· By Rachel Hickey

Live at the Apollo: Cinema turned concert venue engages community with exclusive performance by local band, Excuse Me. 

On Saturday March 6, Apollo Cinema in Kitchener transformed into a concert venue as Guelph alternative rock band Excuse Me. took the stage for an exclusive one hour performance, produced and broadcast live by Good Company Productions.

Hundreds of virtual audience members from Kitchener-Waterloo and beyond enjoyed the free live-streamed concert, while others who purchased the exclusive Apollo Cinema Concert Box enjoyed locally-sourced treats as they watched the show.

The event, supported by the City of Kitchener Music and Film Office, allowed fans of film and music alike to collide and engaged a broad audience that may not have crossed paths otherwise. In a time where in-person entertainment is still not an option, the event gave attendees a valuable at-home experience and provided the opportunity to support local businesses and musicians. 

The state of the entertainment industry  

In Canada, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for the arts, entertainment and recreation sector has dropped by 61 per cent since February 2020. No other industry group experienced a larger decrease, besides air transportation.

Statistics Canada GDP drops 61 percent for entertainment industry

“The film industry as a whole has shifted in incredible and what feels like unprecedented ways,” said Cara Watson, Director of Operations at Apollo Cinema. “For us this means continuing to focus on events and community building with events like this. It's incredibly important to us to work with other local, independent businesses within Waterloo Region and we believe that cross-promotions are integral to building this community.”

“It has definitely been a breath of fresh air to have a show to prepare for and it’s a reason for us all to get in a room and play together,” said members of Excuse Me., who quickly became a local fan favourite after performing at the first ever Live @ 44 show hosted by Good Company Productions in August last year. “People are missing live music, on both the performer and audience side. While streams will never feel quite as visceral as the real thing, we do think it helps everyone get a bit of that feeling we love so much from live music, and that’s important.” 

As the band looked out beyond the stage, the audience wasn’t completely empty, as those who purchased a Concert Box also had the opportunity to submit a photo to be used as a life-size cutout placed in the “audience.” Meanwhile, attendees who purchased the box enjoyed local goodies that included a mystery merch item from Apollo Cinema, movie theatre snacks, and drinks from TWB or KW Craft Cider. 

Collaboration is key

The Concert in a Box concept was first developed by Good Company Productions in May 2020 as a response to the pandemic to keep live music alive by bringing the experience into people’s homes. Since then, it has expanded to collaborate with local businesses.

Thanks to support by the City of Kitchener Music and Film Office who covered costs like musician compensation and matched in kind production services by Good Company Productions, 100 percent of the box sales went to Apollo Cinema. This kind of collaborative event is important as it allows engagement and exposure and supports more than just one local business. Collaboration is key to keep the entertainment industry alive amidst a global pandemic. 

Good Co. team at audio booth

“We're very thankful to both the City of Kitchener and to the Downtown BIA for their continued support in events like these as well as their grant and funding programs. Using their platforms to share our events and help get the word out has been a great help as well.” said Watson.

To support local venues, businesses and musicians, the band encourages community members to buy local and share music and recommendations from the artists and business you love with your friends. “Word of mouth is huge for bands at our level to acquire a bigger audience, and garner more support,” said the band. “We’ve been blessed to receive the support we get from fans, friends and family amidst all the craziness.”

Stay connected

To learn more about how you can support local bands and businesses, stay in touch with Apollo Cinema, Excuse Me., The City of Kitchener Music and Film Office and Good Company Productions

Read CTV Kitchener's coverage of the event here.


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