HALIFAX – Two sponsors have pulled their support from a summer music festival in Halifax after public outcry over the decision to have controversial American R&B singer Chris Brown headline the event.
Halifax-based spa Touch of Radiance announced Monday it was withdrawing its sponsorship of the concert, two days after telecommunications giant Rogers did the same.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, what happened,” said Jose Martins, who co-owns the beauty spa with his wife.
“We just found that his past and what happened with him does not align well with our values as a company.”
Brown, 24, pleaded guilty to assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna in February 2009. He hit, choked and bit the R&B star during an argument in Los Angeles following a pre-Grammy Award party.
He is scheduled to perform at a concert on Aug. 31, but his upcoming visit has already stoked a torrent of criticism on social media and even from the mayor, who told the Halifax Chronicle Herald over the weekend that the idea of someone like Brown performing in the city makes him sick.
The promoter behind the concert said he is not surprised to hear there has been such a backlash. But Stephen Tobin, owner of Drop Entertainment Group, said Brown was invited because of his musical talent and popularity, adding that the company does not condone his past behaviour.
“When you’re dealing with an artist of the size and calibre of Chris Brown, there’s bound to be conflicting opinions,” Tobin said Monday.
“He is as controversial as he is talented, there’s no denying that.”
He said there are thousands of people in the Maritimes who want to see the Grammy Award-winning musician.
“I believe it’s a very slippery slope when we start trying to censor or to dictate who can or cannot perform in this province,” said Tobin.
He said if people do not support Brown, they can simply choose not to buy a concert ticket.
The controversy for Brown is not without precedent.
He was scheduled to perform at a stadium concert last year in Guyana but cancelled after drawing the ire of women’s rights groups and opposition lawmakers in that country over his history of violence.