SHERBROOKE – On any given night, in the dead of winter when the mercury dips, you might find a dozen or more people curled up in Meinhard Pfanner’s modest digs in downtown Sherbrooke listening to a live jazz ensemble or a reading from a local author.
Welcome to Culture Club Sherbrooke, the newest arts offering in the community. Pfanner, a German expat from Dusseldorf who moved from Port Hilford last year, came up with the idea in November as a way to keep folks in touch and in tune with local culture.
“I bought an old café and restaurant that was empty and restored it and renewed it and thought, okay, nothing happens here in Sherbrooke, really, except the farmer’s market,” he jokes. “At least, nothing in the way of music or theatre or literature or performance.”
Pfanner, who is retired but has an extensive background in graphic design and arts and culture enterprise, talked to some friends about what they thought the community could use, especially during these dark, Covid times, when social isolation can be at its worst.
“That’s when the culture club concept came about,” he says. “It would be something that would be for the whole community and bring writers and musicians together and put them here.”
With 33 members and growing, the salon appears to be a resounding success (it costs nothing to belong, as Pfanner covers the costs). One recent event featured the jazz combo of Paul Tynan (trumpet) and Jake Hanlon (guitarist), professors in StFX’s music department. Another happening was Anne Simpson, award-winning writer and adjunct professor of literature at StFX, reading from her recently published and acclaimed novel Speechless.
Sherbrooke resident Ian Cameron is a big fan.
“You have this wonderful, little tiny spot where artists can speak and be heard and appreciated,” he says. “Here, they are coming up 45 minutes from Antigonish to talk and play music and they are enjoying it because of then receptive audience and the lack of distractions.”
Later this month, Covid conditions permitting, Pfanner plans to continue with a makeup workshop offered by a local practitioner.
“We will certainly have many more events as the year progresses,” he says.
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal