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$15M Grant Sets Up BC Music Fund

At Warehouse Studios in Vancouver yesterday, Michael Bublé stepped up to support Premier Christy Clark's big ticket music biz initiative. Photo: Siobhan Ozege, Music Canada
At Warehouse Studios in Vancouver yesterday, Michael Bublé stepped up to support Premier Christy Clark's big ticket music biz initiative. Photo: Siobhan Ozege, Music Canada

Coinciding with the release of an exhaustive research report entitled B.C.'s Music Sector: From Adversity to Opportunity, provincial Premier Christy Clark announced a $15 million grant to help create a B.C. Music Fund that is intended to both support and keep local musicians in B.C., and help develop the local music and recording industries. "If we can become the L.A. of Canada for film, why can't we become the Nashville of [Canada] for music,” she said.

The B.C. Music Sector report was largely driven by President Graham Henderson's team at Music Canada and Music Canada Live’s BC members. Music Canada Live Board Chair Jesse Kumagai (from Live Nation) was quick to congratulate Clark on the new funding, stating that “the Government of British Columbia is acknowledging the power of its music economy and taking the decisive, necessary action to deepen the capacity and potential of its music industry."

“This is an historic day for the province,” Henderson said at the time of the announcement. “The creation of a BC Music Fund, as part of a fulsome strategy to strengthen the province’s music industry, will enhance BC’s competitiveness as a location for the production and presentation of music.”

The grant announcement and the launch of the Music Canada report took place at Vancouver’s famed Warehouse Studios, owned by Bryan Adams who has been supportive of the initiative since inception. Helping the announcement score media attention was the presence of Adams' management stable-mate, BC-raised superstar Michael Bublé, who contributed a foreword to the report and who is making himself available to tout the initiative's opportunities. He noted that the money would have "an incredible impact. Today the rock stars are cheering for you,” adding that "It's never been tougher to develop a career as an artist" than it is today.

At the launch, Premier Clark outed herself as a teenage punk rock fan, recalling that the first gig she saw was a double bill of legendary punk bands D.O.A. and Pointed Sticks at the Italian Cultural Centre. She also cited Green Day as another fave.

The report’s introduction states that “British Columbia has a proud music heritage, with iconic international artists, robust infrastructure and talented professionals. But today these assets are at risk. In the face of tough challenges, action is urgently needed to reverse the decline of BC’s music sector and to unlock its potential as a cultural and economic driver for the province.”

The report notes that B.C. punches above its weight in the international music scene, with a raft of A-list stars including Bublé, Adams, Nelly Furtado and Sarah McLachlan, is a thriving sound recording and record label production hub, and that live music is a significant cultural force among the province's communities.

Nevertheless, the report notes that the local industry is in serious decline.

The impact of external global pressures such as the economic and artistic changes brought about through advances in digital technology notwithstanding, the report says that there are pressures closer to home that can and should be addressed.

Incentives for artists to stay in, or move to B.C., the reduction of red tape around liquor licensing of venues and at festivals, as well as support for school-based music education are all initiatives the report says are needed to revitalize this sector.

Some 26 recommendations are made in the report, including proper planning for new music venues when land use decisions are made, and the appointment of a municipal music officer to serve as a liaison between music businesses and city halls, and having an advocate for music tourism. That latter recommendation has already been acted upon in such cities as Toronto and London, Ontario.

The fund will be coordinated by Creative BC.

B.C.'s Music Sector: From Adversity to Opportunity can be found online here