Broken Social Scene, METZ Call on the Government to Support Canadian Venues

Indie venues across the country are facing possible extinction due to coronavirus lockdowns

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jun 18, 2020

Exclaim! recently spoke with several Canadian venues about the "draining, stressful experience" of trying to remain in business during coronavirus lockdown. Now, with this crucial element of the Canadian music ecosystem under threat, venues and artists have upped their efforts to rally the government for support.

The campaign is spearheaded by the Canadian Independent Venue Coalition (CIVC) — the same group Exclaim! spoke with for the aforementioned feature. The movement is hashtagged #SupportCanadianVenues (#SoutenezNosScènes in French), and they've got cosigns from some notable Canadian musicians.

"The Ministry of Heritage needs to see this music industry as an important aspect of Canadian culture, and we're just looking for some guidance, and most importantly some support," Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene said in a statement.

Chris Slorach of METZ added, "I spent most of my life growing up in these smaller venues playing shows, learning how to be a better band. And I think that they're super important for the culture landscape, of at least my own city Toronto, and many other places. I think they deserve support, we need to help our independent venues because they'll continue to help us."

Desiree Das Gupta of Toronto psych band Kaleidoscope Horse said, "Art and culture is the very reason why people choose to live here, it brings them joy, we are the lifeblood of this community and it these venues don't survive this pandemic, as a nation there will be no place for us to gather emotionally and creatively."

The goal of the campaign is for fans and artists to continue to voice their support for independent venues, and to lobby politicians to provide financial aid. Venues are going to be among the last things to reopen once the pandemic is over, and research suggests that over 90 percent of indie venues across the country could close within months, without assistance.

Shaun Bowring, owner of Toronto venues the Garrison and the Baby G, recently told Exclaim!: "Small venues act as proving grounds for artists. Without those venues, that system collapses."

The CIVC's website details some actions that fans can take, including writing to local politicians.

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