Well, here’s their latest press release regarding the situation..
For Immediate Release – June, 19, 2008
CELEBRATED TORONTO PERFORMANCE ARTIST BANNED IN ALBERTA!
Toronto, CANADA – Protect our freedom of speech and expression in Canada, and modernize a primitive Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). That sentence alone has been the war cry and beckon call of awareness for acclaimed Toronto performance artists The Great Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek.
As per The Canadian Charter of Rights: “All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation’s Bill of Rights, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly without malice, judgment, or condition. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society.”
It is the responsibility of the AGLC to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society (including the AGLC), may consider being unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. Artistic freedom is good public policy, but this is reckless disregard for the basic artistic freedom.
Embryo of the story: The Great Orbax Sideshow troupe arrived at ‘Better than Fred’s’ concert venue in Grande Prairie, AB recently for a sold out show booked several months in advance. The Alberta liquor commissioner called the venue at 4:30pm on Friday (the night of the show), and proceeded to point out this AGLC board policy: “Any entertainment that has the potential to be considered bizarre, grotesque or offensive must be referred to the Board for approval before being provided. This includes entertainment involving live animals, but excluding magical acts.”
The board then refused to grant permission for the show and the bar was threatened with a $10, 000 fine and possible loss of their liquor license if the inspectors deemed it to be grotesque by their standards. The show had been advertised through print, web, and radio ads for one month in advance and at a cost of thousands to the venue, which have still not been recouped.
‘Twister’s Night Club’ in Fairview, AB, was also threatened with the same consequence if they were to allow the show to perform the following night. The issues the liquor board had are with three stunts in particular; The Human Blockhead, the Cinder Block Body Break, and the Staple Gun Playing Card Trick. All played with comedic effect and professionalism.
Subsequently, after considerable fan protest had been made to the AGLC, the licensees who had booked shows for the end of the month of April in Banff, Calgary, Cold Lake, and beyond, cancelled all shows after the AGLC threatened to fine the venues and/or revoke their liquor license should the Great Orbax be allowed to perform.
“This matter is not limited to our show, and regardless of whether or not we are allowed to play in Alberta again, this law can censor and affect all artists. From horror to hip hop, the AGLC currently has the right to determine what the public should be allowed to experience, and no group of people should be able to make that decision.” – Burnaby Q. Orbax
As of this press release date the Great Orbax Sideshow has limited access to licensed venues in Alberta, with each show requiring explicit approval from AGLC executive staff.
To interview The Great Orbax, and/or book him for the performances in question, please contact: David Daniloff at: 416-530-2442 – or: [email protected].
To interview Barry Gross, head of the AGLC, please call: 780-447-8600
To interview Robert Pape, the AGLC rep in Grande Prairie, AB, please call: 780-832-3000
To interview John Kriska, venue owner where the ban originated, please call: 780-447-8600