Winnipeg concert venue taking performances online during coronavirus pandemic

The West End Cultural Centre. WECC

A staple of Winnipeg’s music scene is making the most of the COVID-19 pandemic by embracing technology in a bid to continue presenting live concerts despite being shut down.

The West End Cultural Centre (WECC) announced a new livestreamed concert series on Monday that will feature some of Manitoba’s finest artists performing live from the WECC stage.

No audience will be in physical attendance, but the venue hopes music fans craving live concerts will be willing to pay $2 for the opportunity to see a professionally produced gig from a real venue — but from the comfort of their own homes.

The Bring Your Own Mic concert series kicks off June 27 with acclaimed Winnipeg indie folk trio Red Moon Road.

READ MORE: Winnipeg musicians make the most of self-isolation with online concerts from home

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Like other venues across the country, the WECC was forced to cancel or reschedule a busy calendar of shows by both local and touring acts due to the coronavirus crisis, and its reopening date remains a question mark.

Although Manitoba is in the midst of an ongoing, phased reopening plan, Premier Brian Pallister has said big public events will be on the back burner.

“I mean, I’m a sports fan and I like a concert once in a while. I think all of us might like to enjoy those things and I think the likelihood of those happening in the distant future is a lot less than for many other things,” he said.
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The WECC’s new concert series will, essentially, turn the venue into a makeshift television studio and feature 100 per cent local talent as well as employing Manitoba staff to make sure everything runs smoothly, both on and off stage.

“We are working to give audiences as close of an in-person show experience as we can,” said WECC artistic co-ordinator Jorge Requena Ramos.

“We knew that there was a way to do livestreaming right for both artists and audiences. We just had to figure out how.”

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