SaskMusic Launches Sask Venues Project

SaskMusic Launches Sask Venues Project

by SaskMusic

July 23, 2020 in SaskMusic News

First to close. Last to open.
Saskatchewan’s live music venues need and deserve immediate support.

July 23, 2020: SaskMusic is proud to launch the Sask Venues Project. We have partnered with an array of artists, designers and music venues across the province to create a series of special limited edition T-shirts with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the venues. The first round of shirts is available online now at, with more designs coming very soon.

Our venues come in all shapes and sizes, and it is our hope that the enormous value they bring our province can be recognized and celebrated. Venues are cultural spaces. Venues build community and drive tourism. They contribute significantly to our economy. They are also the fundamental bedrock of the music industry.

Supporting this project allows you to directly support your favourite music venues during this difficult time.

The unfortunately reality of this project is that it is only one small gesture which will have a modest impact on the survival and rebuilding of live music within Saskatchewan. The effect of COVID-19 in the province was felt from day one with the cancellation of the JUNO Awards, and the subsequent closure of all venues. And now, more than four months later as venues are among the last businesses permitted to re-open, we are acutely aware that in many instances it isn’t financially feasible for them to resume presenting live music with reduced capacities. Information coming out of the U.S. currently estimates that 90% of independent venues are at risk of permanent closure, and concerts are being cancelled well into fall 2021. This not only deeply impacts the livelihood of musicians and venues, but support personnel including sound techs, lighting techs, stage and production crews, festivals, tour managers and crews, record labels, recording studios, etc. The entire music ecosystem has been gravely disrupted.

Michael Dawson, Executive Director of SaskMusic, states, “I worry that people take music and its value for granted. We’ve come to just expect it to be everywhere. We expect it on our phones, in our cars, at our football games, in waiting rooms, in coffee shops and shopping malls, in restaurants and in bars. It’s literally everywhere. NASA even sent a mix tape to space. I’ve said this so many times that I feel like a broken record, no pun intended, but it needs to be heard now more than ever: Music is how we celebrate love, it’s how we process loss, and it’s a catalyst for countless social gatherings.

It anchors every touchstone in our lives. It plays a significant role in our celebrations, our weddings, and our funerals. Songs are how children learn, songs are how religions worship, and songs help us find a way to express human experiences and complex emotions that we otherwise would not have the words for. Music is the soundtrack to every turning point in history, and COVID-19 will not be an exception. I implore you to take a moment to truly consider the value music brings to your life. If there was ever a time for you to give back, it is now. The industry’s road to recovery is going to be more grueling than a mid-winter overnight drive through the Canadian Shield to play a gig in Thunder Bay on a Monday night, but it is an industry that has proven itself to be resilient in the past, and I remain hopeful that with public and government support, it can make a full return.”

Below is a short list of additional ways you can help support the return of live music:

1. Purchase gift certificates or merchandise directly from venues.

2. Support Gofundme or Patreon campaigns, or other fundraisers.

3. Consider donating what would have been your entertainment budget to your favorite venue.

4. Save up for when the pandemic is over, and put those dollars into the pockets of artists and venues.

5. Buy music and merchandise directly from the artists (or from

6. Donate to the Unison Benevolent Fund.

7. Purchase tickets for or donate to live streaming concerts.

8. Share and promote music via your social media.

“Bands like ours and countless others don't exist without independent performance venues. Having a supportive place to hone your craft and connect with others in the community is an integral part of an artist's development and growth. The Beatles aren't the Beatles without the Cavern Club and Joni Mitchell isn't Joni Mitchell without the Louis Riel Coffee House in Saskatoon. These spaces, while servicing artists, also simultaneously enrich the local community and procreate creativity and harmony to all those around them.” – Ryan Gullen, The Sheepdogs

“Several months ago, as NIVA was starting to take shape, we had the good fortune of speaking with similar venue associations from around the world that already existed. Their projections were ominous, at the time, they seemed drastic, claiming about 90% of their venues were at risk of permanent closure. We then did our own polling of NIVA members and got the same results, that about 90% of America's independent venues and promoters would permanently close within the first six months without financial assistance. As terrible as this number is, the reality is much worse. About half of that 90% won't even make it halfway as far. These businesses have been mandated closed by local governments to protect the well-being of their constituencies; it certainly falls on that same government to help the same businesses survive through these closures.” – Rev Moose, Executive Director/Co-founder of Nation Independent Venues Association (NIVA).

For more information on this project, please visit

Participating venues and artists:

Amigos Cantina (Saskatoon) – Chris Morin

The Artesian (Regina) – Stephanie Kuse

The Bassment (Saskatoon) – Craig Wilson

Black Cat Tavern (Saskatoon) – Encore Graphics

Broadway Theatre (Saskatoon) – Jaymie Raefta

Capitol Music Club (Saskatoon) – Avow Creative

Creative City Centre (Regina) – Articulate Ink

The Cure (Regina) – Graeme Zirk

Danceland (Watrous) – Alt Haus, Prairie Paint

The Exchange (Regina) – Meghan Fenske

Hank’s Tavern (Bradwell) – Hotel Design

The Happy Nun (Forget) – Glad Line

The Lyric (Swift Current) – Kelsey Chabot

More venues and artists to be announced soon.


SaskMusic ( is a non-profit association that stimulates growth and development in the commercial music industry of Saskatchewan through leadership, promotion, training, advocacy and partnership. We offer programming including artist consultations, workshops, marketing, artist listings, export assistance, networking opportunities and much more. We represent the four components of our industry: creative, interpretive, technical and administrative. Our artists and music professionals hail from across our province, and work in pretty much every genre you can imagine. We are a source of information and resources for both the public, and the music industry.


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For more information, contact Michael Dawson, Executive Director, SaskMusic;