“Dear Edmonton: please get your act together and stop shutting every good thing down.”
It’s a comment that has been on repeat since the levelling of the venerated Sidetrack Café. And the Haven Social Club and Elevation Room and the Edmonton Events Centre and New City. But today, that quote rested above every shared article explaining that the Artery would be shutting down.
For those caught unawares, The City (full-caps and italics for villainous effect) has deemed the Artery building structurally suspect, and have ordered the immediate evacuation of the venue. This came from Artery owner and manager, Philip Muz, who later clarified in an interview with CKUA radio that The City had purchased the building to make room for the Valley LRT line (credit to the Edmonton Journal for posting the update).
First and foremost: Sorry Phil. This didn’t deserve to happen to you, let alone on such short notice. The outcry of people across the city speaks to what the Artery was in our small but plucky music scene. From conversation and personal experience, I can speak for a city of musicians who looked forward to playing the Artery for its aesthetic, sound quality (one of the best in the city), and the professionalism with which each show was approached. And, as I’m sure several others agree, this is just a building, and we all know that you and your team are going to raise up another venue that’s even better than what will be soon be passing. What you’ve done has meant the world to so many musicians and music fans, and we have all the faith in the world in you.
[Speaking of “next projects,” I’d like to address the idea of having the Artery join with McDougall church, who is currently looking for a tenant to support itself lest it be closed down as well. It won’t work. Without alcohol sales, which I doubt the church is licensed to provide, the venue would have no sustainable method to make the amount required to stay open. Period. Consistently hosting larger shows is an option, but acts like Bahamas who can make appropriate use of the space while generating that kind of interest are few and fair between.]
The reason I wanted to write this is because of the consistent blame fest that follows these incidents. I’d call it vomiting, but at least you feel better when you’re done throwing up. Instead what’s left is the communal disgust that Edmonton is to blame, and the perfect opportunity to discuss “Why has another much-loved, much-supported music venue had to close its doors?” is thrown out. Dismissed. “There’s a cancer in our city!” And then we sit and ignore it and let the metastasis continue.
So this time, let’s get out the scalpel of hard truths and open‘er up.
Continued on page 2.