Settled In Shipping: Shattered dreams and shuttered doors

Settled In Shipping: Shattered dreams and shuttered doors

Montreal based musician/blogger David Ryshpan writes about the closing of an open minded Montreal performance space.

Unfortunately, the recent opposition to our request for the Salle de Spectacle permit by principally one local resident is causing our existence as a cultural centre to be called into question.


Noise complaints on St Laurent are fallacious, to me; if you have a place on St Laurent, you should know what that entails. Peace and quiet are to be found on many other streets in the city; The Main isn’t one of them.

It’s like deja vu all over again. It seems to me that the smaller more progressive musical venues are the ones that get shut down by this one noise complainer/permit shuffle because the small venues that book fringe music don’t have the cash to grease the system. The venue dilemma has been getting attention with the recent closing of Tonic in NY, and Marc Ribot’s very public stance on the subject. There has also been an interesting thread on the Chi-Improv mailing list dealing mostly with the qualities needed for a successful venue. One side says low rent is the highest priority, and the other side says cheap funky dives are demeaning to the artists and patrons. Both sides are right to some extent.

Many are supporting public funding of performance venues, and that would be cool, but even public support in the form of clear and stable permits and zoning would be enough to make it possible to run a non-mainstrem venue. The greatest injustice in all os this is that these venues can be allowed to operate (for years sometimes) with no problems, then when one person complains, the government says that the area is not zoned or permitted for that use, but that use has been allowed for long periods of time prior to the complaint. If it wasn’t legal before stupid Leo started complaining, why was it allowed to operate. It makes it look like our cities are selectively enforcing our laws, and that’s not good.

3 thoughts on “Settled In Shipping: Shattered dreams and shuttered doors”

  1. Thanks for the link, Jeff. I remember thinking when Tonic closed, “If this can happen in NYC it doesn’t bode well for any other city in the world.” Unfortunately I was proven right. Montreal, of late, has not been doing well by its arts population (first the closing of CinĂ©ma du Parc, which has now reopened in a slightly tweaked form; the impending closure of Spectrum, the nexus of Jazz Fest and one of the best sounding rooms in the city; and now the possible/probable closure of Main Hall, one of the better presenters of up-and-coming bands).

  2. Well, arts spaces, and clubs in particular can be mercurial. I think that’s just part of their make up, so I never really expect any one space to live too long. It’s when they start closing in a familiar pattern that is government instigated/condoned that it can be troubling for a whole scene.

  3. The pattern is money mostly. Sometimes it’s a small-minded mayor trying to appease rich citizens, but in our case the spectrum has been sold off to open a best buy. I’ll just repeat that: A motherf^*ing Best Buy!

    I actually heard about it not from a musical aquaintance, but an architectural activist. There is a strong community of those who would wish to preserve architectural spaces and who wish to encourage sensible urban planning. Sadly, their strength is in passion and not influence. The aesthetic of the street is completely in jeopardy as the condos that will sit on top of the best buy (just imagine the beauty) will be higher than the adjacent buildings. As the corner sits on the crest of a hill, the ancient and beautiful post-office (now a bank) across the street, the bar on the opposite corner and music plus (our version of mtv) are all likely to be “gentrified” in the name of condo development.

    The last time I was in NY I visited the Meat Packing District where I was able to shop for completely unaffordable shoes and designer jeans. They were shooting a movie nearby and I had no sense whatsoever of the history of the place, the world described by Upton Sinclair in Jungle was completely pastelled over and certainly not mentioned. The Spectrum purchase is roughly the same effect and I’m appalled that no-one is getting as angry about it as I am.

    Ah Jane Jacobs, where are you when we need you? Does your spirit live on anywhere?

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