Booze cops blitz art shows
Art show curators pushing the next big thing -- and some booze to go with it -- may want to read the fine print on their special occasion liquor permits.
Photographer Chris Ablett didn't, and her recent show at Come as You Are got an unwanted visit from -- count 'em -- three officers from the Ontario Provincial Police.
No, they weren't there to check for obscenities in her exhibit of erotic photos of nudes and power tools, although they did hang around for an unusually long time. They came to issue a stern warning on the lubrication being offered.
Turns out those special occasion permits handed out by the LCBO aren't so special. They only allow alcohol to be served at by-invitation events. Publicly advertised events are another story, and pouring liquor at those could cost you a tidy sum in fines.
Problem is, a permit that lets people who walk in off the street enjoy wine and cheese with their art doesn't exist.
So how the hell is anyone supposed to sell art in this city? According to Ablett, "The people [issuing the permit] said that if the majority attending are people you know, then that's what 'invited guests' means."
The cops, she says, had a different story. They said they were in the middle of a blitz and gave her a peek at a longish hit list of places they're targeting, galleries included.
"They were bragging about how many art shows they'd fined that night," says Ablett.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) says the invite-only stipulation is meant to guard against serving minors and rowdiness -- perhaps inspired by the oh-so-sublime work on the walls?
"We've had a lot of problems," claims AGCO spokesperson Ab Campion .
This incident was enough to scare Come as You Are co-owner Sarah Forbes-Roberts into swearing off booze at future openings. "We're just not going to be serving alcohol."
For members of the arts community, the incident raises a red flag. What's the benefit of a liquor permit when it gives cops leeway to snoop?
Says Adrienne DeFrancesco , a volunteer curator at queer artist space Gallery X , "We have always been sensitive to that possibility because of [the long history of] police raids."
Campion maintains that officers are blitzing art shows for liquor offences, period. "Nothing more, nothing less."
It's lights out for Cinespace
The home of X-Men, Resident Evil II and Chicago is no more. Cinespace is lost in space.
A last-minute appeal to Mayor David Miller, who doubles as the co-chair of the city's film board, to extend Cinespace's lease by 18 months went unanswered.
The Toronto film studio is getting the boot from its Jarvis and Queens Quay locale February 21 to make way for waterfront development in the East Bayfront area this summer, prompting Cinespace to accuse the city of shutting down small studios in favour of Filmport, Toronto Film Studios ' (TFS) monster production centre set to open in the port lands next year.
Cinespace head Steve Mirkopoulos
blamed its landlord, the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO), which also owns the lands on which Filmport will be built, for forcing the closure "in blatant contempt of its own economic development mandate.-
But TEDCO says the studio owners have known for a year that they'd have to vacate. Says TEDCO president Jeffrey Steine r , "They knew the waterfront development was coming.-
TFS president Ken Ferguson hopes to end the criticism of Filmport by bringing big blockbuster shoots to town and attracting "the business Toronto's been missing.-
A petition asking for delay of the closure signed by more than 5,000 supporters, including famous zombie director George A. Romero, has seemingly failed to make an impression on the mayor.
Don Wanagas, Miller's director of communications , says Cinespace's future is in TEDCO's hands.