In 1987, the West End Cultural Centre founders snapped up a beautiful, crumbling church (built in 1896) on the corner of Ellice Avenue and Sherbrook Street and established a music-centred arts facility in one of Winnipeg’s oldest neighbourhoods. After several years’ closure for renovations in the 2000s, the new and improved, vibrant blue building brightens up the busy city corner and advertises its mission with funky interlinking guitars mounted over the entrance. With a reputation for being one of the first “green” music venues in Canada, the Centre is committed to sustainable practices in all aspects of operation.
Its community outreach programs offer musical education to youths, and the non-profit Centre is also a hub of interesting events and performances. There are occasional tent-pole shows by mainstream artists such as Ron Sexsmith, Feist, Joel Plaskett, Neko Case and Lyle Lovett, but the centre also prioritizes smaller acts like Whitney, Timber Timbre, Champion, Raleigh, Joey Cape, K.J. Jansen, Walt Hamburger, punk band Distances and the New Meanies, and hosts many dances, literary readings and festivals. 28,000 people attend shows and events each year in this functional and welcoming space, which won the Community Excellence Award at the 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards.
The West End Cultural Centre houses two distinct performance spaces; the Ventura Concert Hall and the smaller Assiniboine Credit Union Hall. The former is a royal blue theatre with a medium-sized stage, a narrow, two-row balcony and a capacity of 380 people — without a bad seat in the house. Assiniboine Credit Union Hall is a more intimate venue with an 80-person capacity, ideal for shows with a cozy, house-show vibe. Both spaces are wheelchair-accessible with a lift up to first level, and people of all ages are welcome to all shows.