Times are tough for small rooms, canadian music, and their future is uncertain, they have no income.
11 July 2020 17h34
The concert halls always in trouble despite the support of Ottawa
The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Jeff Cohen simply wants his famous Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, survive the pandemic COVID-19.
Over the last few months, the curtains of the stage legendary that has hosted groups such as the Rolling Stones and The Police are closed, and its famous floors in checkerboard pattern immortalized in the clip Bobcaygeon the Tragically Hip are empty.
Like most small music venues in canada, the future is uncertain for the Horseshoe Tavern.
“The industry of entertainment venues in this moment in Canada is on the brink of bankruptcy,” said Jeff Cohen.
“We will probably not be before the end of this year – maybe next year … We have no future income. It is a dark picture.”
With several other owners of concert halls, independent, Jeff Cohen has attempted to make noise to alert the government about the years of worrying to come for the canadian music scene in the hope that the federal government to take more measures.
There was a glimmer of hope Tuesday when the minister for Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, explained the details of a program that allows owners of places to profit, demand a share of the $ 20 million promised to support the music industry in front of public.
The money will be distributed among many industry players, including owners of entertainment venues, concert promoters, the booking agents, managers and music festivals. The funding is part of the second phase of the emergency Fund on the COVID-19 for the cultural industry of $ 500 million, introduced in may.
Anyone who obtains the approval will receive a minimum contribution of $ 5,000 which is expected to last until the end of September.
Beyond the music sector in front of public, the federal government has allocated $ 5 million to the recording industry which will be administered by Musicaction and FACTOR, which specialize in the development and support of canadian music talent.
“The industry of entertainment venues in this moment in Canada is on the brink of bankruptcy ”
Jeff Cohen, Horseshoe Tavern
Erin Benjamin, president of the canadian Association of music on stage, who defends the industry, has called the decision of canadian Heritage to support the premises in a “good start” on which we must build quickly.
“It’s better than nothing,” she said.
“This is going to help some companies for very little time … but it can’t be only that it”
Although Jeff Cohen doesn’t know if he will qualify for a portion of the funding reserved for performance venues, it is skeptical as to how much this would help actually the Horseshoe Tavern.
“I will be able to pay two weeks rent,” said Jeff Cohen, stressing that it was approximately $ 40,000 per month in downtown Toronto.
“It represents something, and we’ll be grateful … but I’m skeptical until I see the payments.”
It is suspected that the performance hall would also not meet some of the requirements described on the Web site Factor. Among them, a place must have booked at least 50% of canadian musicians on his site last year to be eligible.
“The Horseshoe Tavern was open 360 days last year, I don’t think we’ve written, what groups were canadian and which were not. I don’t think we know,” said Jeff Cohen.
“The eligibility criteria have no meaning.”
In Toronto, the municipal council has recently adopted a law that allows landowners to claim tax relief of 50% on the areas that function primarily as places of music before an audience. The intention is that these savings is passed on to the tenants who are still not permitted to reopen.
The music venues in front of public in other canadian cities are at different stages of a process which, according to many, could extend until next year.
Bars in Vancouver have been among the first to reopen, although several clubs in the city have warned that customers could have been exposed to the COVID-19 in the last few weeks.
The concert halls of Montreal have been allowed to re-open legally at the end of June, but the spectators must remain seated and dancing is prohibited.
In Halifax, Karen Spaulding has re-opened the Carleton Music Bar and Grill in the last days of June, but the place is not the same as before.
“It is mid-capacity three days per week instead of five to seven normally, and these are only performances of sound”, she said.
“The world, the public and guests, all are made to feel different.”
The Carleton works as a restaurant, which helped Karen Spaulding to revive the company, although it said that its overall revenue had dropped from 50% to 75%.
But as far as she is concerned about her business, she was also concerned about canadian musicians and the locals who rely on these places to earn their living. This has motivated to look for alternatives when it apprehends a long winter that brings a whole new series of questions.
Karen Spaulding said that she had had conversations with lenders, while having recourse to other government programs that help support its staff. It also seeks to know if it would be interesting to run concerts online which “would put more money in the pockets of artists” over the next few months.
“I will personally make an effort to maintain the site,” she said.
“We believe a lot of the music in front of public”.