Monday, February 19, 2007
Below is a message from a member of the Board of the Charlotte St. Arts Centre (CSAC) to UG Cafe members. It's followed by my outraged response.
Something that I neglected to put in my response, but would like to add now, is that my good friend George, both a member of the UG Cafe and a janitor in the CSAC, has faced retaliation for that incident last week. He's losing his janitor's job in the building! He's being "offered" the job of only locking doors every night (which is barely any hours at all).
I'd also like to add that the Board has made it clear that they intend to impose a policy on us that allows us to only have A SOLO MUSICIAN ON AN ACCOUSTIC GUITAR WITH NO AMPLIFICATION! Obviously, that's very limiting.
If you'd like to address the CSAC directly to give your 2 cents, that would be greatly appreciated. We'll need as much support as possible in order to prevent the plug from being pulled on us (yet another music venue gone?).
Good morning, George and Kira and Asaf,
Brigitte forwarded your e-mail to me. I was not aware that Kira had taken over
Asaf's work load. I have directed Brigitte to pay you both for the hours that you have
worked. However, as of Monday, February 26, we will have a permanent janitor in place
and will not need you to assist us with this work any longer. We would still like to
keep you on for the final security check each night.
The recent vandalism of the men's washroom is of grave concern to us. It is not
only an expensive act, but it says to us that the individuals who come to the Cafe for
entertainment are not properly supervized. Have you been able to identify the young man
who committed the act of vandalism?? The costs to repair the urinal are substantial and
we would like to be able to present the bill to him and his parents.
You asked in your e-mail to Brigitte that you meet with the Board about the
restrictions on your music events. The Administration and Operations committee is
meeting on Thursday evening of this week to discuss several issues and the music in the
Cafe will be on the agenda. We worked diligently to obtain permission from the City for
you to have the Cafe. It was our understanding that you would run a Cafe with an
occasional guitarist or singer providing entertainment. You also indicated that you
wanted to present movies and lectures on a variety of topics. It was never discussed
with the Board that you become a venu for amplified music that disrupts tenants and
brings in a crowd that is disrespectful to you and the Charlotte St Arts Centre. The
graffiti on the walls around the outside of the building has increased, and the recent
addition of the painted letters on the front bricks of the building is very disturbing.
It is difficult and expensive to remove paint from old bricks.
It is imperative that you use your resources within the vison action collective to
provide internal and external supervision of your patrons to prevent further damage.
It is also important that the VAC spend time cleaning out the closet at the end of the
hall. It is not your rented space, and we would like it cleaned.
The Board welcomed you to the CSAC and we have tried to be supportive. However, if
you are not able to manage the Cafe without vandalism to the building and disruption to
the tenants, we will not renew your lease in September.
Brigitte has asked for your address in order to properly complete employment
cheques for you. Please send her the information. She is working from home today and
is not in the office. I am in the office today, if you have questions.
Penny K. Ericson
To the Whole FAL Board
I think the Board is being unfair in their determination and they will definately be challenged by both the Underground Cafe and the community of musicians and activists throughout the Canada who depend on our venue (calls to action to the 100s of musicians and activists that appreciate us are being sent out momentarily, and I doubt that FAL's ridiculous position will be looked at too highly; rather, it will be responded to with appropriate outrage). If the Board got out of their caves, they would realize our importance to the arts and social justice community in Fredricton and beyond. They will soon. If they were not so pretentious and arrogant, they would know that there will be a counter-reaction to their actions. DO NOT CRIMINALIZE US FOR THE ACTIONS OF ONE PERSON!!! WE HAVE NOT BEEN PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OTHER VANADALISM AROUND THE BUILDING. Please don't make a general conduct problem out of one instance. That's entirely unfair and we're going to call the Board out on this act of bullying. It's particularly insulting to have this treatment considering we cancelled the show when the incident happened, yelled at the audience for it, demanded the identity of who did it, contacted the plumber, cleaned up the mess, and have since been trying to nail down the identity of the perpetrator of the act through our own research.
Do you want criminalize others in the building for occasional acts that ARE NOT intentional and an unavoidable part of operating such an arts centre? Let's engage in that ridiculous exercise, shall we? I am aware that the hardwood floors in the auditorium have been damaged through the actions of a dance group (tape stains on the floor as well as major scratches). What are the damages of this? Has the group who did this been responded to in the same aggressive manner as us? Also, there's ALI and all the LOUD banging of the floors that happen regularly on Saturdays THAT WE'VE NEVER COMPLAINED ABOUT. Should we now criminalize those kids? How about all the running in the halls that regularly happens from the kids from ALI and the dance studio? There is a sign saying no running in the halls. Should young children be banned from the building? Should we also talk about the Craft College students who regularly have disrespected our policy of "no outside food that is not vegan"? WE NEVER COMPLAINED PUBLICALLY ABOUT THAT EITHER. What about the violin studio and the fact that the violins are loud enough that when I've had meetings in the multi-purpose room, we've had trouble hearing each other. Have we complained about that either? Nope. The main point I'm trying to make with all this is that we're not being petty. Some people are.
About the music policy, and the fact that we'ver never asked persmission from the Board about that. That's a non issue. We're a registered business that's open to the public. If we want to play live music here, we can, with the only deterrant being LEGITIMATE noise complaints. An example of an illigitimate noise complaint: during our Novemeber 2006 benefit show, someone called the police on us (one of the city's most popular musical acts, Vetch, was playing) and when I went outside to talk to the police, it was clear that they realized how petty the complaint was. They said there was no problem as long as we had our windows closed. The point I am making is that there is nothing in the lease that explicitly bans us from playing live music, even amplified. The only body that we legally have to deal with over playing live music in general is SOCAN. It seems the Board does not understand these rules. They should look them up before pronouncing us as guilty of some sort of violation.
About the "new graffiti" issue. That's a laughable complaint. So, who did it? Does the Board have any evidence that someone related in any way to the cafe spray-painted "W.C" on the front of the building? No substance was attached to the accusation. DON'T CALL THEM OUR PATRONS!! YOU DON'T KNOW THAT!!! That could have been anyone who did that, even someone walking by the building. It could have been an NBCCD student, a member of the Board, etc. Who knows? We cetainly don't! It's not our job to supervise EVERYONE IN THE BUILDING AND THE WHOLE NEIGHBOURHOOD IN GENERAL. If FAL wants to pay us for full time security, it costs appriximately $15 per hour or more (I called around and checked). Considering that there has been so much resistance to appropriately paying the staff of the building, especially Brigitte and Flip, as well as me and George...and all the while a chandellier and grand piano suddenly are affordable...I doubt that we would be paid to perform full time security services.
And about the other graffitti around the building? Did you all notice it was around BEFORE the Arts Centre even opened up. I certainly did because I lived in this neighbourhood for 3 years and regularly walked by the building to and from my trips downtown. Some people on the Board seem to like to comment on things they do not have any real knowledge about.
And the back room. That moldy, unrentable room!? If we want to use that room (that the Arts Centre has NOT allocated any money to fix up), what exactly is the specfic disruption we are causing to the centre? I'm not going to believe that room is worth anything at the moment. I'm sure the health insepctor would agree. Should I contact her/him? The point is we're making use of the room. It's more important to us than to others in the building. Did the building ever ask us to pay rent for it? They didn't.
So, who are the people on the Board who are having a problem with us? Do you have the courage to name yourselves and attach your specific complaints to your names? Do you, who want us removed, actually consider yourselves representative of the arts community? I want to know who you are and what you have to personally say about all this.
Expect this effort to bully the Cafe to become very public. Expect the opposition to our impending eviction to be very intense. Word is already travelling. The numerous communities who appreciate this place will be very upset. Some are already speaking up.
It's time for FAL to face the music they'd rather hide.