The Company House is going to be seeing some love this weekend. Haligonians Chantal Caissie and Jen Ochej have put together Love Does, a benefit concert headlined by folk darling Amelia Curran. The event was conceived as a response to the polarizing reactions of HRM residents to the announcement that Chris Brown was to play a concert in Halifax.
"The day the concert was announced," says Caissie, "I ended up posting a tweet saying somebody should put on a benefit concert on the same night with all of the proceeds going to local women's shelters." After a lot of positive feedback Caissie and Ochej got together and started to plan.
"There was so much controversy and so many people were upset that he was booking this show," says Ochej. "But a lot of people were asking, what good is this actually doing, boycotting the show?" Caissie adds: "This concert isn't a boycott or a protest. We're just trying to open up the conversation within the city. We wanted to show what women's shelters do in the community and show how much of an issue domestic violence is."
With Brown no longer scheduled to play his Canadian shows this summer due to personal and health reasons, the organizers of Love Does hope people will continue to talk about domestic abuse, even if that conversation doesn't include pop stars. "There was that week afterwards where it was all anybody was talking about but then it just kind of quieted down," says Ochej. "Why that happened is part of the motivation for wanting to do this concert. That's why we want to keep this conversation going."
They also want to bring the conversation a little bit closer to home by focusing on domestic abuse as it affects the residents of our own communities. With the costs of the concert being covered by a slew of generous donors, all of the night's proceeds will be donated to three Halifax area women's shelters: Bryony House, Alice Housing and Adsum.
"It's about turning this conversation into something positive for the shelters in the city," Ochej says. "We're not concerned with whether or not he's coming here anymore. This isn't about one person, it's about a much larger issue."
Bryony House offers emergency services and has been in operation since the '70s, when it was the first transition house in Nova Scotia. Alice Housing, a second stage housing centre, offers a variety of services for women and children leaving domestic abuse. Adsum is a service centre for homeless and at-risk women. "There are large amounts of people who really need these services in Halifax alone," Caissie says. "These shelters are doing a really amazing job and we want to promote that. Also to get the word out that if people out there are in a relationship where they're suffering from domestic violence there are places for them to go to."
Caissie and Ochej were able to put this event together in a very short period of time, which Ochej says is a testament to the generous spirit of Halifax's arts community. "The fact that we were able to do this is such an amazing confirmation of the sense of community in this city."
Along with Juno winner Amelia Curran, Saturday's benefit will feature local acts Jenny MacDonald , Dana Beeler and Stewart Legere.
Even though Chris Brown is staying home, that doesn't mean you should too. --Michael Lake