The West End Cultural Centre has appointed a new general manager.
Weakerthans guitarist Stephen Carroll will be taking over for former GM Meg McGimpsey effective Jan. 20.
"Stephen’s work as both a musician and a manager has focused on building community and supporting and celebrating emerging and out-of-the-mainstream artists," Dave Plummer, president of the WECC’s board of directors, said in a release. "This background fits perfectly with what we do here at the WECC."
Indeed, Carroll, 40, is no stranger to the business side of the music industry. He doubled as the Weakerthans’ business manager for 14 years, a skill set he parlayed into his own management company, Empirical Artist Services Inc., in 2009. He was recognized for his work in the field at the 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards, where he was named Manager of the Year.
A graduate of the University of Winnipeg, Carroll has mentored new artists and has been active part of consultations for the development of funding programs for the music industry.
The appointment at the WECC represents a new chapter in his music career.
"I’ve always kept an eye on this position as a possibility for me. I’ve been working towards this. For me, it’s a continuation of my career and a chance to further support up-and-coming acts and their growth," Carroll told the Free Press.
It’s also a chance to be a part of a well-respected not-for-profit community arts organization to which he has a deep emotional and professional connection.
"I feel a deep sense of responsibility to maintain its reputation locally, as well as in the Canadian music scene at large," he said. "It was a seminal venue for me and for many touring bands in Canada. I really can’t imagine my career without it."
In fact, it was a WECC show — a rowdy late-’80s gig featuring Gorilla Gorilla, the punk band fronted by a young Bif Naked — that inspired him to give his life to music. "A light went off in my head and I thought, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ And I have been a part of it," he said.
All this raises the question: What does this news mean for his involvement with the Weakerthans?
"We’re not active and there’s no foreseeable activity planned. I’ll have lots of time for the WECC," Carroll said.
In late November, McGimpsey left the WECC to take a job as an arts management consultant at the Province of Manitoba. During her 4 1/2- year tenure, she oversaw the reopening of the newly renovated facility, developed new programs and operating procedures, and established an endowment fund for the centre at The Winnipeg Foundation.