Benatar releases photos of substandard stage

Photo of Stage at WalkerFest in Florida Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Photo of Stage at WalkerFest in Florida
Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

INVERNESS, FL – Last Friday Pat Benatar and husband Neil Giraldo refused to perform at the WalkerFest charity benefit for Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors and United Way, after arriving onsite to find the stage unstable.

While CelebrityExaminer contacted several individuals to try and get both sides of the story, we believe not all parties were forthcoming in their statements – leading to, what was admittedly a rather skewed article.

As they say – A picture is worth a thousand words.

Today CelebrityExaminer received two photos from Benatar and Giraldo’s publicist along with a statement.

Read: WalkerFest Benatar makeup show still unscheduled

“Neil and I regret that we had to postpone last Friday night’s show in Florida.  The safety of our fans, crew, and band must always come first.  With the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair a few years ago, staging and production requirements are at an all-time high.  The production and staging requirements were unacceptable.  There simply was no option.  We apologize to everyone who came to see us.  But safety is paramount.  We are working to reschedule the performance.  In the meantime, all monies have been set aside until the show can be played.  Thank you to all who support these three great charities.” – Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo

One photo clearly shows unsupported uprights, with wooden supports attached with c-clamps along the edge of the stage. In another photo, the uprights for the remainder of the stage were not supported in any manner and appeared to be leaning in different directions and not straight up and down as one would expect of a supporting device.

Under stage bracings Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Under stage bracings
Credit: Benatar & Giraldo

Sunday, when we spoke to Deborah Nader of Richard Nader Entertainment, the group responsible for negotiating and hiring Benatar and Giraldo, she said, “Since early in the morning, upon their arrival, they were contacting me wanting to cancel.”

This statement may stem from the extreme concern the crew had when they first arrived on scene to find a stage they considered “substandard staging and unsafe conditions.”

To Benatar and Giraldo’s credit, the crew stuck around for as long as they could to try and salvage the concert.

After we received the photos we contacted Nader again on Wednesday to get her comment regarding the pictures, as of this writing we have not heard back from her.

Jeffrey Carter, a Senior Safety and Regulatory Affairs Consultant, and Retired Chief Deputy Commissioner of Labor & Director at Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA) wrote a letter to the couple thanking them for their “foresight and courage” and “for what was likely a tough decision concerning stage safety and the desire to give your fans what they expect.”

Carter was also lead investigator in the Indiana State Fair collapse that killed seven people and injured 58, just before Sugarland was scheduled to take the stage.

Nader also claimed that a structural engineer had certified the stage at 4:45 p.m. However, there were several caveats, including stopping the show if wind speeds increased above 25 MPH, and large crowds were not allowed onstage. Nader claimed the weather was clear that evening, but weather reports and reports from others at the venue contradict her statement. The forecast was for a chance of rain.

We spoke to the structural engineer, Fred Hilpert of Furman & Hilpert. He did confirm that he was the one to certify the stage, but refused to say anything further on the matter, referring us to Chris Meling of TMC Productions, the company responsible for setting up the stage and bringing in Hilpert to certify. Meling has not returned our calls.

The only outstanding issue is why Benatar and team bailed as soon as they received payment. According to promoter Rick Bartilini, who has been very vocal in his support of Benatar and Giraldo, he said, “She’s entitled to her fee given the promoter breached the terms of the agreement, whether she performed or not.”

To Benatar and Giraldo’s credit, they have committed to rescheduling their performance.

According to Benatar, the fee for the evening’s performance has been placed into a separate account and will be held until the performance takes place, vowing “to reschedule this event with a professional “A” level promoter who will not compromise everyone’s safety!”

“If you really want to help, please don’t ask for refunds….hold on to your tickets and anyone who shows a ticket from this event will be let in free to the make-up show.” Benatar wrote in a statement, “We are sorry to all our fans and the three charity recipients (Wounded Warriors Project, Habitat for Humanity and the United Way) that this unfortunate situation occurred. Everyone loses.”

The bottom-line for us at CelebrityExaminer is Benatar and team made the right decision. In hindsight, we regret writing an article that appeared skewed one way, especially after seeing first-hand what kind of condition the stage was in.

Like we said before – There are always two sides to a story.

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