Past, present, and future

25 years of entertainment at the WECC

The West End Cultural Centre (WECC) is celebrating its 25th year in the Winnipeg music scene with a weekend of music that you won’t want to miss.

Established in 1987, this 80-year-old former church has undergone many changes over the years. Most recently, the venue was able to expand with an extreme renovation, which included improvements such as a bigger stage, a larger lobby, brand spanking new sound and lighting equipment, more accessible washrooms (they used to be right beside the stage, which was a bit awkward to say the least), larger audience capacity, wheelchair accessibility, and a swanky new backstage area for artists, just to name a few. The building is also now greener than ever, built with recycled and reclaimed items, and boasting environmentally friendly geothermal heating.

“The renovations have definitely made for a better experience for artists and patrons,” said Jason Hooper, artistic director for the WECC. “The venue is a more attractive place, no doubt about it.”

The WECC’s recent renovation has not only made it one of Winnipeg’s most sophisticated music venues, but has also made the facility more accessible to the community.

“The WECC has engaged in outreach programming for several years but the new facility provides a dedicated community space in the Assiniboine Credit Union Hall,” states general manager, Meg McGimpsey.

“Our after-school music lessons [ . . . ] are no longer forced downstairs on the evening of a concert. Instead this program and programs such as our daytime workshop series for neighbourhood schools and community groups have a space reserved that meets their needs,” said McGimpsey.

The West End Cultural Centre will be celebrating a quarter-century with a weekend of music that not only showcases some of the leading names in Winnipeg’s current music scene, but also tips a hat to the bands that have graced the stage at the WECC and supported the venue over the past 25 years.

“We wanted to put something together that included the past but not at the expense of our present and future,” said Hooper. “It had to be something that celebrated success in all its forms and recognized the incredible talent and diversity of the musical culture of Winnipeg and Manitoba.”

The WECC’s 25th anniversary weekend will kick off Friday, Oct. 19 with a performance from Propagandhi, Winnipeg’s most beloved iconic punk band, who are currently touring on their newest release, Failed States. Support for this show will be provided by local grindcore band Head Hits Concrete, and surf-noir trio, This Hisses.

The following day, the WECC will be taken over by a smorgasbord of some of Winnipeg’s most talented and relevant musicians. Some artists scheduled to perform include: Nicky Mehta (The Wailin’ Jennys), Keri Latimer (Nathan), Alexa Dirks & Ariane Jean (Chic Gamine), Vanessa Kuzina & MJ Dandenau (Oh My Darling), Lloyd Peterson, Greg Macpherson, Scott Nolan, and much more.

So, what does 25 years mean for the West End Cultural Centre?

“In part, it is a vindication of the vision of that was made reality 25 years ago,” states Hooper. “It’s no small thing to have a music venue, of any kind or size, endure for that length of time. For the WECC it is an opportunity to take stock of our success, to measure the obstacles that have been overcome, and recognize that none of it would be possible without the support and strength of great music, culture, and community.”

Catch Propagandhi with Head Hits Concrete and This Hisses at the WECC on Oct. 19 – if you can find tickets.

Tickets for the West End Cultural Centre’s 25th Anniversary Concert on Oct. 20 are available through the West End Cultural Centre, Ticketmaster, Music Trader, and the Winnipeg Folk Festival Music Store.