COVID-19: The sound of live music to return in Saskatoon

Click to play video: 'CEO of Saskatoon music venue on 1st live show of 2021'
CEO of Saskatoon music venue on 1st live show of 2021
WATCH: TCU Place CEO Tammy Sweeney talks about what it will be like to take that first ticket once COVID-19 public health restrictions loosen – Jun 10, 2021

When TCU Place finally welcomes back its first crowd of 2021, the CEO says it’ll be great to hear music come from the Saskatoon theatre once more, after so many months of silence amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEO Tammy Sweeney said there’s a lot of potential concert activity coming up with the capacity limits for indoor venues expected to increase from 30 to 150 as part of Step 2 of the Saskatchewan government’s “Re-Opening Roadmap.”

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“We have shows starting on the 26th of June. Most of them are tribute shows. So we’re limited right now to Canadian talent, first of all. And we’re at 150 people. That’s all we can put in our theatre, according to the restrictions on Phase 2, which start June 20,” she said via Zoom on Thursday.

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“The people that we get, that we will have coming are going to be … the die-hards that just can’t wait to have music come back.

“So we’ll take that first ticket, will open our doors, big smiles, completely welcome.”

“Even though it’s only 150 people, which is a drop in the bucket for our theatre, it’s still going to be pretty exciting to welcome them back and hear that first note played on the stage. It’s pretty cool.”

TCU Place will kick off its 2021 season with two shows – one tribute to the music of Bob Seger and the other to John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) – both performed by Dan Hare on June 26.

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With current COVID restrictions, the venue is limited to 30 people in the 2,074 seat theatre which is also not able to serve food and beverage.

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“There’s no way we can find people in our theatre or to run a show for 30 people … but once we get to 150 — it’s still a challenge, don’t get me wrong — but we can find some artists that are willing to put on a show and we can make it viable at 150 people,” Sweeney said.

“We’re always curious about how ready consumers will be. We know we’re ready, but will the community be ready? So we’re trying to touch base with our community as often as possible in as many different ways as possible to find out what their comfort level is with returning to live events.

“We’ll still keep the safety protocols, the cleanliness, the sanitization … we may still have some distancing in place as long as we need to make sure that our customers feel comfortable.”

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With the last live musical performance held in November 2020 before capacity restrictions tightened, the 53-year-old venue has been devoid of music.

“It is heartbreaking. I mean, I walk across the stage every day … this theatre is such a magical place and it has such a special place in our hearts for the community as well. I cannot wait to get the music playing again,” Sweeney said.

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Sweeney said they average roughly 75 music/entertainment events annually in the theatre at TCU Place.

“For the remainder of this year — and again, some of them are in various stages of being finalized — but we’ll have between probably 14 … to 20 somewhere in that range between now and the end of the year,” she said.

“Other shows that we can’t talk about yet because we haven’t announced it, but there’s more in the works.”

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On Thursday, the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival announced it’ll return Aug. 7-15 with in-person and virtual performances. Artistic director Kevin Tobin said they’re pleased to bring the summertime event back after postponing in 2020 due to the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“To be able to bring arts, culture and music back to our community and what that means to musicians and means to attendees … trying to save this summer and to get a little closer to that light at the end of the tunnel. It is motivating. It is inspiring,” he said.

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“We’re really excited about putting on a party. We don’t know how big it’s going to be, but … we’re going to get people out. We’re going to get them in front of musicians and we’re going to get them cheering again and we’re really excited to be able to do that.”

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“Jazz Fest is going on. We’re getting some small concerts back. The Exhibition — I’m assuming we’ll have some concerts as part of their lineup — it feels like the energy and that cultural magic in Saskatoon is coming back through the music this summer and really excited to see that,” Sweeney said.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage, visit the Global News coronavirus web page.

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