Another Cultural Icon Closes Shop

The Friends of Music have announced that after their next concert on April 15, they will suspend operations.  Their announcement says that “There will not be a 2018-19 concert season. Instead, the FOM Board will seek a new direction for the organization.”  The problem was financial due to declining audiences and rising costs.  Their demise follows on the heels of the shutdown of the Shelter Valley Folk Festival and Port Hope Jazz Festivals last year – although neither of these were Cobourg based, their audiences included a large number of Cobourg people. (The Port Hope Jazz Festival may yet be resurrected).  To many, the thought that Friends of Music would shut down would be a shock since they have presented classical music for 43 years.

Friends of Music Logo
Friends of Music Logo

There are now recently arrived alternatives such as Les Amis Concerts and productions at the Loft so it makes you wonder if the total audience is dropping or if it’s spread too thin. The same audience probably patronizes the Operatic broadcasts at the Capitol from the Met but I hear that their audience is also dropping.

Some would make the case that the taxpayer should support “culture” like this but councillors in both Cobourg and Port Hope seem reluctant – especially if audiences are small and the organization does not pay most of the tab.  Some hope that Cobourg’s Cultural Master plan to be produced over the next 12-15 months will tackle this problem but since none of the stated outcomes was a policy on what (if anything) should be paid for by the Town, this may not come out of the resulting plan.

There’s no doubt that Cobourg (and Port Hope) have a good range of performing arts but it’s always unsettling when a major source is lost.

Last Production by Friends of Music


The Weston Silver Band


April 15, 2018 at 3:00 pm


Trinity United Church in Cobourg

Tickets for this event may be purchased as usual; online (, from the box office (1-905- 797-2295), in person at Victoria Hall in Cobourg (service charge added) or at the door. Adults $46, Youth 21 and under are Free. LJYO special pricing – call the box office.


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Miriam Mutton
13 April 2018 9:17 am

About access to culture … sometimes it takes the hard work of the many volunteers who help make access possible to amazing quality events that otherwise may be missed. Volunteer burn-out can mean we lose such opportunities.

And, often access means one show only. We are fortunate that the Port Hope-Cobourg area is easily accessible from major centres and along major transportation routes. Performers can stop in between their larger venue bookings.

I recall attending a group performance held in Cobourg’s St. Mary High School gym. Part of the group’s community outreach program. A friend suggested we attend, otherwise I likely would not have attended. I became a new fan of the music. One of the performers shared with us that they found the acoustics of the gym surprisingly good given the more formal venues they were used to.

The group? The Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The music and evening was both fun and relaxed.

Old Sailor
12 April 2018 9:54 am

We attend a lot of performances in Northumberland. Including the upcoming April 15 Friends of Music show.The problem for many of us is trying to track or remember what is coming up in the next two months. There are so many venues and different types of entertainment.

An email blast or tweet from the town or some organization once a week with a calendar covering all the upcoming Northumberland cultural events would help a lot of people organize their entertainment spending.

Reply to  Old Sailor
14 April 2018 10:14 am

Cobourg Internet has a list of entertainment events.

12 April 2018 8:30 am

Taxes are high enough already in Cobourg without having to subsidize the low numbers who want their “culture”.
The Master Plan for Culture should realize this fact Up Front. Try User Pays as a test on a few items in this town and see the results that follow…it might be interesting.

Tom Holden
Reply to  cornbread
12 April 2018 2:01 pm

Try User Pays as a test on a few items in this town and see the results that follow…it might be interesting.

Yes, it might.

Full cost recovery admission fees to the Beach, Marina, Vic Park, Vic Hall, Cobourg Community Centre, all municipal Parks & Playgrounds, Jack Heenan/Memorial Arenas, Public Transit, etc. No grants to the 17 organisations being considered for Municipal Community Grants in the 2018 budget. And get the residents of Henry St. to pay for the $1.5M project to replace/upgrade water and sewer lines!

Interesting indeed…

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Tom Holden
12 April 2018 7:05 pm

You forgot the shutting down of the Cobourg Public Library. If individuals want books they can buy them from a book store.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Tom Holden
12 April 2018 11:20 pm

Also this Tom, the Cobourg Museum Foundation, “was successful in obtaining the first of a number of government and institutional grants”.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Wally Keeler
13 April 2018 12:05 am

I like the idea of User Pay Policing. Visa or Mastercard?

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
13 April 2018 9:10 am

First off boys, water lines and sewers are not culture, same for the police…they are necessities…get on topic…but how about a fixed cost per household versus a cost per evaluation of the house…that way it levels things out a bit for everyone, just like purchasing the yearly sticker for your car. Think about it.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  cornbread
13 April 2018 10:34 am

So, that being said, will you call for the closing of the Cobourg Public Library?

Reply to  Wally Keeler
14 April 2018 10:26 am

I’m not asking to close down the library Wally…only that your household should pay the same $ amount in taxes to support it as every other household in Cobourg.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  cornbread
14 April 2018 11:57 am

You’re big on User Pays. Would you apply that to the Cobourg Public Library? You are ok with taxes going towards cultural items so long as everyone is taxed equally for that category of service to be provided by the town. A budget line that says, ‘culture’ is ok if all taxpayers pay an equal amount into it, then the Town could distribute from the pool to various cultural interests based on some criteria?

My curiosity is directed towards Tom Holden, but he appears to be unwilling to answer whether he would apply his severe austerity measure towards the Cobourg Public Library as he would to many many other items. Hmmmm.