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Old Town Tourism Company Hopes to Convert Historic Building to Live Music Venue

Last year was a particularly rough time to be a travel agency, but one local company is trying to reinvent themselves.

Classical Movements, a wing of travel management and tour company Blue Heart Travel at 711 Princess Street, is a local tourism agency that specializes in travel focused on international classical music venues from South Africa to Prague. But with the pandemic effectively killing their industry over the last year, Classical Movements has filed an application to adjust the Old Town business into a live music venue.

“The past seven months have been perhaps the most difficult in our 28-year history,” the company said in the application. “Our business has come entirely to a halt. As we straddle the travel and live music industries, two of the hardest-hit by the COVID shutdown, we are facing a total loss of revenue for the foreseeable future. All of our business (concerts tours and festivals) was cancelled this year and we do not have any contracts for our core business in the future. There will be a longer delay for our business to return to normal because full choirs and orchestras will need to be able to meet for rehearsals and concerts, domestic and international travel restrictions will need to be lifted, and most of them will require a vaccine in order to go on concert tour or attend one of our festivals.”

Classical Movements said core business will likely not return until late 2021 or, more likely, 2022. The company had to lay off two employees permanently and nine more were furloughed, but eventually returned with reduced salaries.

“Despite all this, we have reinvented ourselves to pull through this crisis and lead the charge for the return of live classical music,” the company said. “We launched a new virtual education division that includes virtual festivals, individual and group workshops, instrumental master classes, and we are planning more virtual events such as a big sing with guest conductors. Unfortunately, none of these virtual events have brought in much income.”

Now, the group is hoping to convert the 711 Princess Street headquarters into a small live music venue.

“Since our property at 711 Princess Street has been empty since everyone started working remotely, we came up with the idea of having small live concerts, which have been the only source of regular income for us,” the company said. “Our small live concerts and other ventures act as both a stopgap for our company, but also to play a leading role in reviving the classical music industry. Until touring and travel returns, we are committed to doing the best we can to keep artists and audiences engaged. We are continually developing projects that help out-of-work musicians. Through this, we also hope to lead the way in helping the performing arts industry to revive and return as soon as possible.”

The building has a total of 8,491 square feet, and the company is hoping to use both the indoor and outdoor space included in that total for small concerts. The building is known as The Rectory and was built around 1785, according to the application. It was originally the church rectory for the nearby Christ Church, but has been a commercial space since the 1960s.

Classical Movements said it would require temperature checks for all those attending and both audience members and staff would be required to wear face covering. Chairs would be six feet apart with assigned seating.

The company said it would expect to host concerts four days per month, six months of the year. In the application the company said it would attempt to find other solutions to the income problem if the permit is denied, but said that they would likely end up selling the property.

“These are extremely difficult and unprecedented times for all of us,” the company said. “We are trying to do the best we can for our employees, local music organizations and musicians, and other local businesses out of work or with reduced income, and the community. Our hope is to return to our core business as soon as we are able.”

Image via Classical Movements

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