Metropolis is out; M Telus is in
Call it the power of the corporate world, the reduction of cultural icons to business symbols, or whatever another term that may come to one’s mind, the truth is that the trend toward naming popular entertainment and sports venues after powerful corporations is getting more prevalent these days. The latest such move came last week when at a press conference called by the Spectra Team “a partnership agreement” between that group, and Telus, one of the major telecommunications companies in Canada, to modernize Metropolis was announced. Under the agreement, the historic theatre will be renamed M Telus, a change to be effective in May 2017.
The emblematic venue started as a skating rink in 1884; a year later was called the Théâtre Français, for some time it was a movie theatre, then a vaudeville place. It suffered two fires but it was rebuilt in the early 1930s, and between 1960 and 1981 it served as a porn cinema competing with similar venues around the corner on St. Laurent. Spectra rescued the old but majestic facility, to be nowadays one of the favourite venues for concerts. In fact, it is ranked as number one in Canada and 13th on a list of 200 greatest concert clubs according to the industry magazine “Pollstar.”
It has occasionally been the place for political gatherings as well. The No side celebrated its referendum victory there in 1995, and when the PQ won the provincial election in 2010 its members also met there (a tragic event happened that night when one lonely shooter tried to kill the then premier-elect—instead, he shot a stage technician). Metropolis will be renovated “to offer Montrealers an updated world class performing arts experience” according to the press release issued by Spectra.
Telus will invest more than 5 million dollars over the next ten years. The renovation of the site will take over a three-year period, and it would include a complete modernization of the lighting and sound systems as well as changes to the staging elements. The façade, an attractive feature of that section of Ste. Catherine St. will also change, becoming brighter and more accessible. Inside, the lobby and boxes would also be renovated.
Jacques-André Dupont, CEO of Spectra, during the press conference praised the commitment by Telus to this new venture and the importance of the partnership between “a leading company in the domain of new technologies; and Metropolis, the #1 venue in Canada” adding that “we have everything it takes to offer Montrealers the perfect gift.”
For his part, François Gratton on behalf of Telus indicated that “Montreal is renowned for its vibrant music scene and as an outstanding springboard for emerging artists.” Then he finished by stating that “Together, we will ensure the cachet and integrity of the venue are preserved so that spectators, artists and performers alike can rediscover the iconic space they have always loved.”
Of course, it is good news that this great concert venue is going to be refurbished without losing—as we were assured—its character and charm. But I’m sure many will feel like me regarding the loss of a name that evokes so many images and associations. Metropolis: the idea not only of a big city but also a lively one; the title of a classic silent-era movie by Fritz Lang with a dystopian plot; and—of course—the name of the city where Superman has his adventures. It won’t have the same resonance to say, “I’m going to a concert at M Telus tonight.”
By Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca