Edmonton arts venue forced to close its doors

WATCH ABOVE: The arts community is reeling after learning a beloved music venue will be shutting its doors. Kendra Slugoski explains.

EDMONTON – The Artery, an arts space and live music venue in downtown Edmonton, must vacate and close by March 31.

In a post on Facebook, the owners said the city deemed the building – located at 95 Street and Jasper Avenue – structurally unsound.

“We, the strong art and music community, have been hit with some devastating news,” the post reads.

Now, The Artery is planning an exit strategy and is looking for a new venue.

“This will be a massive challenge as we do not have a lot of time nor money. However, we’re a strong team and will pull together and persevere. Were facing this challenge with positivity and optimism,” the post reads.

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Philip writes the group is thanking everyone who helped along the way and is moving forward.

The city says it’s in the process of purchasing the property for the Valley Line LRT project. It is scheduled to take possession March 3. As part of the acquisition, the buildings were assessed and The Artery was found to have structural issues. The city says The Artery was leasing the property and the lease expires March 31 so it is honouring the lease until that time.

“We hope to continue to talk with The Artery about relocation issues,” said a city spokeswoman.

The city councillor for the ward is upset about how the closure was handled.

“I would’ve liked to have known ahead of time,” said Scott McKeen. “That’s a beloved arts venue in the ward I represent.”

“I think it was done in a ham-handed way. There was no consideration of The Artery itself I think we should have been giving them much more of a heads up and then working with them to see if there are potential venues in town where we could have helped facilitate a move.”

“Badly, badly handled by administration and I’m not very happy about that.”

McKeen said he’s contacted city administration to see if there are other options for the venue or if the city can help find a new space.

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The news comes nearly two months after the Roxy Theatre was destroyed by fire.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Roxy Theatre goes up in flames 

It has members of the Edmonton arts community worried about the future.

“I don’t think it was a terribly surprising occurrence,” said art supporter and blogger Ben Freeland. “First of all, it is an older building and these types of things happen. Also … that there have been so many arts venues closing in this city.”

Freeland hopes this latest closure will spark a movement where people will rally behind the local arts community, restore older venues and create new ones.

“I think people are starting to connect the dots and realize we have this incredible arts scene and we have this huge wealth of talented artists and a public that really supports the arts and yet we are steadily losing venues.”

McKeen says it’s time to stop the bleeding.

“You don’t want this kind of limp-along situation where great acts are then off to Toronto or Montreal to further their career. I’d like to think we can foster great musicians here,” he said.

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“We have to create a culture of live music in Edmonton.”

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