A popular inclusive music festival just recently had their venue pulled out from under them, leaving organizers scrambling.
Toronto’s Venus Fest in on a mission to give big platforms to new voices and eliminate gender disparities. The not-for-profit music festival does this by creating an inclusive space for a lineup of Indigenous, Canadian and international performers.
This year’s festival is slated to finally take place in person again in less than a month, but there was recently a major snafu with their venue, even after they announced their programming.
The returning festival was expected to take place at 72 Perth, a space in the Junction Triangle that’s going to turn into a mid-rise residential building. It was recently a venue for the Toronto Biennial, with the art event acknowledging it might be the space’s final creative tenant.
Castlepoint Numa is the developer for 72 Perth.
“While there was no formally signed document, the contact our AD was dealing with asked for documentation including a certificate of insurance, mailing address for the license agreement/invoice, which was all provided and [the contact] said she was preparing the licensing agreement to send over,” Venus Fest publicist Kat Cooper tells blogTO.
“When our AD followed up after a couple of weeks, that contact was no longer with the company. When she reached out to the new Castlepoint contact that was noted in the auto reply, she was unceremoniously informed that ‘all scheduling and commitments are on hold at the moment.'”
The AD pushed back, and while they were continuously informed that 72 Perth was no longer available, they were offered alternate venue accommodations, but Cooper says they were nowhere near their expectations. They were offered an outdoor venue on Weston Road in North York.
“Needless to say an outdoor venue for a mid-October art and music event was not a reasonable substitute, not to mention the inaccessible location for a Toronto arts festival, and the fact that the venue they offered is an undeveloped lot in North York,” says Cooper.
“A far cry from a historical loft space in the Junction Triangle. “
Jeff Brenner of Castlepoint Numa tells blogTO that Venus Fest was in contact with one of their employees mid-July, but that the festival didn’t follow up with them from July 12 to August 11, when the fest asked about having a contract sent over. At that point, they were notified the festival could not be accommodated.
“The situation with Venus Fest 2022 is unfortunate, however the promotion of an event at our venue with no contract in-place is beyond our control,” Brenner tells blogTO.
“It’s important to clarify, there was never an agreement in place. In fact, it never progressed to a point where even a draft agreement was circulated where specific details of any arrangement would be clarified, including use, beneficiaries, capacity, insurance and life safety measures, amongst other matters.”
Brenner confirms that the organizers declined the alternate venue.
“Who hasn’t been jerked around by a business/business owner, landlord at some point? I know I definitely have a few examples of times where I put my faith in someone’s word, and written word at that, only to have them argue/renege and try to get off on a technicality,” says Cooper.
“This was actually the second venue to fall through for Venus Fest as well which I think speaks to the increasing instability in this city for small organizations right now.”
Fortunately, this problem had a poetic solution: Venus Fest will now be one of the first ever events to take place in a brand new, highly anticipated venue championing Black, Indigenous and racialized artists, run by non-profit It’s OK*.
“Venus Fest is proud and grateful to be one of the first events in their all-new space. It’s kind of beautiful,” says Cooper.
“I think our experience is a good example of the challenges of not-for-profits and particularly arts organizations in the wake of aggressive residential redevelopment in a profit-driven society, while also highlighting the sense of community and support that exists between organizations like ours as we try to keep the arts alive and accessible.”
Venus Fest will now be taking place at 468 Queen St. W. from October 14 t0 16.