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Vancouver musicians, venues amplify plea for federal help for Canada's live music scene

Last Updated Jun 22, 2020 at 8:02 pm PST


Vancouver's Mother Mother is one of many bands concerned Canada's venues for live performance will never recover

The newly launched Canadian Independent Venue Coalition is lobbying the federal government for support

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Musicians and music venues are grabbing the mic to ask the feds for help to make sure the live music scene survives the pandemic.

Vancouver’s Mother Mother is one of many bands concerned Canada’s venues for live performance will never recover from COVID-19.

The newly launched Canadian Independent Venue Coalition is asking that independent for-profit music companies be included in the Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.

Their campaign is paritularly concerned with the fate of live performance venues, which were some of the first businesses closed, and will be some of the last to reopen.

“Every independent venue in Canada was silenced by COVID-19. Over 90% will not survive unless they get the help they need. Your favourite artists perform in these rooms seven nights a week. Without them, the very foundation and lifeblood of the entire music industry will collapse,m” according to the website.

“If venues are forced to close their doors for good, musicians will have nowhere to go. No opportunity to hone their craft, build an audience, develop their careers, or make a viable income. No shows, no money, no music.”

Jasmin Parkin with Mother Mother agrees that having a place to play is key.

“These spaces that allow us to gather and share art and time and space with each other,” she says. “There’s a trickle down effect. So, if we don’t have places to gather, places to play in when we tour then we don’t have tours. What that means for bands is not having money to survive

Mo Tarmohamed has been the owner and operator of Vancouver’s Rickshaw theatre for 9 years. He’s seen many bands launch successful careers after coming through his doors.

“Each year we’ve progressively gotten more shows and we’ve become an institution in the Vancouver music scene. 2020 — ironically — was supposed to be our best year ever, and then it came to a grinding halt,” he says.

“We want to make sure that they understand that we are crticial in the live music sector in Canada, and to allocate some money for our sector. Otherwise it’s pretty dire.”

Music historian Aaron Chapman says it’s not just bands that will suffer if venues close.

“The money, the revenue that is being made by any band big or small is all having to do with live touring live touring, that change happened a few years ago,” he says.

“So something like this really hits at the heart of the industry, and people underestimate the amount of jobs at risk — the bartenders the sound techs the security. It’s a sizable industry people don’t often think about.”