckily, ticket sales covered that $3.5 million. Dexter says if they didn't, the Nova Scotia taxpayers would have had to, reports MSN Entertainment. He also says that he hasn't ruled out doing this kind of investment in concerts in the future, but adds that he does feel caution is necessary.

The Black Eyed Peas have a show coming up at the same venue McCartney played at, the Halifax Common, on July 24. But, don't worry, Nova Scotians: apparently, the government isn't gambling any of your money on that one.

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