Jazz club should be treated like a business not a charity

Re: Financially troubled jazz club at crossroads by Dennis Slater Sept 03-09 2009.

With a mix of sad amazement and quiet fury I’ve been reading about local jazz watering hole Beat Niq’s financial problems.

The big question is: How much of this is their own fault?

There’s no shortage of live music venues in downtown Calgary. There are no less than three clubs where you can see a live band no less than three clubs where you can see DJs and a variety of other clubs be it on 17th Ave. 11th Ave. the C-Train line and First St. that involve some kind of live entertainment on at least two of their evenings. Fast Forward Weekly’s listings are packed with evidence of this.

Obviously the band clubs are in competition with each other just as the DJ clubs are in competition with each other just as the Ship and Anchor is in competition with other pubs on 17th Ave. for pint-drinking customers.

So how is it that the city’s only jazz club without a single competitor is going under?

Obviously it isn’t a rent issue. If this was the case the Gypsy Wine Bar the Vietnamese sub café and the fly-fishing shop in the Grain Exchange building would also be going under and possibly mounting their own “Show how much you love trout fishing!” campaigns.

Nothing else in the neighbourhood on Stephen Avenue and the city’s cultural district has experienced financial troubles either. How can Beat Niq our sole presenter of jazz and a supposed institution be experiencing financial troubles when a shop that sells $9.99 CANADA T-shirts a half-block away is still going strong? Even the greasy pizza-by-the-slice hole next to Flames Central is doing all right.

I should make it clear I don’t hate jazz. Rather I love it. And I’ve attended a good many of Beat Niq’s shows. Will I buy a membership? Will I attend the benefit? Doubtful. Because I see both at this time as an interest-free loan from the public in the ruse of an ailing independent business.

On that note where is the $100000 needed going? Lease payments that their neighbours seem to have no problem paying? To musicians who should possibly drop their guarantees in the face of the closure of the hand that feeds them? There’s been no transparency on where this money is going. Nor has there been any information on what the $50000 the owners put in themselves $50000 that I wouldn’t have if say my home’s basement flooded tomorrow was needed for.

I’m not usually against live music I love all forms of it. Nor am I usually a free-market domineer. But in the face of Beat Niq’s situation there are two sad options: 1) The only jazz club in town learns how to run its business after the music-loving public gives it $100000 and is never ever asked to do so again. 2) Let Beat Niq close and someone competent open their own jazz venue.

Live music is needed in this city; it’s essential. But Beat Niq isn’t a not-for-profit charity. It’s a for-profit business. And it should be run and treated as such.

Daniel Molino