New Fountain School studio dedicated to local music‑scene legend

- February 14, 2023

Veteran Halifax music promoter Greg Clark tours a new studio at Dalhousie named in his honour. (Kate Hayter photo)
Veteran Halifax music promoter Greg Clark tours a new studio at Dalhousie named in his honour. (Kate Hayter photo)

A new Dal studio designed for Fountain School of Performing Arts students pays tribute to an influential local concert promoter who has helped support generations of young musicians in Halifax.

The anonymous donor who funded the space requested it be named after Greg Clark to honour his many contributions to Halifax’s music scene over the past several decades.

“I'm kind of blown away,” said Clark, during his first tour of the studio in late January. “If I had to think of some kind of honour that I could get, this is certainly way up there. It's amazing.”

The Greg Clark Studio will be used primarily for teaching and rehearsal, but also includes recording equipment. It's an important piece of the larger Dalhousie Arts Centre expansion, which includes the state-of-the-art Joseph Strug Concert Hall, practice rooms, rehearsal spaces, teaching studios, and a new home for Dal's Costume Studies Program.

Supporting young musicians

Clark developed a reputation as a heavy hitter in the Halifax indie music scene during its heyday in the 1990s and became known in the city as the leading man behind venue spaces that allowed young people to gather.

“I’m a venue guy, and the city always needs new venues. Anything that can give young musicians more access to exposure,” said Clark. “I'm sure you're going to make great use of this space.”

Chris Mitchell, an instructor at Dal’s Fountain School of Performing Arts, said this focus on emerging artists is exactly what the spirit of the new studio space is all about. He says it will serve as a studio where students can practice and work on their recordings.

“In the past few years with the advent of the Fountain School, we've started an entire new stream into Pop music, and now we're promoting it all,” he says. “You know, all the other genres other than classical and jazz— Blues, R&B, Pop. We’re just developing all of those with students, and this facility will help foster that.”

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'The kids are the key to everything'

In 1980, Clark opened a video arcade called Backstreet Imports on Prince Street in Halifax. Inspired by underground record store hangouts in New York City’s Greenwich Village, he eventually expanded the space into an all-ages music venue.

“I had the video arcade Backstreet, and I decided to do an all-ages club there because all the kids were heading into my arcade and spending money on the games,” he said.

That inspiration transfigured into more spaces over the years, including Club Flamingo (later Pub Flamingo) on Gottingen Street — a place also known for its youthful punk scene.

To Clark, the key to these venues was always with the young musicians.

“I really think that the kids are the key to everything,” said Clark, “And they got to have a place to play.”

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