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'People are hungry for live music': New entertainment venue coming to Osborne Street

Jenna Priestner and Cory Thomas stand outside of their new venue Sidestage, which they are hoping to open in the fall. April 11, 2024. (Devon McKendrick/CTV News Winnipeg) Jenna Priestner and Cory Thomas stand outside of their new venue Sidestage, which they are hoping to open in the fall. April 11, 2024. (Devon McKendrick/CTV News Winnipeg)
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Winnipeggers will soon have a new venue to enjoy live music and entertainment, as plans are underway to open up a new facility along Osborne.

Sidestage will be popping up at 700 Osborne right next to Park Theatre. Jenna Priestner and Cory Thomas both work at the Park Theatre, and when the opportunity came up to get the building, they jumped at it.

"We have each just kind of wanted to have our own space, and a smaller venue in the city, because we need that now, especially with the Goodwill closing," said Priestner. "It's just kind of an idea that's been floating around for probably at least six months, maybe longer."

Inside the unrenovated Sidestage. A stage will eventually take over the back of the room for live performances. April 11, 2024. (Devon McKendrick/CTV News Winnipeg)

The building used to be Nerman's Books and Collectibles, but the owner retired and sold the store in 2023.

Now, the bookshelves have been removed, and the floor and ceiling have been ripped out. Exposed brick behind the shelves remains – a feature both Priestner and Thomas like – and a few tables have been brought in to fill the centre of the room. Once they are able to start the renovations, Sidestage will turn into a 200-seat entertainment venue, including a bar, and a stage for live performances.

"Cory being the main booker at the Park, he does a lot of shows that have around 200 people. So some of those shows that are happening at the Park will happen here now and if the shows start selling here, we can move them to the Park and vice versa. So it's definitely going to be a nice collaboration between the two of us."

Thomas said they are hoping to book a variety of shows from metal and punk to folk and indie. But he also wants it to be a venue that can host parties and other events.

"I think a people will be chomping at the bit to play here. And we're already getting a lot of interest from bands and tours that are waiting for this room to open. So I think we're going to hit the ground running," said Thomas.

It's empty now, but this is where the bar is expected to be set up in Sidestage. April 11, 2024. (Devon McKendrick/CTV News Winnipeg)

He noted it's important to have a venue of this size in Winnipeg, as everyone really noticed how much the arts were missed when the pandemic hit.

"Now I find things are firing on all cylinders, like all the shows are doing really well. People are hungry for live music, live entertainment. So I think this is going to be great right out of the gate."

The duo are just waiting for permits to be approved by the city before they can start turning it into the venue of their dreams.

"Once we get this space built, we'll be able to figure out how we can sort of configure different types of events, including seated events. It's kind of hard to see how that going to work out without the renovations being done," said Priestner.

If everything goes according to plan, they hope to open the doors in September.

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