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No physical store, no problem, says government pot regulator

Instead of a government-run storefront merchandising plan the new policy will rely on private enterprise to sell to what’s expected to be a huge marketplace.


The one store approach had been criticized in any case because it would have woefully underserved the local market, though more outlets would have been rolled out in later years.


Instead, the new government’s private model will see bricks and mortar outlets open April 1 instead.


Windsor and Essex County still doesn’t know how many stores will open locally though the new government will release details as it continues to formulate the private retail sales strategy.


Where does that leave the Liberal government’s Ontario Cannabis Store, overseen by the LCBO?


It still exists and is very much in the cannabis sales game, and it will still be serving the public when sales begin Oct. 17, only that it will operate the online sales website through which shoppers can place marijuana orders.


“The Ontario Cannabis Store welcomes the direction from the Ontario government to focus on launching our online retail store and begin establishing a wholesale distribution network to supply cannabis to legal private stores in Ontario once legislative requirements are put in place,” OCS president Patrick Ford says.


The new website will be run through Ottawa-based private retail portal Shopify.


“The site is complete and final testing is underway,” Ford said.


More details will be released soon, including about supply agreements and delivery methods.


What happens to any leases the OCS signed with local landlords for government-run physical stores that now will not be needed?


The OCS says these costs are “minimal” and that current leases “will be honoured and we are reassessing the plans for these locations.”


How about people hired to staff those locations?


Says the OCS, in response to questions from WON.com, “very few store-specific staff” had been hired and those that have are being reassigned “to new roles where their social responsibility and product knowledge training will be useful elsewhere in the organization, such as in online support.”


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A Covid-sensitive festival space in downtown Detroit

Detroit’s top downtown developer Bedrock is bringing live entertainment and a festival atmosphere to the city’s core and adapting it to pandemic protocols. Decked Out Detroit plans a drive-in movie theatre and a concert site.  The temporary attraction would include a movie screen, stage, food and beverage concessions, and stalls for 77 vehicles, according to a Downtown Development Authority document, reported by The Detroit News. Also possible is a “no touch” play area for kids. It’s all part of the Decked Out initiative to draw people downtown, even in winter and even during the pandemic. “Bedrock remains committed to creating a safe, festive and family-friendly environment downtown Detroit throughout the winter season and beyond,” company officials said in a statement. Meanwhile the company is “investing millions and working with a number of partners to imagine new socially distanced and innovative attractions.” – 1/13/21

Photo: Emagine Entertainment



Detroit rock legend caught Covid inside family bubble

Detroit rock legend Suzi Quatro has recovered from Covid-19. Quatro, now a resident of the UK, told the Daily Mail that she was taking uber precautions against the virus. But she caught the bug from her pre-teen grandson, ironically part of her family Covid bubble, at a family dinner at her home. She thinks he must have got it at school. Quatro, known for her leather suits on stage and who has sold 50 million records, has a new Christmas album, My Heart and Soul (I Need you Home For Christmas). – 12/14/20

Photo: Wikipedia


Windsor's avant- garde festival catalogue online

Windsor’s own Media City Film Festival, an avant-garde internationally acclaimed festival created in 1994, is taking its catalogue of films online. As part of the launch of THOUSANDSUNS CINEMA some 60 films - short and long – will be available between Dec. 2 and 23. These include films by international renowned Canadian filmmakers such as Canada’s Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland. Fest director Oona Mosna said the cinema will provide a “veritable treasure trove of artists’ cinema as a beacon during a time of global hardship.” The films will be available to a worldwide audience. New films will be added on a rolling basis.  – 12/2/20

Image: Kevin Jerome Everson/ Trilobite-Arts DAC/ Picture Palace Pictures

Former U of W art instructor dies

Canadian artist and former University of Windsor art instructor Sylvie Bélanger is dead at the age of 69. Born in Quebec she had a teaching stint at the university in the 1980s and 90s. She died of cancer in Montreal last month.  Bélanger was a strong Quebec nationalist, even publishing the manifesto of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). After nationalists lost the 1980 Quebec referendum she left the province and studied fine art in Toronto while establishing her own artist career. Besides having an artist residence in Windsor she taught at the State University of New York in Buffalo, New York. Former colleague Ginette Legaré told The Globe and Mail that Bélanger has a terrific rapport with her students. “She had total generosity towards the work of others, whether students, peers or strangers," said Legaré, adding it would be difficult to walk down the street without former students stopping her. – 11/18/20

Chimczuk and Baby House museums re-openings  “unknown”

Museum Windsor – in other words the rebranded umbrella term for theChimczuk Museum and Francois Baby House, almost a stone’s throw from one another downtown – remain closed at least until the end of the year. “Museum Windsor along with other Recreation & Culture facilities, at the direction of (city) council, will remain closed until December 31, 2020, with an unknown opening date,” says Cathy Masterson, Manager of Cultural Affairs for the city. The newer Chimczuk museum took over the first floor of the Art Gallery of Windsor building and the Francois Baby House on Pitt St. has been a longtime city historical museum. Meanwhile, the Art Gallery of Windsor, in the same Riverside Dr. building as the Chimczuk, re-opened earlier this month.  Why the different openings? “The Art Gallery of Windsor is a tenant of the city's and is operated through its own board of governors,” Masterson says.  “Their board would be responsible for determining their opening date.” - 10/28/20

Photo: City of Windsor

Local artist Denial's work to be featured on Detroit building

Windsor artist Denial aka Daniel Joseph Bombardier’s mural will be replicated on the lower part of an innovative building in Detroit’s Eastern Market. The four storey 40,000 sq. ft. Glass Mural building will eventually house retail and offices.  Netherlands-based architecture firm MVRDV will print colorful murals within a transparent façade around the building. “This project is unlike anything Detroit has ever seen,” Marvin Beatty, a partner with FIRM Real Estate, told The Detroit News. Denial’s work has been featured around the world. In Windsor, his murals are gloriously displayed in WIFF Alley, connecting University Ave. and Chatham St. – a shortcut between venues for those attending the Windsor International Film Festival. Bombardier describes himself as a pop and mural artist “whose aerosol and stencil art works critique contemporary politics, capitalism, consumerism and the human condition.” Bombardier’s art has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, Houston, Austin, New York, Toronto, Melbourne, Dubai, Miami and Vancouver. – 10/1/20

Photo: MVRDV

Online exhibit features images from the early months of the Covid-19 lockdown

Windsor-based Media City Film Festival has announced a new online exhibition space called Dark Dark Gallery. It’s inaugural show is Radical Acts of Care and is on view until Sept. 26. The exhibit offers a “multidisciplinary experience,” according to a release. It brings together moving image artworks, photography, drawing, performance, poetry, and activism, “all from an incredible roster of international artists.” Among offerings are Iranian poet and film director Forough Farrokhzad's The House is Black (1962), which was made while the director lived in a leper colony. As well, several items were made during the early months of the current coronavirus lockdown. These include multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Cauleen Smith's COVID Manifesto (2020) and a series of artist audio talks. – 8/28/20

Detroit museum promises its patrons that it will do better

Detroit’s cutting-edge art museum, embroiled in scandal, wants visitors to know it is doing everything possible to rectify problems. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) last month fired its executive director after a kind of uprising by scores of staff against Elysia Borowy-Reeder. An anonymous group called MOCAD Resistance in early July accused the director of creating a "a toxic work environment" characterized by "various racist micro-aggressions, mis-gendering, violent outbursts ... and tokenization of marginalized artists." Borowy-Reeder, who started at MOCAD in 2013, said in a statement that she regretted she had to learn about her termination via press release, "after an investigation I disagree with, and was not interviewed for." She also apologized for “any harm I caused.” The museum now pledges on its website to be “committed to taking every measure possible to ensure our employees, artists and the broader community enjoy a creative environment that is respectful and inclusive.” – 8/11/2020

Photo: MOCAD Detroit


48-Hr FlickFest "Lockdown" ed online, awards tomorrow 

For the first time the Mark Boscariol 48-Hour FlickFest is now online. Two weeks ago, 32 teams of filmmakers quickly hustled and made short films with a 48-hour deadline. It’s an annual tradition of Windsor’s very popular fall film festival though usually seen during the fest itself. As of noon today all films were available on the WIFF YouTube channel. Organizers urge the public to watch them before a virtual awards ceremony tomorrow at 8 pm, which can be watched on the WIFF Facebook page. – 6/18/20

It's sort of like Jane Austen selling shoes at the local mall

If you like Jane Austen, have ever worked in retail, perhaps have a love for shoes, you might love Windsor-based author Heidi L. M. Jacobs’s book Molly of the Mall: Literary Lass and Purveyor of Fine Footwear. The book just won the 2020 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. While Jacobs is now an English and History Librarian at the University of Windsor the book is focused on her home town of Edmonton and a job she had at the gargantuan West Edmonton Mall while a university student in the 1990s. Publisher NuWeest Press's website says the book is named for “one of literature’s least romantic protagonists, Moll Flanders.” With Jane Austen influences, blogger Kerry Clare of Pickle Me This says of Jacobs, “Honestly, she came out of nowhere, the novel about a woman who is obsessed with 19th century literature..…I loved this book.” – 6/9/20

Canadians win against director of cult classic film 'The Room'

A cult hit of a film, The Room, which has been shown at the Windsor International Film Festival, was the subject of a victorious lawsuit by a group of Canadian filmmakers who had made a documentary about it. The Room, directed by Tommy Wiseau, was made in 2003 and is considered so bad it’s good and won the hearts and minds of a subculture of fans, who laugh, shout out lines from memory and even, at pivotal moments, throw spoons at the screen. Ironically, the Ottawa documentary filmmakers thought they were honoring Wiseau by making their film, called Room Full of Spoons. But Wiseau wanted creative control of the movie and threatened legal action, getting a temporary injunction against the doc’s screening. However, last week Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Schabas ruled against Wiseau, saying his negotiations with the Canadian filmmakers were in “bad faith” and his behaviour “oppressive and outrageous.” The doc can now be shown at festivals and midnight screenings everywhere. – 5/13/20

New Detroit conductor sheltering in Toronto

Jader Bignamini, the Detroit symphony’s new conductor, is sheltering in Toronto during Covid-19. Bignamini, who replaced longtime maestro Leonard Slatkin, made his debut in January to great fanfare and has a six-year DSO contract.  The exuberant new music director decided to stay in Toronto because “it's a little safer here than Italy,” according to the Detroit Free Press. Bignamini was scheduled to make his Canadian Opera Company mainstage debut last month in Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida. His formal DSO appearance is expected in December with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. – 5/5/20

Photo: DSO

Jewish film festival now postponed

As might be expected, the city’s oldest film festival, scheduled each spring, has been postponed for 2020. The 18th edition of the Ruth and Bernard Friedman Windsor Jewish Film Festival has been put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak. Jay Katz, executive director of the Windsor Jewish Federation, said due to circumstances created by the pandemic, organizers don’t have a new date. “It’s not really possible to do much planning the way things are, Cineplex is closed, who knows what our horizon is,” he said. Devonshire Cineplex cinemas have traditionally been the site of the festival. Katz declined to announce any titles of the booked films because “that would ruin the suspense and we’ll make a big announcement when the time comes.” The festival shows 10 films over four days. It was scheduled to run Monday-Thursday April 27-30. The festival is the city’s oldest. By contrast the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF), held in autumn, last year celebrated its 15th anniversary. – 4/3/20</i>

Theatres announce COVID-19 policies

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