When William Ellis and Jordan Tannahill took over a dilapidated Kensington Market barbershop three years ago, they had no idea how successful Videofag would become. The queer arts hub has served as the incubator for countless projects and artists over its life, becoming a critical meeting point for creators from around the city and across the country.
Last night, Ellis and Tannahill announced what will be the fourth and final season of programming. Daily Xtra caught up with the boys to chat about what’s coming up, the decision to fold the space and working together after breaking up.
Daily Xtra: What’s on the agenda for this coming year?
William Ellis: It’s really crazy. Karen Hines’ new show Crawlspace in September is going to be pretty incredible. New Fries will be doing a residency in October and we’ll also have an exhibition curated by Ken Moffatt and Heather Bain. There will be an exhibition of new work by Lido Pimienta. Chad Dembski, Rob Kempson and Jesse LaVercombe are all presenting new theatre pieces. We will also have Montreal choreographer Dana Michel working here. And that’s just the next couple of months.
Jordan Tannahill: There’re a lot of artists we’ve been really excited by and have been wanting to work with for a while, and collaborations that have been sitting on the back burner. Since this is going to be our final year, we realized these things have to happen now if they’re going to happen at all.
This will be the space’s fourth and final year. When you started it, did you have any idea it would last this long?
Ellis: Not at all. We signed a one-year lease, and our goal was just to get through that first year. Four years is crazy. But it’s also hard to remember what life was like before we started doing this.
The space has been unbelievably successful. Why close up shop now?
Tannahill: The discussion about that has always been on the table. We’re kind of always talking about the end, how and when that might happen. We want to spend time in other places and do other things. We also have ideas that we want to do under the moniker of Videofag but that aren’t tied to this specific space. The commitment to having to pay rent every month has sort of held us back from doing those things. But we’re both really excited about what Videofag could look like outside of this storefront space.
What’s been the most important thing you’ve learned over the process of running the space?
Ellis: I guess, for me, the biggest thing I take away from all this is that if you have an idea, to just do it. That’s cliche I know, but whatever. Taking risks and being unsure is just a part of the process. Also, that it’s possible to continue to live and work with your ex.