Some Winnipeggers are urging others to boycott American R&B singer Chris Brown's concert next month, and instead go to a rival concert in support of a local women's shelter.
Loving Hands Don't Hit is a local counter-concert being slated for Aug. 29 — on the same night as Brown's concert at the MTS Centre — with proceeds going to Osborne House.
Organizers and supporters of the event disapprove of Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting singer and then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009.
Ari Driver, who owns Perfume Paradise in downtown Winnipeg, says she received an email asking if she would consider sponsoring Brown's concert.
"I wrote an email back telling them that I'd rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick than have anything to do with this concert," she told CBC News on Tuesday.
"We have to speak up for people that don't have a voice. And if this is how it has to be done, this is how it has to be done. And I will do whatever it takes to stop this concert from happening."
Driver said she provides sexual assault crisis counselling at Klinic on weekends.
Susie Erjavec Parker, who is organizing Loving Hands Don't Hit, said she wants to give people an opportunity to give their money to a worthy cause rather than buy tickets for Brown's concert.
She put out a call on social media for anyone wishing to donate a venue for her event to raise money for Osborne House. Her post on Twitter attracted a dozen retweets within 15 minutes.
"It kind of occurred to me … this could be something. We could do something positive that day." she told CBC News.
Academy Lanes, a bowling alley on Academy Road, has offered to host the counter-concert, Erjavec Parker said.
"It snowballed from there," she said. "It was just crazy. It was fantastic."
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people — including some Manitobans — have signed a Halifax woman's online petition to stop Brown from performing in Dartmouth, N.S., on Aug. 31.
Launched on Saturday, the petition calls on Drop Entertainment Group, a Halifax radio station and others to drop Brown as the concert's headlining act.
"Chris Brown is as well known for his violent beating of his former girlfriend Rihanna and temper tantrums as for his musical career," the petition states in part.
"As a resident of Halifax, I believe it reflects poorly on our city to not only host such an artist, but to make him the headliner of this show. It says that as a city, we do not care for domestic abuse as long as you can write a catchy dance song."
Four corporate sponsors, including Molson Coors Brewing Co. and communications giant Rogers, have already withdrawn their sponsorship of the show.
In Winnipeg, Kelcy Beirnes has started a similar online petition, hoping to get at least 12,000 signatures.
"There are dozens of acts out there that are just as popular as Chris Brown, if not more popular, that somehow manage to make great music and not get in trouble with the law constantly," Beirnes said.
Show's going ahead, says promoter
Stephen Tobin of Drop Entertainment Group, which is promoting Brown's concert, said he had not expected a backlash to Brown's concerts, but he said the shows will go on.
"In no way shape or form do we condone any of Chris Brown's past behaviours or endeavours," Tobin told CBC News.
"We are simply focused on the fact that Chris is a multi-platinum award-winning artist of international calibre, and we are excited to welcome him to Canada."
Tobin added that people will always have mixed opinions of well-known artists like Brown.
"Their participation or non-participation does not impact our ability to be able to execute that show in its fullest capacity. So we're moving ahead, and we're moving ahead quite positively," he said.
"In fact, we've had some other sponsors reach out to us with interest."
Tickets for Brown's concert in Winnipeg go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. and range in price between $49.50 and $149.50.