Small theaters condemned to organize

With the upcoming closure of the Divan Orange in Montreal and the recent closure of the Cercle in Quebec City, the small venues of alternative shows would be doomed to organize if they wish to survive the next few years.

This is at least the opinion of Jon Weisz of the artist development firm Indie Montreal, who participated Monday in a discussion on alternative venues in the margins of the activities of the Bourse RIDEAU in Quebec City.

“Through our agency shows, it is increasingly obvious that the small venues of Quebec have difficulties and will close all if something does not happen. Most of them work as volunteers on the cultural side, “says Weisz, who decided a few months ago to try to bring these small rooms to form an association.

“I contacted a dozen rooms and several were interested. The association would be the SMAQ for Alternative Music Scenes from Quebec. We also have good discussions with the Bourse RIDEAU and the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles [SODEC] of Quebec, “he continues.

Mr. Weisz does not wish his association to affect only the halls of the city, but also those of Quebec and the regions. “We do not want to focus solely on Montreal. Eventually, we would aim to have a weight that would help ensure the future of small rooms. You know, in France, small rooms are very subsidized. ”

Lack of support

Several participants in the discussion deplored the lack of support received by these small venues in Quebec and the competition received from municipalities and their broadcasters. “I’m often told that I’m” just a bar, “says Sébastien Cummings, from Les Pas Perdus room in Îles-de-la-Madeleine. “But the profits from the restaurant and the bar often finance the theater!”

“One day, my Town did a free 5 to 7 in front of my school with the same band that was playing at my house six days later … People saw the Marquise where I was announcing the show,” says Cummings, who also deplores the unfair competition of some festivals. “My competitors should have the same requirements as me, and that’s not the case when we see festivals that hire underpaid people who do not report their tips!”

Joëlle Turcotte, co-owner of Zaricot de Saint-Hyacinthe, goes further. “In front of the City, which has a regional hall that works with its own broadcaster, we are like a thorn in their foot. We are like a nuisance. They have no interest in us, “she laments.

Most of the participants in the discussion also wanted a change in the legal status of these small theaters. “For example, if we could organize shows for minors without selling alcohol,” said Marie-Eve Bouchard, Club Soda in Montreal.

Not paying

Several bar owners have also pointed out that they would make more money by … stopping presenting shows. “I have a cafe, a bar, a restaurant and an auditorium and tomorrow, if I stop doing shows , I have more money in my pockets,” said a young businessman from Frelighsburg .

Karl-Emmanuel Picard, co-owner of the bar L’Anti in Quebec, was in the same vein. “I was making more money before buying a show bar,” said the owner of the District 7 show promoter.

Julien Senez-Gagnon, one of the communications managers at Divan Orange, for his part, stressed the difficulty of organizing for these small institutions. “We would like, for example, to get together to make beer purchases, but the financial precariousness of our institutions is an obstacle to the organization,” he summarized.

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