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Friday, October 2, 2015

Q & A: Jeremy Banks, the new director of Bus Stop Theatre

Halifax's independent theatre co-op hired a new executive director last month

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 3:32 PM

New executive director Jeremy Banks & outgoing director Clare Waque - THE BUS STOP THEATRE
  • New executive director Jeremy Banks & outgoing director Clare Waque
  • The Bus Stop Theatre

Last month, The Bus Stop Theatre announced the hiring of its new executive director, Jeremy Banks. After incorporating as a non-profit co-operative in 2013 and establishing a Board of Directors, Waque's vision to transfer leadership was accomplished with Banks, a west-coast arts and culture administrator who moved to Halifax two years ago. We caught up with Banks for a Q & A about his new position, the value of the theatre, and what the future holds. 

Can you tell me a bit about your background? You're new to Halifax?

New to Halifax? Suppose so. This is year two in Halifax, but I've been here long enough to attend Dalhousie, join Deepwater Church, volunteer on the board of Eastern Front Theatre, work to make democracy better with Springtide Collective, put pianos in public with #PlayMeHfx and join ArtsHalifax, HRM's arts advisory committee. I'm also working with artist Eryn Foster on a project with the Dalhousie Art Gallery and Dalhousie Urban Garden Society - so there's that too. My background is in arts on the west coast, where I founded a festival, managed small theatre and ran marketing for big theatre. From there I found a passion for places where arts and culture meet Urban Design. You quickly discover arts and culture create economic growth - it's one of the ways Ontario created jobs and supported growth during the '08 recession, and it still works to create growth today in the communities that invest in it.

How did you hear about the Bus Stop and when did you get involved?

How can you not hear about the Bus Stop? It's the place for independent, innovative and alternative live events: theatre, festivals, music, performance art, art shows, and I'm totally into that! I attended the Bus Stop first as an audience member, then later started making plans with friends to host shows. Now I'm an Executive Director. Who knew?

Why was this position appealing to you? Why did you take it on?

I took on this role with the Bus Stop because it's a place where urban change meets arts and culture - it's a community hub, a platform for sharing your message and a place that locals have come to know and love - situated in one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Halifax. With that in mind, it's a role doing exactly what I love - bringing together communities, supporting economic growth, and doing it in a way that supports as many people, organizations and performers as possible. In fact, it's the only place of it's kind in the Atlantic Region's largest metropolitan area - a gem found nowhere else in the maritimes than on Gottingen Street.

What do you hope to develop in your time as Executive Director?

I hope to support the legacy and community that Clare has fostered over the years - there's a great community of people who love and support the Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative through their membership and contributions on our board - especially Colleen MacIsaac, our Board Chair, who has worked with Clare since the first murmurs of creating a cooperative. So really - I hope to keep doing what Clare and the Bus Stop Theatre Cooperative have been doing: giving artists, community members and locals a place to perform, incubate and create in Halifax.

  • Christian Aires

What do you think is special about the Bus Stop as a venue and a space?

Clare asked this at a meeting the other day - I think she was fishing for a compliment because ever since coming to Halifax, I've known that the Bus Stop is the place to see unique, sometimes odd, and often groundbreaking performances - its the only place of it's kind in Halifax and Atlantic Canada, and because of that it's often a place where professional artists present new works before taking them nationally and internationally. It showcases not just regional artists, but international ones - a platform to present, connect and grow in a way that just can't be done elsewhere.

What are your favourite kinds of events? Theatre? Music? Etc?

That's a hard question. The best of anything is always a favourite. But THE favourite kind of event for me? The ones that brings everything together. A theatre show that involves a live band and incredible visual art, or an art show that has a great live performance and music, or a concert that's really well-directed - and the best part is when it's not from a professional - like when your friend does a great mixed-media performance over a well-designed mixtape style-musical score that involves eye-dropping visuals and it sells out. That's the type of show you just won't see anywhere else. It's why I love the Bus Stop!

Click here to become a member of the Co-op or for more info on programs and events. 

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sexual assault allegations could kill The Casualties show

UPDATE: Seahorse pulls the plug on punk band’s performance.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 3:45 PM

The Casualties, featuring Jorge Herrera (centre right) - VIA FACEBOOK.
  • The Casualties, featuring Jorge Herrera (centre right)
  • via Facebook.

Update: Looks like the event has been cancelled by the Seahorse.


The Casualties' upcoming performance at the Seahorse might be dead on arrival due to the punk band's history with sexual assault accusations.

The New York band is currently scheduled to perform August 23 at the Seahorse Tavern on Gottingen Street. The Coast has learned one of the opening acts—local band Spew—has dropped out of the show over the online sexual assault allegations which have been made against Casualties’ lead singer Jorge Herrera.

Now, the show itself might be cancelled.

“We’re currently going through the situation here right now,” says Troy Arsenault, the Seahorse’s booking and promotions manager. Arsenault says the allegations about Herrera’s history were only brought to his attention three days ago.

“It’s all fresh to me,” he says. “This is obviously a concern. Especially when it pops up out of the blue.”

Formed in 1990, vocalist Jorge Herrera is the only original member of The Casualties still performing with the band. In 2013, Herrera was the subject of a blog post by a “recovering scenester thirty-something stay-at-home wife and mom” going under the pseudonym “Beth” that claimed he sexually assaulted her as a teenager.

“Beth” claims that at the age of 16, the then 26-year-old Herrera cornered her in a room demanding sex. When she fled, he chased her down a hall, pinned her against a wall and sexually assaulted her.

“The irony of the band’s name, and me being a CASUALTY in my own right, was not lost on me. All these years later and every time I write those words, speak them, re-live them, I choke back vomit. I remember how The Singer smelled, tasted, his jagged rotten teeth, his worn leather skin, how the band argued about not cutting their hair because it was their statement, and mostly how utterly fucking helpless I felt. How scared, dirty, ashamed, used, rejected, confused, alone, and ruined I felt.”

Herrera has faced no criminal charges and none of Beth’s accusations have been proven in court. The initial post did lead to substantial online criticism of Herrera and his band, though, including a Facebook group dedicated to boycotting Casualties shows wherever they occur. 

Other stories about Herrera’s alleged history of predatory behaviour—all untested in court and many of them posted anonymously—have been collected online. Incidents range from allegations of making inappropriate comments to fans, to bragging about sleeping with underage girls and other claims of sexual assault.

“He was trying to drug and rape my friend and i caught on to him put her in bed and fought that fool all the way into the street” —Kidd Heck

“I also have experienced Jorge. I was thrown against a wall and he tried to force himself upon me. I was 16. (15 years ago) I am lucky because I had a group of friends with me. As soon as I read this post, a flood of memories of that day hit me.” —DRo

“How is this shit even disputable. It’s been known for years that this dude is a fucking pervert. I heard about it at least 10 years ago. When NUMEROUS people say that someone has assaulted them over the span of OVER A FUCKING DECADE, do you really need to catch him in the act to believe it?” —Dan

Another common element in the accusations is the depressingly common occurrence of industry peers knowing about predatory behaviour and not saying anything about it.

“We’ve all been in the scene for many years and heard the rumors” —Daze

“By reposting this story, I found out that this also happened to a girl in my town. No words can express how horrible this is, but much respect to you for having the guys to speak out on it. Fuck this guy, and his band, and every “friend”, promoter, and fan who knows about this shit and does nothing. Keeping quiet only allows it to happen to another girl.” —BxNeurotic

Last year the band released a statement about the accusations, describing Beth’s account of categorically false.

“The story was fully disproved and the person spreading this accusation never provided any corroborating evidence to it happening. In fact the opposite happened. Multiple people with direct ties to the accuser have stepped forward to tell the band why they know this accusation to be complete lie. One even went so far as to offer to step forward and to speak to attorneys or law enforcement if need be to clear Jorge’s name.”

The statement also mentions the victimization and "manhunt" Herrera has faced since the allegations of sexual assault were made.

“The mob has lit the torches and wants to see blood. Not a thought is wasted that it could hurt an innocent,” reads the released statement. “We will not stand by, while an innocent man’s life is being ruined. The only thing Jorge can be found guilty of is playing in a punk band.”

Since then, the band has continued touring with Herrera at the helm and stood in solidarity against the online allegations. Something Troy Arsenault actually finds rather strange.

“Usually in these positions people step down right away,” he says. “I’ve got a bucket full of people who have been accused of this sort of thing in the entertainment business who just disappear.”

Arsenault wouldn’t confirm whether any opening acts for the August 23 show at the Seahorse had officially dropped out, or whether the Casualties’ appearance would be cancelled. The bar’s management is currently going through “due diligence.” They’ve contacted the Casualties’ representatives about the allegations and are (as of this afternoon) waiting to hear back before announcing anything. Whatever the outcome, Arsenault isn’t thrilled about being caught off-guard. 

“I would have liked to know this even before we put the offers through, frankly,” he says. “It’s putting the bar in quite a weird position.”

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