UXBRIDGE: A change is in the air at the historic Uxbridge Music Hall, as the hall’s board recently requested relaxed policies in the hopes of attracting more shows to the venue.
Music Hall Board member Frank Chown appeared before council at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 6 to discuss proposed changes to the event policy at the historic performing arts centre.
"More stringent requirements were passed in 2008 after incidents at youth concerts at the music hall," explained Mr. Chown.
"We thought that adding police presence would solve the problem, but it ended up having the adverse consequence of having no concerts booked at the hall. All it did was make it uneconomic to have a concert at all with the added $350 expense for pay-duty police officers."
Mr. Chown added that on the rare occasion there has been a concert at the Music Hall over the past five years, police presence has been limited to outside the hall, not inside where incidents occurred in the past.
As well, the policy has been limited to youth events, when according to Mr. Chown, adult events could potentially pose even more of a risk.
"We want to encourage use of the hall amongst youth," added Mr. Chown.
"There are a lot of talented young people in this town, many of whom got their start performing at the Music Hall."
Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor responded by admitting that councils is "guilty of having the pendulum swing from one end to the other." The Mayor also made a point of ensuring that any policy should be inclusive of the entire community.
"We should be treating everybody fairly," said Mayor O’Connor. "Just because you’re a rock band, you shouldn’t have to pay more of a deposit than a symphony."
Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy agreed with Mayor O’Connor’s pitch that there should be one policy for all users.
"We can’t be arbitrary, and have to have a policy that’s consistent for everybody," commented Councillor Molloy, who also pitched the idea of hiring a private security firm as an alternative to police officers as a means of keeping costs down for promoters, while ensuring safety of all attendees and that there is no vandalism done to the Music Hall.
Mr. Chown later pitched an idea to council that would see the Music Hall board craft a list of potential volunteers to act as front of house staff for all events at the Music Hall, and monitor the Hall during shows.
Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast lauded the suggestion.
"It’s a brilliant idea, and very professional. It’s similar to what you find at the theatres in Lindsay and Peterborough," said Councillor Northeast, who later expressed concerns over the scope of responsibility for volunteers.
The report from the Music Hall Board was received for information by council, and councillors were asked to forward their concerns over the changes in event booking policy at the Music Hall to Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis, who will meet with the board in February to present the concerns, and report back to council.
Ms. Svelnis noted the positive role the Music Hall has had on youth in the community over the years, and its important role in the development of burgeoning performing careers amongst local young people.
"There’s a lot of enthusiasm amongst youth in the community to make use of this facility," added Ms. Svelnis.