Atomique Productions takes on partner; Capital Ballroom has new operator

Two deals were announced Monday that will change the face of live events in Victoria, as the Capital Ballroom comes under new ownership, and the largest event-promotion company on Vancouver Island enters into a partnership.

Vancouver hospitality and entertainment company The MRG Group has taken over the business that operated Yates Street nightclub the Capital Ballroom. The company has also become a partner in Atomique Productions Ltd., the Victoria event-management company behind the Rifflandia and Rock the Shores festivals. Deal terms were not disclosed.

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“It’s not a straight acquisition by any means. It’s more like a beefed-up partnership,” said Nick Blasko of Atomique Productions, who co-founded the concert promotion company with Dimitri Demers in 1999. “It’s business as usual in many ways, but a lot of it is still being worked out. The way it is being structured is a lot more nuanced.”

Atomique Productions produces more than 100 concerts annually, and includes in its event portfolio Rifflandia, Rock the Shores, the Phillips Backyard Weekender and Car Free YYJ, among others.

The MRG Group owns several Vancouver venues, including the Vogue Theatre, the Yale Saloon, the Imperial, and the Biltmore Cabaret. It also owns venues in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. The live-event branch of the company, MRG Concerts, produces more than 800 shows per year.

Rock the Shores and Rifflandia were both cancelled for 2019, but there are plans for Rifflandia to return in 2020.

The timing of the deal will ensure the viability of large-scale Atomique Productions events in the future, Blasko said. “As a company, we are hitting a ceiling in terms of our resources and what we could do with our grassroots approach. It made sense to do it this year.”

Atomique Productions staff, including Blasko and Demers, will stay with the company. “We’re not going away,” Blasko said. “It’s not like they are importing people to run the company. We are going to do what we’ve always done, but it gives us more resources, and all the things [MRG] brings with them.” The MRG Group will take over the Capital Ballroom from an ownership group that includes Blasko and Demers. The lease on the 600-person club at 858 Yates St. changed hands for an unspecified sum.

“Although these are separate acquisitions, my colleagues and I are very proud of the work that we are able to do to set up the city’s première live music venue,” said Dylan Willows, president and director of the group that purchased the Capital Ballroom in 2016. “We look forward to what MRG can do in our growing city.”

Music fans need not worry about the future of events in the city, Blasko said. “What does this mean? It means everything can continue and everything can grow. To Dimitri and I, we look at this as being entirely positive.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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