Semiahmoo Peninsula entertainment entrepreneur Bill Brooks says BEC Entertainment’s role as an online streaming provider evolved out of necessity. Contributed photo

Semiahmoo Peninsula entertainment entrepreneur Bill Brooks says BEC Entertainment’s role as an online streaming provider evolved out of necessity. Contributed photo

White Rock event promoter evolves into online presenter

Pandemic strategy has added versatility, Bill Brooks says

There’s no question that the ongoing pandemic has had an effect on local entertainment.

While live performances have been suspended until current gathering restrictions are lifted, Peninsula live event entrepreneurs have either had to cease operations entirely, go into a holding pattern, or look at other ways to connect with audiences.

One of the answers, inevitably, has been to present entertainment content online – such as BEC Entertainment’s ongoing Friday Night Specials series of pay-per-view shows (next up, May 14 at 8 p.m. B.C. time, highlights vocalist, keyboardist and saxophonist Deanna Bogart)

BEC may appear to be a new player in the White Rock and South Surrey online scene, but it’s not really new to the local entertainment scene, as managing director Bill Brooks explained.

And its evolution as an entertainment provider is progressing week by week, he said.

Up until the end of 2019, he said, his company, Everything Liverpool Canada, had been organizing live shows with Fab Fourever (“they’re kind of like our house band”), and promoting tours to Liverpool including venues such as The Cavern, and other sites associated with the Beatles and other Merseyside groups.

Hoping to broaden the appeal by doing more live events in Canada, he changed the name to British Events Canada.

“I wanted to focus on British Invasion-type acts. We were looking at doing one a month in the Ontario market and in the B.C. market. The first one was supposed to be May 8 (2020) in Hamilton.

“On March 10 last year I was looking to put out releases to get some lead-time on promoting the show. And we know what happened then!”

Brooks said he spent much of the rest of 2020 planning for a return to live public shows.

“I kept tuning into the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce online chats, and they kept asking me ‘what are you doing?’ and I kept saying ‘planning for next year,’” he said.

When it became clear that the green light for live concerts was not coming anytime soon, Brooks started looking in earnest at promoting events online, now as BEC Entertainment.

Fortunately, he already had contacts with the Ontario-based online broadcast platform OnViva, which, he said, functions as a “one-stop shop” – not only providing streaming services but also handling all ticketing and reservations for shows.

“They approached me last June about doing online shows and I said I’d think about it – I was waiting to see what happened.”

When they re-established contact in December, OnViva was able to provide even more services – and Brooks was definitely interested.

The only snag has been finding content that didn’t look thrown-together, he said – and recordings of full concerts are rare.

“A lot of bands and acts think they have a full concert show on video, but they’re really a series of clips from here and there, ” he said.

Adding value to that, Brooks started interspersing the acts’ live performance footage with new interviews and introductions with the artists, conducted by BEC’s resident host, veteran broadcaster Barry Forward, which has led to the current Friday Night Special format.

And he’s branching out to provide other shows during the week including a new program, Views of the Blues, focusing on interviews and blues and jazz style performances, being put together by noted L.A.-based guitarist Kal David.

Tickets for the shows are $10, and, after the initial broadcast, each is offered as an archived pay-per-view program, he noted.

There’s also a charitable component to the enterprise, he noted — one dollar from each $10 ticket goes to Music Heals, which supports access to music therapy programs in local communities.

The growing sophistication of his online product doesn’t mean that he has abandoned hope of a return to shows in front of live audiences, Brooks said.

With his enterprise re-branded as BEC Entertainment, he has an even more versatile base from which to proceed, he added.

“When I go back to doing real, live events again, it’ll be known as BEC Live – but I’ll use both names interchangeably on the website,” he said.

For information on BEC’s upcoming shows, visit https://www.onviva.live/en/channel/bec.392



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

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