8 years ago

Volume 11 Issue 3 - November 2005

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New music at the

New music at the crossroads Another moment of truth for Toronto's Music Gallery BY DAVID PERLMA N Sometimes these stories come more easily than others. This one's been the toughest yet. A couple of things I can think of have made it so. FIRST I've talked to so many people these past few days that my head is full . I've talked to Daniel Cooper (the President of the Music Gallery who called the mid­ October meeting that triggered the story). I've talked to David Outgoing Gallery artistic director, Jim Montgomery Parsons, Music Officer at the Ontario Arts Council who attended the meeting along with his counterparts from the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council, all public funders of the Music Gallery. I've talked to half a dozen of the new music community people who came to the meeting to voice unanimous support for the Music Gallery in its present crisis (and a wide range of opinions about everything else). And to three or four who'd have been at the meeting if they could. I've talked to all three of the Gallery's newly appointed artistic codirectors: Montreal's Tim Brady (BradyWorks), Kitchener's Peter Hatch (Open Ears Festival), and Jonathan Bunce (formerly the Gallery's Director of Marketing, and curator of its ground-breaking PopAvant series). And naturally I talked to the man on the cover of the magazine - the person whose only somewhat unexpected resignation after 15 years at the Gallery's helm led to the meeting being called - Jim Montgomery. Usually I do stories about one person or entity - this one couldn't be. I couldn't just talk to Jim. It' s his story for sure, but not just his . Nor just to the Music Gallery people, because there's no way it's just the Music Gallery at this particular crossroads. A SECOND THING making the story tough is that I wasn't at the meeting as a journalist, I was there as a community member. So it's taken a lot longer sorting out what belongs here in the story and what doesn't. Jim Montgomery's resignation is not a secret, and he spoke freely about it to me a week or so after the meeting. "I just can't wait around " he says. What he just can't wait around for any more, is the fulfilment of a twenty year quest - the quest for the establishment of a permanent Toronto centre for the thing he calls creative music practice. He knows what this centre needs to be like, so clearly he can taste it. In fact he's had a taste - at 179 Richmond West, the third of the Music Gallery's four homes in its storied thirty year history. "In our heyday year [1999], just before Guerrilla Gallery, we did 150 events", he says. It's an impressive number - more than three times what remains of the current season now that the Gallery has gone into belttightening crisis mode. But then 179 Richmond got sold to be developed for condos. And the quest for a permanent centre resumed. -~- 179 Richmond Street - the Gallery at its apex? The current Gallery at St George the Martyr - haven or downfall? Last ever Music Gallery event at 179 Richmond Street was July 21-22, 2000, called Guerrilla Gallery: Audio Survival. And, for a season, "Guerrilla Gallery" is what the Music Gallery became - taking its events to far-flung venues across the city. THE GALLERY 'S CURRENT HOME, at St. George the Martyr Church, was one of the venues discovered during the Guerrilla Gallery year. At first glance it was a perfect match (and in some respects it was): a beautiful acoustic space; only as far north of Queen, as 179 Richmond had been to the south. "But how do you maintain the Gallery's role as an incubator - providing performing space to artists on the cutting edge, when you're paying substantial extra dollars every time you use the hall?" I asked. "You've hit the nail on the head" Montgomery replied. "That's why this can't wait. " IRONICALLY , from the perspective of the Gallery's board, that' s also why the quest has to wait. Responding to the Gallery' s major public funders, who in turn have to respond to their political masters (who have to respond to you and me) the Gallery has gone into belttightening mode, forced to cut access and programming as part of a demonstrable commitment to fiscal restraint. The danger is, at what point does it become a bit like selling off so many paintings, to keep a gallery open, that there ends up being no compelling reason to do so . CONTINUES 12 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM N OVEMBE R 1 - DECEM BER 7 2005 Back to Ad Index

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