1. The Good Will Social Club
2. The Handsome Daughter
3. Honourable mentions: The West End Cultural Centre, The Park Theatre
Based on how many nights University of Winnipeg (U of W) students have collectively spent at The Good Will, it’s hard to believe it only opened two years ago.
The Good Will’s seven owners have made it a goal to provide some kind of programming essentially every night of the week, whether it’s a band, karaoke or a storytelling night. The maxed-out schedule, adjoining Little Pizza Heaven and selection of coffee and beer have made it a chameleon of a venue.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge,” co-owner Tyler Sneesby says of finding performances. “The criteria is, is it good music, is it music that people want to see, is it diverse?
“Obviously, indie rock is the dominant genre that comes here, but the subcultures of music in Winnipeg, there’s not one subculture that’s big enough to sustain itself. There’s so much crossover. Even though we could have a hip-hop act on a Friday and maybe rock on a Saturday, you may see the same people at all three events.”
The Good Will’s been forward in promoting a safe space for LGBTQ+ folks, a value that Sneesby says is a reflection of what the community was asking for.
“I think we sort of exposed ourselves and opened ourselves to the community and to scrutiny,” Sneesby says. “We want it to be a community hub and an ongoing conversation, and we’re asking for help so we can ultimately sort of grow with the community. I think people responded to that in a way that makes us proud and even more willing to do right by the community.”
He adds that being so close to the U of W has made it a haven for students.
“For better or worse, we’ve seen students here spend entire days,” he says. “They can have their lunch and dinner and merge into party mode, all in the course of the same spot.”