Manitoba heavy music community rallies around promoter hit by coronavirus cancellations

Winnipeg’s heavy music community is banding together to support a longtime local promoter who has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cory Thomas of Ninjacat Productions is known for — among many other shows — the annual Manitoba Metalfest event at the Park Theatre, which brings in bands from across North America and beyond.

When local music venues began temporarily closing their doors due to health concerns, Thomas had to cancel a number of planned events — including the festival — which left him out almost $10,000.

Thanks to community support via a GoFundMe page, however, he’s well on his way to recouping his losses.

“Cory and I have been friends for a long time, and he was mentioning to me with COVID-19 making us cancel all of our shows, he was out a ton of money,” said Rachel Quelch, Thomas’ co-worker at the Park.

“He was saying things like, ‘I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to do this anymore,’ and I said, ‘not on my watch’!”

Quelch told 680 CJOB she’d seen online fundraisers work in similar situations, so she started the GoFundMe page… and both she and Thomas have been blown away by the results.

For the first time in 17 years we are cancelling Manitoba Metalfest. We are hoping to re schedule for later in the year. Tickets purchased for the April date can be transferred to the new date. Refunds can be done now if wanted. Please stand by and stay safe. #ninjacatproductions #parktheatre #manitobametalfest #manitobametalfest2020 #manitobametal #winnipegmetal #flattenthecurve

A post shared by Cory Thomas (@ninjacat_productions) on

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Thomas. “When Rachel mentioned it to me, I thought, ‘no one’s going to be able to donate. Everyone’s out of work.’ I see people in the music industry saying they’re not able to pay their rent.

“It’s far surpassed what I thought. It’s amazing. I can’t believe it. I never thought it would go this far.”

As of Friday morning, the fundraiser was at more than $6,800 and climbing.

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