At the Music New Brunswick Awards on Nov. 22, the Venue of the Year award was won by not one, but two Fredericton venues — the Cap and the Charlotte Street Art Centre.
Music NB is a non-profit organization that supports and represents the music industry in New Brunswick. The organization has around 500 member artists and works to guide local musicians through the inner workings of the music industry.
Since 2010, part of how Music NB has shown this support is through its annual Music NB awards.
“We started it because we wanted a way to recognize what artists are doing and the talented people already living and working in New Brunswick,” said Dawn Després-Smyth, the coordinator of member happiness at Music NB.
To take part in the event, artists and venues must complete a nomination form or be nominated by another person. From there, a panel of jurors narrow the selection down to eight nominees from each category. After that, there’s a calculation that finalizes the top five and confirms the winner.
While most awards are calculated by the works of an artist, the Venue of the Year award is different. Nominees are judged based on how many New Brunswick artists they host during the year, their impact on the community, how they help emerging artists and their overall support of the music industry.
This year the award’s calculations ended in a tie, resulting in a split-victory for the Cap and the Charlotte Street Art Centre.
“That’s very unusual. It doesn’t really happen often,” said Després-Smyth. “All the venues in that category this year did some pretty amazing work in the past year trying to help musicians. It was pretty hard, but these two came on top.”
Eva George, outreach program director of the Charlotte Street Art Centre and president of the Music NB board, was hosting the event when she found out about the art centre’s win.
“I was surprised and happy. It was really nice to be able to be in the room,” said George.
George was one of the people who helped complete the nomination form the art centre submitted to Music NB. She said she hoped to give the art centre some of the recognition it deserves.
“I think what we’ve been really bad at in the past as an organization is tooting our own horn. So when I submitted the nomination, I really just wanted to highlight all of the things that we do offer for our community, not just in the music scene, but in visual arts and theatre as well,” she said.
Though the Cap and the Charlotte Street Art Centre applied for the award separately, George said the two venues formed a partnership during the COVID-19 lockdown to optimize support for artists during the pandemic.
“We feel pretty grateful to share the award with the Cap,” said George. “We feel really grateful to be able to have another great venue in the city, but also really happy that our venues have been able to ride out COVID.”