Organizers of Le Festival du Voyageur are shutting the Taché Avenue hall, whose headliners over the past two decades have included Prince, Tom Cochrane, and Wilco. A private club in the same building called Le Canot is also closing.
The non-profit group, which hosts Winnipeg's 10-day winter festival, owns the two-storey building, where it has offices and runs both venues. Executive director Norm Gousseau said the 725-seat Le Rendez-Vous is losing money and doesn't fit into the organization's role of promoting Manitoban French culture.
"It's not great sums, but we aren't making money and that's the whole purpose of owning the facility, to raise funds for the festival," he said.
"We do culture and heritage. Owning buildings is not necessarily in our mandate."
The $3-million festival lost $145,000 last year.
Winnipeg's already beleaguered concert scene is sure to suffer from the closing of the only mid-sized concert venue in the vicinity of downtown, which featured acts too big for clubs but too small for soft-seat theatres, said Ian Low, senior talent director for promoter House of Blues Concerts Canada in Vancouver.
"It's a huge loss. I'm disappointed because it's a great venue," said Low, a former Winnipegger. "There have been amazing shows there by bands like Jesus Jones, NOFX and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It's the perfect size for that kind of developing act.
"If there's no venue available, shows are going to skip the city for sure."
With Le Rendez-Vous out of the picture, promoters will be left without a mid-sized concert venue in the vicinity of downtown. The University of Manitoba's Multi-Purpose Room and the Canad Inns chain's Colosseum and Silverado's have similar capacities, but are located in the suburbs.
Le Festival du Voyageur Inc. bought and renovated the building in 1981 with a vision of running casinos. Instead, Le Rendez-Vous played host to bingos until Manitoba legalized video lottery terminals in the mid-1990s and demand dried up, said Gousseau.
His organization hasn't decided what to do with the Taché Avenue building and is talking with city councillors and the local economic development office about how the 22,000-square foot facility could best serve St. Boniface.