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Alberta’s live music venues are in crisis. As an industry centered around gatherings, venues were among the first businesses to close and will be among the last to resume normal operations. Meanwhile, operators are still required to pay significant fixed costs. With little certainty about when live music events will go back to normal, the Canadian Live Music Association anticipates that up to 70% of venues across the country will permanently close without additional support.

Live music venues are a key piece of infrastructure for the province’s music industry, a foundational component and contributor to an industry that produced over $3 billion in economic output in 2017. Music venues need Alberta’s support to maintain this investment so that live music can again be counted on to deliver on the economic recovery of the province post-pandemic. Now, more than ever, live music venues need support to continue making these contributions to our province’s culture and economy when it is time for recovery.

In partnership with venues across the province, West Anthem has been exploring meaningful emergency relief policies that could significantly ease the burden on venues and help live music survive this pandemic.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Expanding the eligibility criteria of provincial and other support programs to include for-profit music venues.
  • Explore programs to insulate venues from increasing operational costs as we work towards recovery.
  • Explore an Alberta Live Music Support Fund to provide emergency relief to venues and artists and financial assistance for pandemic retrofitting.

In the coming months, as the economy begins to recover and venues can present live shows again, venues have suggested additional steps that could be taken to ease the cost of re-opening and strengthen the creative sector to become a pivotal part of Alberta’s economy:

  • Launch a live venue group insurance plan to give venues access to insurance coverage no longer being offered through private insurers during the pandemic.
  • Review Alberta’s conservative capacity limits when it is safe to reopen.
  • Partner with West Anthem to create an economic strategy table on creative industries to facilitate dialog, resource sharing, and stakeholder engagement on growing the sector and maintaining global competitiveness.

Music venues are integral to Alberta’s culture and identity. They are essential gathering places for cultural communities, they bring travel and tourism to Alberta, and they support the attraction and retention of young workers in the province. Venues also contribute to Alberta’s economy through employment, providing starting points for up-and-coming artists, and tourism spending.

In the coming months, West Anthem will continue engaging with Alberta’s music venues to develop creative solutions to the challenges they face. We will be using the hashtag #ValueABVenues to highlight these recommendations and continue dialog on how to support our venue infrastructure.

To join the conversation, please use #ValueABVenues.

For more information, email kaley@westanthem.com.

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