The Smithers District Chamber of Commerce presented their music strategy project at the June 26 town council meeting. Project coordinator Liliana Dragowska made several recommendations to the municipal government including looking into regulations around busking.
“Smithers is a very dynamic musical community with an unparalleled variety of cultural activities reflecting our diverse population … Towns around the province acknowledge the cultural and social benefits of music. We recognize music as a driver of employment and economic growth beyond its common elements. We in Smithers are so rich here,” Dragowska said.
“Music builds community and friendships, and allows people to feel connected, to experience the beauty everyone has to offer. In recognition of the role that music plays in our culture and in our economy, the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce secured funding to create a Music Strategy to support that growth in this economic sector.”
Dragowska reported a survey of local artists indicated that though live performances generated most of their revenue, 50 percent of them make less than $1,000 per year.
“This was reported than less then 10 percent of their total income. We have some work to do here as a community to ensure artists are fairly compensated for their time and talent,” she said.
The Chamber of Commerce made three recommendations to the municipal government. They encourage more planning around arts and culture, permitting non-resident employees in home-based arts and music businesses, and the development of busking regulations.
“Currently here in Smithers, there are no regulations around busking other than the noise bylaw. It limits amplified music. Any complaints received around busking require a busker to stop. Our recommendation here is to create simple and clear busking regulations at no cost to the performer, which encourages the animation of streets in the downtown of Smithers,” Dragowska explained.
“Right now, I think you can just go busk. I hope maybe we can get the word out there that it’s an option. That’s my understanding of it … set up on Main Street, open your guitar case, and you can play music,” said Mayor Taylor Bachrach, adding, “Regulating good music is very difficult.”