Derek Andrews strikes back
Just as news that Harbourfront Centre would not be renewing the contract of long-time music programmer Derek Andrews began circulating last week, Andrews was quietly preparing his response. Last Thursday, October 2, he slapped Harbourfront with a wrongful dismissal suit. According to Andrews, the 19 years he spent booking the most exciting musical acts from around the globe were wrapped up in a single meeting that lasted mere seconds. There was no farewell party.
"They called me into a meeting with my boss (director of community and educational programming) Melanie Fernandez , and the human resources manager on Friday, September 25, at 4:30 pm. Before then, I had no inkling that they wouldn't be renewing my contract.
"My dismissal took about a minute and a half. No handshake or thank you, and no, there was no going-away party.
"There was no severance package, so I'm suing them for wrongful dismissal, which was filed on Thursday after discussing the situation with my lawyer. When they respond, we'll see if we can arrive at a settlement that's amenable to both parties."
Manager of marketing and media relations Bruce Hutchinson sounds surprised when informed of Andrews's legal suit.
"I don't know anything about the lawsuit," he concedes, "so I can't comment. All I can do is reiterate that Derek was on contract, which we decided not to renew to pursue other avenues and other voices."
In the meantime, Andrews is taking a pause to consider his next move. He has been encouraged by the words of support he's been receiving from musicians and industry people since his abrupt Harbourfront exit was made public.
"Most people I've been hearing from say they're stunned and outraged. Everyone has been very supportive. I'm starting to tell folks that I may need some help with a legal defence fundraising event - or two - to offset the cost of my lawyers. This may get expensive.
"Really, I feel privileged to have had the job at Harbourfront. It was a great run, but I feel like I'm ready for something fresh and new. I've been greatly informed by my experience and want to be a stronger advocate for the music community here in Toronto."
Hive Magazine party, October 2
Montreal's Unicorns were the featured attraction at the party for Hive Magazine at the Vatikan last Thursday, but the band's budget-psych vibe was barely audible in most parts of the goth-metal hangout. When audience chatter started drowning out the tunes, Unicorns vocalist/keyboardist Nicholas "Neil" Diamonds decided he'd had enough and leapt offstage into the audience. "I trashed some fucking equipment, attacked a suburban ingrate, threw some fucking metal shit out there and broke our synthesizer," Diamonds admits.
The person who suffered the brunt of Diamonds's attack was just as stunned as everyone else.
"When Nick started telling the audience to 'go fuck yourselves,'" says the Unicorns fan who wishes to be known only as Conrad, "I thought it was just typical Unicorns tongue-in-cheek banter. But then he jumped offstage and attacked me with the microphone stand."
Evidently the attack hasn't soured Conrad on the Unicorns. "I'm actually going to see them next week in Montreal! I just hope they can play without their synthesizer."