By Gurman Sahota, June 16, 2017 —
After Councillor Evan Wooley fought to save the McHugh House — Calgary’s sixth oldest home — from demolition, CJSW 90.9 FM and the Beltline Neighbourhood Association (BNA) partnered together to refurbish the historic building into an all-ages venue.
CJSW community development coordinator Kendra Scanlon says there’s a lack of all-ages venues around the city. She says a guiding principle in creating the venue was to make a safe, alcohol-free space.
“I know for myself as a 16-year-old, there was a limited opportunity to participate and that was when I was really getting into music,” Scanlon says. “So we’re hoping that by bolstering an all-ages scene, this will allow people to participate and enjoy something that we all enjoy as adults.”
Scanlon says having a dedicated all-ages space is vital for Calgary’s growing music culture. By serving as a venue for the youth crowd, McHugh House hopes to attract youth performers and those who are interested in programming for an all-ages group.
The process to acquire the building was relatively quick. CJSW programmer and BNA president Peter Oliver helped facilitate the transition of the McHugh House to an all-ages venue. However, what initially started the acquisition was CJSW’s annual funding drive, which set the goal of starting a gear-loan program for youth.
“The idea being is that we broke down a barrier to entry for youth that are interested in throwing shows or people that are interested in throwing shows for youth,” Scanlon says. “And to emphasize the importance that we place on music, we really want to open those gates and welcome people in earlier.”
The venue will host small-scale events of approximately 60 people. Currently, the focus is on summer programming and enriching the burgeoning youth music scene.
“Our goal is to program all summer and have at least one event curated every month. And we want the events to be across every spectrum,” Scanlon says. “Not just specific styles of music but the groups involved be that cultural groups, people who are interested in spoken word. The space will be open and very much do-it-yourself — whatever you think that Calgary needs will see, we will open it up.”
McHugh House is slated to open on June 17 — also known as Neighbour Day in Calgary. CJSW and the BNA are hosting an opening party from 11 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., featuring two bands and three DJs playing both inside and outside of the house, which is located on the corner of 17th Ave. and Centre St. in the Beltline.
Correction: A previous version of this article implied that CJSW and the BNA saved McHugh House from demolition. It was actually Ward 8 Coun. Evan Wooley’s efforts that saved the building from demolition. Additionally, the article failed to mention that the BNA co-hosted the June 17 launch of the house. The Gauntlet apologizes to its readers for this error.