Graham Edge on Running Mosaic Place: "The Potential is Limitless"
“I’m an optimist at heart and I think the potential is limitless. I still believe someday we will get rid of the subsidy and make our own money,” those are the words of Graham Edge, General Manager of the Downtown Facility and Field House (DFFH).
Edge, who has been at the helm of the DFFH for just three months, sat down for a candid interview with MJ Independent about the past, present and future of the facilities.
Asked about the past controversy which surrounded the facility and the departure of Scott Clark, the former CEO, prior to the release of a Myers, Norris and Penny (MNP), Edge acknowledges he’s read the report. The report showed the results from an investigation MNP had done in which they found Clark had controlled access to information to the board and did not understand his role within the board and with City Council.
In Graham's office; his eyes glanced up to a bookcase where there was a binder that he does not have to open to know its contents; and you can tell it’s the MNP report.
“I have an open book policy. There is never a secret, going forward. It’s easy enough just,” Edge said, adding “we have a very good financial team; they all know what they are doing. They are very ethical and above board.”
Edge said he had no problem showing people the finances, with one exception. Due to confidentiality agreements with performers and promoters he said he couldn’t show the actual deals made for any shows.
As part of this openness, he emailed the most recent financial statements to the media. It’s something that was never done in his predecessor’s tenure.
It’s obvious Edge’s management style differs from his predecessor. His office is with the rest of the staff and not upstairs, where Clark’s was and the dress code and attitude is not the same stuffiness it was during Clark's time.
Asked if it was tough to take on the job of a facility once mired in controversy, Edge said it was a mixed bag.
“In some ways yes and some ways no. We’re lucky to have a talented staff to clean up the after effects…if I had come into this position two weeks after the MNP report, it would have been considerably more messy than it is now,” he said.
Edge likes to point out the facility has turned a major corner, with a search now on-going to add additional board members and instead of the bi-weekly board meeting they will likely run monthly.
“I have to prove myself to a new board. There will be a wider experience of a new board.”
Edge would like to state that Mosaic Place will buy shows if they are the right ones. He would like to dispel any thoughts they are a "for rent" facility only.
“If it doesn’t make sense financially and for the community we’re wasting our time. We will buy shows if it is the right show.”
An example of a show Mosaic Place passed on was Alice Cooper. The price wasn’t right and Cooper has played many times in the area. He will play instead in Estevan.
“Alice Cooper was a little bit too much. We took a pass and Estevan took it. It didn’t suit us, it didn’t fit us but it fit Estevan.”
“We’re looking at the right deal at the right time.”
Edge explained that Mosaic Place could buy a show every month if they chose to but financially it would be simply subsidizing acts.
“We could have a show once a month and support tourism and go to the taxpayer and ask for money,” Edge said, adding “fiscal responsibility and planning go hand-in-hand.”
Reputation and the facilities go a long way to find the best shows for Moose Jaw.
“We have a beautiful facility that’s well maintained…rigging point issues doesn’t hold us back from many things. We have a good reputation in the entertainment industry.”
Edge says he has reached out to his connections in promoters such as Live Nation and others.
“We just have to put ourselves out there and Jodie, our event manager, is working on it.”
Doing the actual deal to book a show is something he’s “seen done a million ways”. But he warns that it's not "easy street".
“There’s a misconception that it’s easy to book a band and there is a lot of money in it. It’s not true…food and beverage make a lot of money.”
Asked about his experiences. Edge says this is the first time he has had the title of General Manager but has run facilities before.
He has plenty of experience in the service industry. He has run a night club. He was a director of the Brandt Centre and Vice President of Food and Beverage. He started working in the box office, which gave him insight into much of the business.
The City has been highly responsive to his arrival.
“The community has been very supportive and I would like to find great entertainment to give back.”
One of the bright spots was the Moose Jaw Warriors strong season and playoff run.
“For the community and the club, I was hoping they would go all the way.”
The Warriors play off run also helped Mosaic Place financially.
“We’re just getting the numbers, as with any WHL building, playoffs are where the teams and buildings do well.”
The Warriors new deal this past year is a win for both sides, he said.
There are many in the community who likewise see potential in the DFFH.
“I have met many progressive thinking people since I have been here and I believe there is an appetite for progress. I believe in the three buildings and the people I live with. Let’s support local business, let’s support downtown business.”