Making Smithers a ‘music city’

Chamber of commerce and arts council hope to strike right chord marketing local music.

The Smithers District Chamber of Commerce hosted a social on May 30 to introduce local stakeholders in the Bulkley Valley Music industry to a developing music strategy.

According to Chamber manager Heather Gallagher, the project began last spring with a ‘Music City’ initiative toolkit distributed by Music Canada.

“It listed all of the elements that [were] needed to be a Music City, like local musicians, fabulous halls and venues for their concerts, wonderful music teachers that inspire our youth, great festivals like [the Midsummer Music Festival] or the Classical Music Festival, and the Chamber’s own Lawn Chair Lounge,” Gallagher said.

Project coordinator Liliana Dragowska said the local Chamber of Commerce and Bulkley Valley Community Arts Council held a meeting to discuss the initiative.

“We as a group decided we need a music strategy, and we need to understand how music contributes to our economy here in the Bulkley Valley before we can start marketing ourselves as ‘Smithers: the Music City’ … There were some notes that came out of it, and Heather took those notes and applied for some funding through Creative B.C.,” Dragowska said.

“This music strategy had three goals. One was to inventory everything music in the Smithers area – so businesses, organizations, venues, performers, teachers – and then provide them with a survey to help us understand, what are the economic impacts? So, you know, what is the budget of the Bulkley Valley Folk Music Society and the Midsummer Festival? What are teachers making? What are performers making? How many live performances are venues hosting? That was that second goal, collecting all that information, now we have that drafted. The third goal is to create some recommendations that could help foster and grow this music sector,” Dragowska said.

She and Heather Gallagher announced to those in attendance that there are 16 total recommendations in the strategy meant for three categories of stakeholders: the municipal government, the Chamber of Commerce, and those working in the music industry. Examples include a change in policies surrounding home occupation and busking, cross-cultural collaboration, creating new events, and increased networking.

One of the recommendations includes the creation of a website, which Gallagher said is already underway.

“Along with the funding we received from Creative B.C. to do a music strategy, we’re happy to report that an NDI application was also successful; Northern Development Initiative Trust will provide funds towards the development of the ‘All Things Music’ website,” Gallagher said.

Dragowska said she hopes the strategy will instigate further collaboration amongst those involved in the region’s arts and culture scene.

“We’re a small demographic of people, and we cross all sectors, and it’s amazing what we have, the opportunities we have going. We just wanted to bring attention, in this project, to the fact that music is part of this local economy, and that we can create a bit of a strategy together by bringing all your comments together, and use this collectively as a tool to hopefully bring in more funding and bring in more projects and collaborate to create a stronger community,” Dragowska said.

The finalized strategy will be formally presented to the Smithers town council on June 26.

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