NEWS

Laval's corrupt image scares off choral festival sponsors

06/19/2013 06:30 EDT | Updated 08/19/2013 05:12 EDT
The founder and driving force behind the annual international choral festival that takes place in Laval, Que. each summer says allegations of corruption in Quebec's third-largest city have driven away some of the festival's key sponsors.

Pianist, singer and choir director Gregory Charles says a 30 per cent reduction in corporate sponsorship has forced the Mondial Loto-Québec de Laval music festival to cut its budget by $1.5 million.

"It's not necessarily the best year to associate your name with Laval," says Charles. "Private sponsorship took a beating this year. It's been a challenging year economically."

The city has been rocked by allegations of corruption over the past year.

Long-serving mayor Gilles Vaillancourt was pressured into resigning last November. Then in May, Vaillancourt was arrested on 12 charges, including gangsterism.

Many of Vaillancourt's councillors and former senior city bureaucrats are also facing corruption-related charges. The allegations are so widespread that earlier this month, the provincial governmentplaced the city under trusteeship.

Charles' own Elton John tribute concert postponed to 2014

The Mondial Loto-Québec de Laval festival, which runs to July 7, includes choirs from as far away as Brazil and Cuba and several big draws, from Creedence Clearwater Revisited and Chicago to The Black Keys and Quebec's own Les Cowboys Fringants.

Two major shows — an outdoor concert by Isabelle Boulay and Charles' own tribute to Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — have been put off until next year because of the festival's financial problems.

Aluminum giant Rio Tinto Alcan is among the companies that chose not to support the festival this year. The company did not return calls to the CBC's Radio-Canada to confirm whether the location of the festival played a role in its decision.

Charles says he hopes ticket sales will remain stable and that corporate sponsors will return next year.

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