Red Gate Community Update, September 2017


The Red Gate is first and foremost a community space. Its entire existence is an expression of the community's need for spaces for cultural experimentation, and we try to fulfill that need as inclusively as possible. It’s not our mandate to support any particular styles or genres, or any particular sub-set of the scene, but to be open to participation by anyone in our community as long as they display a necessary minimum of respect for the space and the other users of it. We don't tolerate abusive speech or behavior from anyone. We take allegations of abuse seriously, and follow up on every single one, which means we do our best to investigate the facts, speaking individually to those directly involved, and take the actions we deem necessary and appropriate on a case by case basis, up to and including outright banishment from the space.

In the last few months there’s been a sudden increase in accusations involving members of our community, largely related to a closed discussion group set up for the purpose of allowing abuse victims to warn others about potentially dangerous individuals in the scene. This is part of a general trend in society at large to finally bring to light very real, serious, and deeply-entrenched problems of abusive and toxic behaviors, which is a long overdue and altogether positive development. We’ve done our best to support this process within our own community, by refusing access to individuals who we have good reason to believe to be predatory, violent, or otherwise present a danger to the community, and by hosting a series of harm reduction and consent workshops over the last several years, in order to facilitate a wider public conversation around these issues. This doesn’t by any means guarantee that we’ve identified every potentially dangerous person, or that attending or participating in a workshop guarantees that someone’s words are consistent with their actions.

No space can ever be claimed to be 100% safe from such individuals, and this is particularly true of an open-access community space like ours. The only assurance that can be made is that we’re striving to improve our ability to identify potential hazards of all kinds, and do our best to minimize them. This includes the physical safety of the space, such as the recent improvements we made to our fire safety equipment and procedures at the behest of our friends in the Vancouver Fire Department! But the term “safe space” is these days most often associated with spaces in which users, particularly those belonging to various marginalized demographics, are protected from unwanted, invasive, and abusive interactions of the type that are either actively tolerated or willfully ignored in more “mainstream” venues. And we strive for this type of safety as well, without making the claim or pretense that we are an absolutely “safe space” in any definitive sense. We do this with individual acts of “policing” when the situation demands it, but beyond this we try to also look at these issues in a systemic way, as part of a process of shifting an entire culture away from exploitive, abusive and manipulative power dynamics, towards a culture of solidarity and mutual respect.

If the goal is to shift an entire culture in a positive direction, simple banishment and social ostracism is not a particularly effective tool. It’s just another way of avoiding dealing with the underlying issues, which are social in nature. Even less effective is random outbursts on social media and/or washroom walls, as cathartic as this may be. Open, direct, and sincere communication is what is going to move this process forward. If you want to know if someone works here (or has ever worked here!), ask us! If you think someone is an abuser, tell us! Good ways to do this: send a message to our Facebook page, send an email to, show up in person and ask to talk to one of the organizers.

We are also aware that there are many cases in which affected individuals, particularly victims of abuse, are reluctant to be personally identified, so if any of the above methods feel too exposed, we have put an anonymous contact form on our website at If there’s anything you think we should know about, please fill us in! We’ll also be continuing to organize community-based workshops on these issues, beginning again in October. We’re still finalizing the dates but there will be an announcement about this soon.

Final point: we think the Vancouver music scene is better than it’s ever been, literally bursting with talent, and yet it is also facing its greatest challenge, which is simply finding and holding onto spaces in the middle of a catastrophic real estate bubble. If we’re going to survive, we need to develop and strengthen all of our mutual networks of support. This includes, in part, holding our friends and acquaintances accountable for destructive behavior, but it also includes helping them to break bad habits and move forward. Rather than splintering into factions, we need to be pulling together and fighting for the continued existence of independent culture in Vancouver.

Become a Member!

The Red Gate is now offering membership! Members will get special mailouts, as well as discounts at all of our shows, plus you can help us keep this place going, for only $20 a year!