Nearly eight years ago, I started a small music blog called Ottawa Showbox. I bought the domain name and started going to more shows in order to find a new creative outlet. The truth is I needed something to get me out of a rut I was in, and channeling my passion for music into words seemed like the perfect solution.
2012 feels like a lifetime ago now. Soon after starting the website, I realized that Ottawa musicians really appreciated what I was doing, and more coverage and support of the music scene became more of a mission of mine than a pastime. I became infused with a love for the music community here, and I met a lot of new friends—friends in bands, friends of bands, friends at shows. Ottawa Showbox opened up a world to me that I didn’t know existed. Underneath the surface, creativity was brimming and people were starting bands, playing shows, starting festivals, opening venues, working at record stores, and so much more. I still look up to so many people I’ve met through music, and continue to be inspired every day by them.
A major turning point for Showbox was when Eric Scharf joined in 2013. As a graduate of Algonquin’s Journalism program, Eric came onto the team as a 9-5 professional also looking to channel his love for music in a new way. In his first few years writing with me, he wrote hundreds of articles and covered so many bands it was hard to keep track (hence, he was given the nickname La Machina). Over time, the website grew and we started covering more music, writing different kinds of articles, and finding new ways to support the music community here in town.
In the process, Eric became my best friend and has been my pillar through a lot of good times and bad. From singing at the top of our lungs at shows to mourning the tragic loss of our dear friend JS, Eric and I have been through a lot together over the years, and it is without a doubt that our lives were completely changed when he jumped on board my little music site.
In eight years, Showbox grew into something much bigger than just a website.
Over the years, we’ve kept this engine running and even through some major life changes like new jobs with 60-hour work weeks and a traumatic brain injury, we somehow have kept this passion project going. In eight years, Showbox grew into something much bigger than just a website—we began to promote concerts (a lot of concerts), collaborate with local businesses and festivals, incorporate Showbox as a not-for-profit, and most recently, open up a DIY art space in Hintonburg called Cinqhole with our friend Anthony. Needless to say, our plate has begun to fill up to the brim.
With the last decade in our rear-view mirror, Eric and I have evaluated what the future of Showbox could look like. Do we call it quits after eight years? Do we minimize the scope of our operations? How can we manage to keep going?
The reality is that our lives have changed a lot, and we’re no longer able to keep up with everything that is happening in Ottawa. The two of us are still just as passionate and thankful for this community—one that opened its arms to us so many years ago. For us, Showbox was always our love letter back to that community. But now that Eric and I are both tied up with other important obligations—both in our personal and professional lives—it’s time for change.
As we came to these realizations, an incredibly well-timed opportunity presented itself. Today we are so excited to announce that we will now be directly collaborating with Algonquin College and incorporating Ottawa Showbox into its curriculum as a part of its School of Media & Design. This partnership began in January 2020 with three programs—Journalism (which Eric graduated from, a full-circle moment for him), Radio Broadcasting, and Advertising and Marketing—with more program collaborations to be rolled-out throughout 2020.
This means that Showbox will continue to exist, but with the support of faculty at Algonquin and student contributors from the School of Media and Design. Eric and I will take somewhat of a backseat oversight role as the Editorial Board, to whom faculty and student Editors will report. No changes in the Board of Directors or overall legal structure of Showbox’s not-for-profit designation will occur. We will still maintain relationships with our current non-student contributors, and they’ll still work with us as often as possible.
We believe that cultivating this relationship with Algonquin will not only benefit students and Showbox, but the community most of all.
With the school’s student publication Glue Magazine moving to online-only and Showbox’s limited resources becoming more of a strain, this partnership is a big opportunity to fill a void in this city. Students will gain real-world experience and use Showbox’s industry connections to develop skills in the field, helping build their resumes and providing better career opportunities for them in the future. Moreover, Showbox will produce more content from more perspectives—something we’ve always wanted to incorporate but didn’t have the capacity to do until now.
We believe that cultivating this relationship with Algonquin will not only benefit students and Showbox, but the community most of all. There will be more opportunities for local coverage, as students connect with new people and places in the music scene. More on-campus communication about Ottawa music and events will occur, enhancing the reach of our content with the Algonquin College student body. After all, it has always been (and always will be) a goal of ours to enhance participation in the Ottawa music community.
So, as we start a new decade, we’re excited to start fresh with this collaboration. We hope you’ll continue to engage with us and enjoy new contributions and ideas from a new generation of Showbox writers.
Matías is the founder and editor of Ottawa Showbox, a local not-for-profit music website and concert promotion company. He is also the co-owner of a new DIY art space called Cinqhole. Follow @ottawashowbox on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.