Small Town Artillery is springing into the national spotlight, but not for it’s “horn-powered riff wagon riding” sound. Back in mid February the band offered a contest on it’s Facebook page, giving away 50 tickets for an upcoming show to “Indigenous Land Defenders & Allies”. That post caught the attention of people in communities the band had booked on it’s upcoming national tour. This has lead to a huge online backlash against the band by people concerned the band opposes the oil and gas industry and by extension people who work in these industries. So far three dates have been cancelled including their show at The Vat in Red Deer.
In the ensuing days the band has responded to the backlash with a couple of well written and passionate posts attempting to further explain their stance. The posts from the group’s Facebook page respond to their first cancelled show in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. The second is in response to two more cancelations including Cold Lake and Red Deer. Here they are:
Posted March 4:
Tom here. I’d like to take a moment to address something.
This band has been an advocate for the move towards renewable energy & continues to try our best to put First Nations rights in front of our audiences. We have written songs about our discontent surrounding these issues. However, we hold no malice towards those working in the Energy sector, or their families – there is nothing more universal than providing for the ones you love, and supporting your family and community. These are the values we hold closest. The feeling of being good at something, using your skills to support yourself & those dear to you – that is something I understand deeply. If there were a movement against touring bands, the thing I have lashed my hopes & dreams & identity to, I would feel attacked no doubt.
We were booked to perform at the Norman Ritchie Community Centre in Kindersley, Saskatchewan as part of our upcoming tour. After seeing some of our videos, the NRCC reached out to me with concerns about our stance on the oil & gas industry, feeling it would harm attendance. They asked if we could keep the politics out of the show, and focus on the music. I was happy to oblige this. A few weeks ago, we decided to go ahead.
In the last 48 hours, we have received messages from some folks, expressing their discontent with the band & our message. I believe they feel that their very livelihood is under fire by some of the messages our band has. This snowballed into a groundswell of resistance to our show, and targeted the community group bringing us in as well. It got to the point where there were threats to cut off the gas to the building during our show, and “run us out of town”. The Mayor of Kindersley stepped in and advised the venue to cancel the show. After discussing with the NRCC at length, we all decided it was in everyone’s best interests to do just that. So we will no longer be playing in Kindersley on April 9th.
Our intention with our music is not to personally attack hard-working Canadians. It is to keep the conversation moving forward with an open mind. We burn fossil fuel, we participate in capitalism, we have great privilege to be able to do what we do.
Our aim is to work toward what we believe to be a better earth in the future, though it will take time. Our goal with this post is not to back down from these views, but to let you know that we tour with open hearts and it is only through conversation that we can make steps in this direction. I cannot claim to know the whole story, and my hope with this tour is to get to speak with & play for people with many different points of view & ways of life.
We are disappointed that we won’t be coming to Kindersley to play this time around, and that we are letting down the fans in Kindersley who responded so positively. We’d also like to credit the NRCC for being diplomatic and reasonable in all of their dealings with us, and know this doesn’t reflect the whole town.
We come with open arms, and we come to play.
Tom & BAND.
Posted March 7:
Hello! We are posting to address the national media attention our band has garnered over the past few days. Due to the online actions of a few individuals, controversy over our national tour has led to 3 shows being cancelled: Kindersley (SK), Cold Lake and Red Deer (AB). It stems from differing opinions surrounding the move toward more renewable energy sources and our views on the matter, which have been skewed to say that we are against people who work in the oil and gas industry. We are not. As we’ve repeatedly stated, our band is about music & community first, though we do not shy away from conversations about such topics, especially with those of differing opinions. We are not on tour with a political agenda, we write songs about issues we care about.
The majority of the backlash stems from our decision to support the protests in BC. We did this because they were focused on Indigenous land rights, and challenging the system to take a different approach toward reconciliation.
In the last week, we have learned so much about people who work in the oil & gas industry and how they also feel threatened by the changes we are all struggling to understand. I called Rod Perkins, the Mayor of Kindersley, and we had a good talk. He opened my eyes to the challenges people in his jurisdiction are facing, and it brought home the point that there are so many nuances to every story, this one included.
We have spent our career listening to & trying to amplify voices that need it. We believe this is the duty of an artist, to recognize and address social issues. Art is a commentary on the world around you at any given time, with the information you have at hand. We will continue to hold our heads high and do our best to navigate this – music is meant to unite, not divide.
Alberta loosens rules for singing, wind instruments as long as precautions taken
EDMONTON — Alberta’s top doctor says people can sing and play wind instruments indoors once again, provided COVID-19 precautions are in place.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw says those activities were severely restricted because they were thought to pose unique risks of spreading the virus.
But she says new evidence shows they can be done safely with certain safeguards.
Limited band practices, singing, and wind instrument concerts are allowed as long as there’s proper physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and other precautions.
Choirs can restart with maximum size limits and masks, but audience singing is still not allowed.
Alberta reported 111 new COVID-19 cases in Friday’s update and one new death.
There are 1,444 active cases with 41 in hospital and six in intensive care.
Hinshaw also says there are 29 schools where someone attended while infectious with COVID-19 and that 32 cases have been linked to those schools.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 11, 2020.
The Canadian Press
City of Calgary Helping Local Businesses Recover from COVID-19 with Digital Main Street ShopHERE Pilot
The City of Calgary is piloting a new initiative aimed at helping artists and small businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Working with Digital Main Street to join the ShopHERE program, powered by Google, the City will aid up to 90 local businesses and artists in their transition to online stores.
The growing digital economy of recent years has been massively accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic, as people have increasingly turned to online alternatives and contact-less deliveries for everything from groceries to clothes to entertainment purchases. Now more than ever, for small businesses to be successful, participation in the digital economy is key.
In May, Google Canada announced a $1 million investment for Digital Main Street to expand the Toronto-based ShopHERE program across the country. In Calgary, Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE program is now available to artists or registered small independent businesses and nonprofits that are commercial or home based, have fewer than 10 employees (25 for restaurants or bars), and are not a corporate chain or franchise.
As a participant in the ShopHERE program, businesses will have access to hands-on assistance in setting up and launching their online stores with customized information and branding. Members will also receive digital marketing, shipping and inventory support to aid in the successful maintenance of online shops.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks on the ShopHERE program
Operating on a first come, first serve basis, the program will help up to 90 independent local businesses and artists enter the online sales sphere. “We remain optimistic and more determined than ever that technology is the toolkit for a world of opportunities,” says Sabrina Geremia, VP and Country Manager, Google Canada, “Our $1 million investment will go towards expanding the ShopHERE program nationally, so we can help small businesses across Canada navigate the challenges ahead.”
To learn more about the ShopHERE program or to apply, visit https://digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere/.
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
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