Winnipeg concert halls seek light at end of COVID-19 tunnel – Winnipeg
As restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue in Manitoba, all industries have been affected in one way or another, but concert halls remain among the hardest hit – going through months of revenue zero with no definite sign of change on the immediate horizon.
“It’s a very difficult time – effectively being closed for nine months and counting now, not being able to have any live shows,” said Park Theater owner Erick Casselman.
“You’re losing between $ 16,000 and over $ 30,000 a month in spending… How long can you keep going, right? “
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Casselman, whose South Osborne site began life as a cinema more than a century ago, told 680 CJOB he had received grants to help keep the park afloat through from FACTOR (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records) and Canadian Heritage, but it’s still an unprecedented challenge for venues across the city.
“You just have to rush and decide what you want to do … and in my case it’s just about taking loans and getting into debt, knowing that – hopefully – there is a light at the end of the tunnel. for soon.
“We’ve already lost the Garrick Theater here in the city, which is a huge blow to live music. Even though a lot of us go through this with a limp, there will still be costs of ownership and daily costs to move forward, ”he said.
“We’ll likely see more lost sites here in Winnipeg, and we already have too few to begin with. “
Pyramid Cabaret owner David McKeigan told 680 CJOB he was in the same boat.
“We are trying to do what we can to prepare for the future,” he said. “We are optimistic we are not going to close at the end.”
McKeigan’s situation was made worse by the fact that the Pyramid had also taken possession of the Royal Albert and was preparing to reopen the iconic venue in the Exchange District when the lockdown hit.
“We worked there, trying to prepare for a possible opening,” he said.
“It looked like we were almost ready to open, then all of a sudden the second stop came.”
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McKeigan, who has worked in the industry for nearly four decades, said another frustration is that because the Pyramid does not rent or lease its building, it does not qualify for the type of relief program. rent or mortgage that other companies have been. to be able to take advantage of it.
During this time, he is forced to pay interest on bills without any income.
“We own the building, so we weren’t entitled to anything – yet the city and province, which received school and property taxes, were waiting for full payment.
“I would love to see a program where they say, ‘Look, worry about interest later. “”
Despite the uncertainty, he said he was optimistic about a light at the end of the tunnel, and that live music is something everyone has missed in isolation, so I hope the audience – and artists – will return when it is safe to do so.
“Everyone is affected on many, many levels. We will be happy to start over.
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