Advertisement

Making Edmonton a music city: plan suggests the way forward

Click to play video: 'New strategy looks to grow Edmonton’s music scene'
New strategy looks to grow Edmonton’s music scene
From Nashville to New York, a thriving music scene is a draw for tourists. One group wants Edmonton to make its own mark on the music scene someday. But as Morgan Black reports, they'll need help from taxpayers to make it happen – May 30, 2024

A new report has some suggestions on how to transform Edmonton into a music city.

Resonant Energies: A Music City Strategy for Edmonton offers a path forward to build and strengthen the local music scene and culture for all levels of government, businesses, venues, associations and musicians.

After more than a year of research, it proposes three focuses: more musicians, more infrastructure to support them and more government funding.

“You need to have coordination around infrastructure — like music venues, it could also be infrastructure around funding, associations,” explained Andrew Mosker, the co-founder of West Anthem. “The second reason is regulatory and government — bylaws around safety, bylaws around nighttime economy, bylaws around funding as well.

“Third and finally, to bring it all together, you need people. People include artists, music industry professionals, professionals that run businesses, leaders that run associations.”

Story continues below advertisement

The report suggests public and private partnerships.

Proposals range from reviewing Edmonton’s busking guidelines and parking issues around venues to funding requests.

Click to play video: 'Number of local music venues slowly shrinking in Edmonton'
Number of local music venues slowly shrinking in Edmonton

“Just underlining that we do need help from all levels of government,” said Tyson Boyd, owner and operator of the Starlite Room.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.
For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.

Get breaking National news

For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

He says Edmonton’s music scene was hit hard when COVID shut venues down.

“We were having struggles before the pandemic. I think a lot of that is from old methods and practices really, being reliant on single-stream revenue sources like alcohol. A lot of habits of changed recently, not just because the pandemic. There’s cost of overhead. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a number of venues close.

“I still believe that our scene and musicians are really strong, but the infrastructure has been shaken and it’s been a hard recovery. I think there’s plenty of room to grow, we just need to identify the biggest problems and help invest and rebuild back again, stronger,” Boyd said.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: '‘The state of live music in Edmonton is grim at best’: local promoter'
‘The state of live music in Edmonton is grim at best’: local promoter

The report and subsequent strategy were a joint effort from West Anthem (formerly the Alberta Music Cities Initiative), the government of Alberta, Alberta Music, and the National Music Centre.

Mosker says music can be a driving force for economic growth, wellness, tourism and cultural exchange.

“A vibrant music scene has been demonstrated in other cities around the world to provide important avenues for tourism, important avenues for when conferences come to various communities, gives them opportunities to explore the city, the culture of the city in the daytime and the nighttime. And thirdly and most importantly, it gives the city a chance to develop its voice musically.”

He calls the strategy “a vital blueprint for Alberta’s music industry, and part of our ongoing work to establish more music-friendly cities in the province.”

Story continues below advertisement

In 2020, music contributed an estimated $1.7 billion to Alberta’s GDP and supported over 20,000 jobs, the report found.

Click to play video: 'Alberta music venues create campaign calling for support'
Alberta music venues create campaign calling for support

Singer-songwriter Cynthia Hamar said the potential of the strategy is exciting and gives her hope.

“There is this undercurrent that I feel… that you have to be somewhere else to really make it in the music industry, like you need to go to LA or Nashville or Toronto, go somewhere, go somewhere,” Hamar said.

“I love it here. I don’t want to go anywhere. So, hearing that we’re going to do something about that and draw more people here and actually create this culture that could mirror some of these other cities that are bringing in artists, that’s pretty cool.

“There’s just so many musicians here and we don’t hear about them,” Hamar said. “I’m constantly discovering a new artist and realizing: Oh, my goodness, they live in Edmonton!”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Alberta’s live music sector gets government funding boost'
Alberta’s live music sector gets government funding boost

Sponsored content

AdChoices