People on the Move: Ali Shafaee joins Live Nation Canada to grow local concert, festival scene

Ali Shafaee plans to "add things that the Ottawa market needs in order to compete with the larger markets in Canada" in his new role.

Live Nation Canada, the country’s leading live entertainment company, has expanded its team with new senior leadership in its Ottawa office, announcing award-winning music festival promoter Ali Shafaee as its regional vice-president.

Shafaee is best known for being the director of DNA Live and co-founder of the Escapade Music Festival. In 2019, the electronic dance music festival tied as Event of the Year at the Ottawa Tourism Awards and, that same year, Shafaee was named one of the top Forty Under Forty winners by the Ottawa business community.

Alex Primeau, formerly the logistics manager and artists liaison for DNA Live, has also joined Live Nation Canada to work closely with Shafaee as project manager. 

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Shafaee said his goal at Live Nation Canada is to help Ottawa’s concert and music festival scene reach its full potential. “I’ve always believed that there’s a ton of opportunity for growth here.”

Ottawa has a healthy appetite for summer music festivals and live music, said Shafaee, noting that Live Nation Canada is enjoying a record year in Ottawa, with its highest number of concerts ever in local arenas.

“The plan with me is to continue to grow that in 2024,” said Shafaee. “Our focus will really be in adding things that the Ottawa market needs in order to compete with the larger markets in Canada.”

Toronto-based Live Nation Canada recently opened a new office in the ByWard Market. “It really shows the commitment that the company is making,” said Shafaee of its efforts to build its team in the nation’s capital. 

“We’ve got some announcements that will be coming very shortly in terms of some things that we’re doing.”

In 2018, Escapade entered into a partnership with Live Nation Canada, which is part of the Beverly Hills-based global entertainment company Live Nation. Live Nation Canada acquired a majority stake in Escapade last year.

“They’re the largest music concert producer in the world; bringing them onboard as a partner really helped the (Escapade) festival to get to the level that it is now, which is at an all-time high in terms of attendance and overall experiences.”

Escapade returns June 23 to 25 to Lansdowne Park. The sold-out event is expected to draw as many as 70,000 young people over three days.

“Escapade has been established as a weekend where people come from all over the country, and even globally. They leave, basically, having made new friends, having had an unbelievable experience.

“For us, that’s a win.”

Shafaee has essentially built a career out of showing people a good time. The graduate of Sir Robert Borden High School started in the event management and promotion industry at age 18. He was part of a travel business that ran spring break and graduation trips for thousands of high school students each year. 

“The idea was to take high school kids, bring them down south and show them the best week of their entire lives that they’ll remember.”

Shafaee arranged concerts on the beach and hired DJs to spin tunes inside the hotels. Over time, he used his skills and expertise to begin creating music events in his hometown of Ottawa. 

In 2010, Shafaee and his business partners co-founded the Escapade Music Festival and DNA Live, an event management and promotion company that would grow to organize more than 100 events a year, including festivals, concerts and corporate/private events.

“When we first started, everyone had real jobs and we did DNA on the side. It became more of a, ‘Do I want to stay with my real job’ or, ‘Do I want to put my eggs into the DNA basket?’”

DNA was in Shafaee’s genes. He stuck with event management and promotions because it was such a part of his identity.

“I love music, of course, but I also love creating experiences,” said Shafaee, who gets great satisfaction in seeing people leave “with smiles on their faces and feeling like they had a great time.”

As for DNA Live, it’s still active and thriving, said Shafaee. 

He said it will continue to be operated by another partner and will focus on the growth of its non-live music events in Ottawa, including the Crave Food and Wine Show, the Halloween-themed Deadwood Haunted Drive (created during the pandemic and held at Wesley Clover Park) and other soon-to-be-launched projects that will target all ages and demographics.

Also on the move in Ottawa

Senior marketing and communications executive Veronica Farmer is the new vice-president of marketing for Wesley Clover, responsible for all aspects related to the promotion and management of the Wesley Clover International brand. Farmer was most recently with the University of Ottawa as its director of innovation and partnerships based out of its satellite campus in Kanata North. Also, she was an executive in residence, advising tech entrepreneurs in the Startup Garage program led by the university‘s Entrepreneurship Hub to foster and support entrepreneurship. Farmer remains active with TEDxKanata and a board member with the Dare To Be Vulnerable project. At Wesley Clover, she takes over from Steve Langford, who, according to his LinkedIn account, is now “Happily Unemployed” and “No Longer Working” while he instead focuses on his “platinum” years.

Global technology company Alludo (formerly Corel) has appointed Pablo Gargiulo as its new chief revenue officer. With more than 20 years of leading global go-to-market roles, including key roles as CRO at Aircall and VP of sales for LogMeIn, Gargiulo brings a rich background in tech and telco to Alludo, the company stated in its release. His expertise in serving partners, enterprise and SMB customers, M&A, and high-velocity sales also aligns with Alludo’s growth path. Alludo, a software company headquartered in Ottawa, specializes in graphics processing and is behind such brands as Parallels®️, CorelDRAW®️, MindManager®️, and WinZip®️.

Michael Maidment has been named the president and CEO of Ottawa Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that connects donors with causes that matter to them and serves as a trusted resource for addressing issues and leveraging opportunities in the community. It attracts and manages a growing endowment, the invested earnings of which provide grants to charitable organizations. In 2022, the OCF granted more than $15 million to approximately 900 organizations. Maidment has been chief executive of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and Ottawa Food Bank. He brings extensive experience in the local non-profit sector, in-depth community knowledge and innovative leadership skills to his new role, the OCF stated in its media release.

Emily Jamieson has joined the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Foundation as its new vice-president of corporate philanthropy and community engagement. Jamieson had been with Scouts Canada for eight years and previously worked for the Information and Communications Technology Council. She remains active in her volunteer leadership role with Family Services Ottawa, a non-profit social services agency that provides counselling, educational workshops and support programs.

Jessie-Lee Wallace has joined the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation as its senior manager of communications. Wallace was most recently director of major gifts and communications for BGC Ottawa. She’s also worked for Cornerstone Housing for Women, CARE, Philanthropic Counsel and CHEO. Wallace is also a volunteer board member with HelpAge Canada and Daybreak Non-Profit Housing.

Hats Off

Tourism industry expert and educator Altaf Sovani, founder & CEO of Alzen Consulting, has been named one of the 30 Most Influential Educators in Global Hospitality by the International Hospitality Institute. Sovani is the former academic chair of the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Algonquin College and also author of Labor Crisis in Hospitality, Tourism & Event Industry: Finding Innovative Solutions for Recruitment and Retention of Millennials. The award recognizes 30 scholars across the globe who are advancing hospitality education.

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