Le Temporaire operated for eight years. At the end of September 2017, they closed their doors permanently, demonstrating the difficulties of keeping affordable practice spaces open.
BY AILEEN DUNCAN
Sometimes it feels like there are rivers between us and Gatineau, but in reality our sister city is just a bridge away. There are clear connections between the two cities, encouraged by proximity, employment pat- terns, and perhaps the beer selection in a couple key dépanneurs.
I spent a couple years working in Hull, and even lived there briefly. In exploring the area by foot and by bike, I came to appreciate the languages, green spaces, and shops. There’s even something to be said for the architecture, regardless of your opinion of Brutalism. Culturally and aesthetically, Hull feels different than Ottawa. And similar to Ottawa, it’s a place full of gems that are hidden in plain sight.
One such gem was le Temporaire. It was founded by several artists, who converted a garage into an atelier of sorts. It became a large and adaptable open space devoted to creative pursuits, particularly the practice and production of music and visual arts. They had a membership-based model, where artists paid fees to rent workspaces. While the precise number of members fluctuated, it generally fell between seven and 10 people.
Le Temporaire operated for eight years. At the end of September, they closed their doors permanently, demonstrating the difficulties of keeping affordable practice spaces open. Former member and Gatineau-based electronic musician Nicolas Lavoie said it was an important space.
“It was an artist co-op, but also a laboratory of new ideas. I enjoyed working there—not only to help make the [model of sharing a] space work, but to meet other people and be surrounded by the creation of art. Even though we had different disciplines, we got along well because we were all serious artists.”
From the beginning, one of the goals of the space was to provide an affordable space to pursue creative work. The atmosphere was welcoming. Visual artists tended to use the space mostly during the day, while it was predominantly musicians at night.
“It had a studio feel to it,” said Lavoie, who also used the space to produce an LP that will be released early next year. “Practicing there helped me raised the bar.”
Studio space is a definite need for the artistic community,yet there is a lack of places to fill this niche. In particular, it is difficult to find affordable spaces. With Le Temporaire, the studio ultimately closed because the costs of renting and running the space became too high to be sustainable under their business model.
Financial pressure leading to a space closing is a story we see far too often. Constantly losing venues and practice spaces are crippling our region’s music industry.
“As artists, we need places to work and places to play,” said Lavoie. “Ottawa and Gatineau are great places to develop and produce cultural ideas. You don’t need to move right away if there is support for you to evolve and grow as an artist . . . it doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to work.”
Lavoie has so far been unable to find another area that suits his needs. Practice spaces are an essential part of this ecosystem, yet they don’t often get recognition or support from public-sector stakeholders.
Still, the picture isn’t entirely grim. While the pressures and challenges are very real, there is no shortage of people willing to step up.
As for 75 rue Saint-Rédempteur, the building has new tenants: an artist collective called Triple 7 opened their doors on October 20. It’s a different business model entirely – they seem to be focused more on live entertainment, venue rentals, and providing creative services to support external events.
Given that Triple 7 in hull have scheduled several events—includ- ing a jam session, a clothing swap, and a documentary screening—the indications are good that a community space will continue to exist in the heart of Vieux-Hull.