By Sherina Harris and Emma Sandri
Sesxions, the company that put on Loud Fest, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) winter concert, is not a registered company in Canada. The Eyeopener has not been able to contact anyone from the company, and available information on a domain lookup search was incorrect.
Loud Fest took place at Rebel nightclub in Toronto on Jan. 19. It was headlined by Tory Lanez and also featured Ramriddlz, Rajan and Jordan Solomon.
A motion requesting a breakdown of Loud Fest’s expenses and revenues passed at an emergency Board of Directors (BoD) meeting Feb. 1. At the meeting, student groups director Maklane deWever said it was unusual that Loud Fest was run through a third-party entity without the help of the RSU events committee.
There was $470,000 alloted for the concert, according to the RSU’s 2018-19 budget.
DeWever said the motion that ordered a forensic audit into RSU finances will have a scope wide enough to cover the concert’s expenses.
The Eye used a WHOIS lookup to find who registered the Loud Fest website, loudfestival.ca, which the RSU used to promote the event.
The person who answered the phone…denied any affiliation with the RSU
The website was created in September 2018 and is registered under the name Loud Festival Inc. When The Eye called the office address listed for the company, the concierge said the building was not renting space to any company by that name. A co-working space within the building also confirmed that a company called Loud Festival Inc. had not been using their office.
The administrative contact for the website was listed under the name Charlie Frank, but the person who answered the phone number listed under that name denied any affiliation with the RSU, Loud Festival Inc. or Sesxions Entertainment. The man said he signed up for the phone number in November 2018.
Ecore, a business search service, said Sesxions Canada was registered as a proposed corporate name for a Canadian corporation on Jan. 9, 2019.
A proposed corporate name is a reserved name for 90 days, after which time it expires. It is not the same as having a registered corporation.
Loud Festival Inc. was registered twice as a proposed corporate name— once on Sept. 8, 2018 and again on Jan. 9, 2019, according to an ecore employee. The date of the concert was announced Jan. 11.
A preliminary search on the business name registration database Nuans gave the same information.
In January, RSU president Ram Ganesh told The Eye that Sesxions owned and operated the Loud Festival brand. Ganesh did not respond to request for comment for this story.
Ganesh told The Eye in January that INK Entertainment worked on production and show management.
Orin Bristol, INK’s director of venue operations, said he met with a man who represented Sesxions. According to Bristol, the man is a DJ who works in the industry, but didn’t have previous event-planning experience. The payment to INK came through Sesxions, he said.
“He’s not a person that puts together big festivals, but neither is anybody who’s done this for RSU in the past,” Bristol said.
At the Feb. 1 meeting, Dharshini Jay, the union’s financial controller, said the RSU made two payments totalling $300,000 to a company that she called Lit—which is what the concert is listed as in the budget.
Jay said she was asked to make a third payment of $100,000 plus taxes in December to a company called Sesxions. This brought the total spent to $415,000, she said. She said when she asked why the payment was going to a different company, she was told that the first company’s website was hacked and that Sesxions was the company’s new name.
Jay did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication when asked who told her to make the payments.
When the board approved the union’s budget at the beginning of the year they approved the finances to go toward Lit Fest—the name of the concert in the budget—not Loud Fest, the name of the concert that actually happened, according to Chelsea Davenport, a Faculty of Community Services director.
Alessandro Cunsolo, a Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science director, said while using a third party may have helped the event be successful, it would have been more transparent to include the BoD in the planning process.
Jay said Ganesh estimated the concert would bring in $50,000-$60,000 in ticket sales, but added she can’t confirm this as she hasn’t received the money yet. She also said Ganesh expected $350,000 in sponsorships for the concert, but nothing came through.
Tickets for the event were sold through an event management website called Universe.
The three executives present at the Feb. 1
emergency meeting—vice-president operations Savreen Gosal, vice-president student life and events Edmund Sofo and vice-president equity Karolina Surowiec—all said they did not have the login information for Universe.
Sofo said Ganesh was the third party’s point of contact for the event. When asked by a student at the meeting why the president was more responsible for the concert than the vice-president student life and events, Sofo said the president has the opportunity to oversee any portfolio or project within the RSU.
It would have been more transparent to include the BoD
Management for Ramriddlz said that they had asked to contact Sesxions on the phone. They never received a phone number and said everything was done through email. Management for Rajan also said they were contacted through email. The Eye reached out to that email address, as well as one provided by Ganesh in January, and received no response.
Management for Tory Lanez and Jordan Solomon did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. Rebel also did not respond.
In 2017, The Eye reported that some student money dedicated to 6 Fest refunds not only went into executive’s personal bank accounts, but also into a private business account owned by Ganesh, called MERCH.
At the time, Ganesh could not comment on how much of the student refund money was in the account. He was not an RSU employee when he owned the business.
When the BoD passed a motion ordering an audit into the finances for 6 Fest, where $79,996.81 was transferred into then-vice-president student life and events Harman Singh’s personal bank account, no action was taken until the new executive assumed office.
Susanne Nyaga, the following years’ RSU president, said her team had no obligation to follow through on a motion passed by the previous BoD.
With files from Raneem Alozzi and Sarah Krichel.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that deWever and Faculty of Community Services director Cristal Hines said at the Feb. 1 BoD meeting that the RSU hiring a third-party violated RSU bylaws. DeWever and Hines did not say this. A previous version also stated that the emergency BoD meeting took place on Feb. 4. The meeting took place Feb. 1. The Eye regrets the errors.