The Broadway Theatre snagged two Saskatchewan Music Awards this year, showing their importance in the local music community.
Despite the pandemic and the cancellation of many music events last year, SaskMusic decided that the show must go on — virtually. The online awards event was held on Jan. 24 and awarded 15 worthy recipients for the work they did in 2020.
The theatre faced the same challenges as all venues in the city in 2020. However, they still managed to win the Industry Achievement award and the Venue of the Year award, two incredible feats considering the event and show cancellations they saw when COVID-19 hit.
Kirby Wirchenko, Broadway Theatre’s executive and artistic director, says they are not “that old theatre that plays weird movies anymore.”
“We are a community centre, a culture centre — we do more than just host movies. We are an organization,” Wirchenko said.
Mike Dawson, SaskMusic’s executive director, says the Industry Achievement award’s goal is to recognize organizations that are contributing greatly to the Saskatchewan music community. It captures the “broader scope” of what is happening in the industry.
“It’s fairly wide open, for people doing valuable and innovative work within the industry,” Dawson said.
The other award won by the Broadway Theatre is Venue of the Year. Dawson says that the award is open to venues and presenters who hold events in notable spaces, making them an important location in the music community for artists.
He mentions Broadway Theatre’s annual Winterruption, which was the only major event they were able to put on in 2020.
When the theatre started Winterruption six years ago, they held seven shows in three venues. Since then, they have expanded.
“Last year, when we did Winterruption, we did 27 shows in nine venues — everything up to TCU Place size,” Wirchenko said.
Winterruption happened in January 2020, before COVID-19 hit the city, and it was the best and biggest Winterruption yet.
Other events the theatre put on last year include a concert with Andy Shauf, an improv comedy show called “Antibody A-Go-Go”, and a screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. The community-first approach the theatre took in implementing public health measures meant they managed to host safe events in a difficult year, which made them stand out as a venue.
They were also set to produce The JUNO Awards in March 2020, which hasn’t been hosted in Sask. since 2013. Due to COVID-19, it had to be cancelled prior to the event date.
The Broadway Theatre has been active in the events, music and art communities of Saskatoon. Wirchenko mentions that the theatre has not always felt like they belong in a specific scene, simply because they are involved in so many.
“For the music industry to look at us and go, ‘You’re not just a part of it, but you’re a bit of a leader’ — it’s just extra special,” Wirchenko said.