What is the artBar?

The artBar is home to Guelph Arts Council, and a performance/meeting/event venue. 

During the day, the artBar serves as the office and headquarters of Guelph Arts Council, one of Canada's oldest art councils. But when the sun starts to set (and even before it does, sometimes!) it can become something else: an accessible, low-cost, blank canvas for artists and individuals to rent and host events or performances - or to partner with GAC to put on public-facing arts-related events. 

Formerly known as the eBar (which closed during the pandemic), the space upstairs at 37 Quebec Street has hosted the Downtown Theatre Project, Guelph Jazz Festival, Guelph Film Festival, Vocamus Writers' Group, performances from local performers and so much more. 

The artBar was launched, post-lockdown with the idea of "making space" for the creative community of Guelph.

What do you mean it's not a bar?

It's an event venue. So if you stop by for a drink, we will probably be closed. And we are not licensed. This allows us to keep insurance costs down in addition to running youth-oriented events - but if you wanted alcohol to be served or sold at your event you can get (or we can assist you in getting) an SOP, basically a temporary permit allowing the distribution of alcohol. This costs $150 if you intend to sell alcohol, $50 if you intend to have an open bar. If we get this permit for you we charge a $20 administrative fee. Also, please note that the taps at the former eBar are not maintained and not available. 

What is your capacity? Do you have seating available?

We are comfortable with a maximum of about 180 people. We have limited seating available and can fit about 60-80 chairs, depending on your set-up. 

Are you accessible?

There is elevator and ramp access via the Bookshelf bookstore & the Greenroom/Cinema entrance. The stage itself is currently not accessible but we are working on that!

I want to have an event there! How does it work?

If your event is public (i.e. the general public can buy tickets and attend), and of artistic significance or value to the community - or fills a niche within the artistic community by featuring an underrepresented community or artistic discipline we may be interested in partnering with you. You just have to ask. Don't be offended if we say no, sometimes it's down to our capacity, and has nothing to do with the quality of your event. 

What a partnership means is that we would handle some of the logistics, assist in promotion, stock the bar (if the bar is to be in use), get the permit, do some of the cleaning, set-up, take down, set up a free online ticketing link, provide a point-of-sale terminal if necessary, provide a bartender and arrange a sound person if one is necessary. In these cases, where there is a partnership there is no rental fee. Instead, we take the combined door and alcohol sales, deduct the cost of the sold alcohol, permit and sound person and split the remainder 60(you)/40(us). We do not take any money from merchandise. You created that product, and the profit from that is solely yours. We provide a spreadsheet at the end with an accurate breakdown. 

I don't need your help, can I just rent it?

Yes, you can. What you will get is the use of the space for about 8 hours but we try to be as flexible as possible - if nothing is happening the day before or after, we don't mind if you load in a day early or load out a day late. Everything else (bar, door, promotion, set-up, clean-up, POS, etc…) is up to you, it's a blank canvas. We will give you advice (if asked for) and guidelines, and the rest is up to you.

Why choose one over the other?

That's entirely up to you. By partnering with us, you save a lot of time and effort. If your goal is to have a successful event or performance, and don't want the hassle of figuring some of it out (the bar, etc) then partnering is a great win/win option. You get a great event, and we make enough money to keep the lights on. If you want to be entrepreneurial and aren't scared off by a bit of hard work and project management, then operating your own bar, door, ticketing etc… can be very lucrative, and we like being able to provide a platform for artists to make a fair return. It's your choice. 

How much does it cost?

The base rate for rental is $250. Use of our (considerable) sound system is an extra $100. We have sound people available (if needed) on a per-night basis, and they cost between $200-$250. Private parties which are not arts-related or open to the public (such as wedding receptions) start at $1000. 

$1000? What? 

That's right. That money goes straight into our programming and operations, supporting our granting programs, workshops and other community-based programming. We are, first and foremost, an arts advocacy organization. Private parties are not part of our mandate - which isn't to say we won't host them - but they create considerable disruption and strain on the organization, and the cost reflects that. 

Can I host a visual art show there?

Probably not. Our walls are not included in any rental and GAC has frequent and ongoing visual arts shows. It's in our contract for rental that the walls may not be touched. If you're interested in participating, become a GAC member HERE and sign up for our newsletter or follow us on social media - we announce open calls there. That being said, if you have what you think is a stellar idea for a visual arts show (and specifically a group show - we only do individual/solo shows twice a year as we want to feature as many artists as possible), talk to us. 

We like great ideas!

What do you mean I have to become a member to rent the space?

Oh, you didn't ask that. Well, let us tell you. In order to rent the space, it is mandatory to become a member of Guelph Arts Council, which you can do, quite easily HERE.

Why? Glad you asked. The most important reason is because you support our activities, advocacy and want to lend your voice to our mission and mandate. But if that wasn't enough, by becoming a member your event will be covered under our insurance, saving you over $200. 

What is your stage lighting like?

I'll level with you, it's not great. It's pretty basic. 

Sound System?

Now this is much better. Our main board is a Behringer X32, capacity for 4 individually mixed stage monitors, 6 if two are chained, EV speakers. It gets loud, but not just loud - clear. We have mic stands, and some DIs, and a few microphones. There is no house drum kit. 

Is there anything else I should know?

Probably, but that's a lot, and gives you the general idea. Contact us for any other questions!