Moving forward in Mile End: how gentrification is changing Montreal’s music scene

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A few months later, in February 2018, the iconic Mile End café and the Le Cagibi concert hall announcement that because of the rent increases, it would move from its location on St-Laurent and St-Viateur to a space five blocks north on St-Zotique Street in Little Italy. Open for more than 10 years, Cagibi’s vegetarian menu and its small back room stage have made it an inclusive and intimate space for musicians and music lovers.

Divan Orange and Le Cagibi are two small concert halls with numbers under the radar. Like the Mile End gentrifiesIntimate, music spaces like these are being forced out of the neighborhood due to financial hardship. Not only is it a loss for local artists and regulars to shows, but the closure of these venues results in a loss of cultural tradition in Montreal’s vibrant music scene.

In a letter to the cultural site Urbanism, the Divan Orange team cited difficult relations with neighbors, rent and tax increases, and lack of support from public institutions as major factors contributing to the establishment’s closure. More specifically, in 2014, Divan Orange was fine of approximately $ 18,000 following complaints of excessive noise made by a neighbor living above the bar, who allegedly telephoned the police 85 times in two months. In response to the fine, the members of the Divan Orange cooperative launched two crowdfunding campaigns to obtain the financial support needed to reimburse the costs, but this was ultimately not enough to keep the bar afloat.

Julien Senez-Gagnon, spokesperson for the Divan Orange team, explained to the The McGill Tribune that the bar had struggled to survive financially for over a year and that the decision to close permanently was due to a lack of resources.

“We mentioned [online] that our financial situation is untenable, ”said Senez-Gagnon. “The [noise complaints] hurt us very much.

Senez-Gagnon noted that Divan Orange’s monetary problems were indicative of a larger problem that other small venues in Quebec are facing. For example, The circle, a restaurant and concert hall in Quebec City also closed its doors due to financial problems.

“[This] is a systemic problem, ”said Senez-Gagnon. “It’s not unique to Divan Orange. You see little alternative music venues closing. We want [raise awareness] this [other venues like Divan Orange] need support, [whether it be] finance or subsidize. Montreal has such a strong identity towards its culture.

Likewise, Le Cagibi was evicted from its Mile End location due to financial difficulties caused by rent increases. The Montreal Gazette‘s T’cha Dunlevy revealed that the building housing the café changed owners in 2017, and that the new owners increased the rent from $ 3,417 to $ 7,500 per month.

“It’s a huge increase,” Pamela Hart, president of Le Cagibi cooperative, told Dunlevy. “We offered $ 5,000 [for the whole space], corn [the new owners] said that was absolutely not enough.

The building is co-owned by Jeremy Kornbluth and Brandon Shiller, who also own the Jean-Talon Market building where a Starbucks controversially opened in 2015, prompting gentrification complaints, which led to its closure in 2017. Shiller is the son of Stephen Shiller of prominent real estate firm Shiller Lavy Realties, who has now purchased seven commercial properties along iconic St-Viateur Street in the Mile End. According to Dunlevy, Shiller Lavy Realties was instrumental in replacing other small businesses along the street, including Little Pâtisserie & Boulangerie Clarke, which closed in 2015 and was replaced by a chain of restaurants. of sushi.

In the end, Hart explained that the decision to move Le Cagibi was not an easy one. The cafe has been a Mile End staple for years, and it has preserved the history of its space (which was previously Café Esperanza, and before that, a drugstore), using vintage wooden drawers and shelves from its occupants. previous ones. Having lived in Mile End herself for over eight years, Hart is particularly sad to see the neighborhood’s cultural environment change.

“I saw [the] Mile End has changed a lot, ”said Hart. “What we’re looking at right now is basically a small group of men [coming in] and the conservation of our entire neighborhood. Tome, [that] not feeling well.

With its new location, Le Cagibi is making big changes. Not only is its management planning to expand its menu options, but it is also in the process of moving to a work cooperative structure, in which a team of 10 founding members and five board members work collectively to manage the new location rather than having one person in charge. Hart explained that a cooperative would allow employees to have more agency and flexibility in decision-making.

“[The co-op] is much safer for us in the long run, ”Hart explained. “When you have a group of people who are all equally engaged, when everyone’s voice is equal, it allows you a lot of diversity. [and] freedom for individual workers.

The Cagibi also hosts a crowdfunding campaign, seeking $ 35,000 to cover 40 percent of moving costs. Unfortunately, the new space only has one room, leaving live musical performances out of the question for now.

Emmett McCleary, U3 Arts, has performed at Divan Orange and Cagibi. As a musician, he felt the importance of bringing small concert halls to life firsthand.

“The two [Divan Orange and Le Cagibi] are great, ”said McCleary. “The Cagibi in particular. When I started in Montreal it was good because it was incredibly cheap to book […] at $ 75 per night. [As a musician just starting out], you can [easily] delivers shows and performs live. This makes all the bureaucracy [of booking shows] more accessible, and you don’t have to […] know someone who knows someone.

McCleary acknowledged that while McGill students may feel helpless as they watch their favorite cafes and concert halls shut down, it’s important to continue going to see live performances to support both the artists and the venues.

“Keep looking for live music in non-traditional venues and support local music wherever it exists,” McCleary suggested.

Senez-Gagnon and Hart both confirmed that public support for the sites has been overwhelming, with people expressing emotional and financial support through social media and crowdfunding.

“People had [Divan Orange] very close to the heart, ”said Senez-Gagnon. “People really loved it, musicians and the general public. Even when [we] were going through difficult times, the audience has always been there for us. That’s actually what kept us going for so long, to see that support. “

Hart also believes that raising awareness on social media is an important way to support places like Le Cagibi if donating is not an option.

“The community has [really been] there for us, ”Hart said. “[Students can support us by] share our events and come to our shows. We want to see all of our favorite students [at our new location, whether] it’s studying with their laptops or [enjoying] a cup of coffee. We want everyone to feel welcome and invited.

Divan Orange’s last show is scheduled for March 18 and Le Cagibi plans to move in April.

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