Bruno is a tiny town an hour east of Saskatoon with a population under 600, and it’s become a favourite stop for nationally-touring artists. Bruno has attracted this attention thanks to the hard work of Kerri Reid and Tyler Brett, who co-operate the Bruno Arts Bank, a small coffee bar, record/book store, music/presentation venue, art gallery, mini-museum, and artist residency. Julie Doiron, Christine Fellows, Shotgun Jimmie & Jaybird, Evening Hymns, and many of Saskatchewan’s skilled up-and-coming musicians have graced its stage. Authors, sculptors, painters, and musicians have also enjoyed the rare opportunity to apply their talents in a rural setting.
Tyler says, “The experience of running the Bruno Arts Bank has hugely heightened our appreciation for how hard musicians work...we didn’t fully appreciate how many amazing and hard-working musicians there are in Canada until we started hosting them here.” Tyler and Kerri have learned not to overbook, and to always plan with other community events in mind. They have put a lot of effort into cultivating a local emphasis by building a Town of Bruno history display, hosting community events, and featuring Bruno residents, such as senior citizen/inventor/accordion player Gilbert Ludwig, who opened for both of Julie Doiron’s appearances.
Kerri and Tyler share the bittersweet news that they are moving to the west coast to be closer to their families. They will miss Bruno dearly, but they are thrilled to announce that the Bruno Arts Bank was recently sold to Kristen Berkel and Jonas Hrebeniuk, kindred spirits and longtime supporters that Kerri and Tyler consider to be the perfect people to keep the Arts Bank thriving. The Arts Bank is booked up until the end of May; Kristen and Jonas take over in June. Kerri and Tyler intend to start another small venue on the coast to bring with them some of the charm and community spirit of Bruno.
When asked what advice they could offer to someone else who was thinking of opening a venue in a small town, Kerri and Tyler responded, “Be prepared to multi-task, subsidize the operation with alternate sources of income, and draw on talent from the community. Ultimately, running a small venue has to be a labour of love, something you do because you love music.”
Profiles by Steve Reed for SaskMusic.