Vancouver Music Fund dedicates $300,000 to demos, videos, and other boosts to Indigenous and underrepresented artists

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      The City is dedicating its entire new $300,000 Vancouver Music Fund to boosting Indigenous and underrepresented voices--mostly through music videos, demos, and mentorship.

      Yesterday, it opened up applications for three new grant streams, administered by Creative B.C.: 

      • A demo program: "Supporting new and emerging artists from underrepresented groups to create demo recordings and engage in mentorship and skill development with a BC producer."
      • A music-video program: "Supporting the creation of music videos for new and emerging artists from underrepresented groups to build audiences."
      • An industry-catalyst program: "Supporting projects that develop Vancouver’s music ecosystem and build the capacity of underrepresented groups." 

      The City had announced the new fund in January, around the same time Jarrett Martineau was named its new cultural planner for music.

      Through his research and community and industry meetings, he identified several gaps for artists—guided by a city mandate to support Indigenous and underrepresented groups like people with disabilities, the gender-diverse, and minority-language speakers.

      "The purpose of this grant is to acknowledge where a lot of the most compelling work is coming from," he told the Straight by phone. "While there is eligibility across a lot of funding out there, we've seen through the way the grants are being distributed that there are a lot of communities not being represented."

      The fund is the first music-specific investment of its kind in North America—and the first civic or municipal grant in Canada—directly dedicated to supporting to Indigenous and a variety of underrepresented groups.

      "I know a lot of artists who don't know the grants are out there and even applying for a grant would be a barrier," Martineau said. "There's this incredible amount of talent in Vancouver and people don't know where to find it or see it."

      One way people discover music these days is via online video--a place where Martineau, through community consultation, found a lack of funding for artists. The Music Fund grant offers $1,000 to $10,000 to complete a video for a new single.

      "YouTube is the most watched and listened-to platform to access musis," he said. "Even with the decline in video channels [on TV], if anything they're even more important now. And they're basically the calling card for the artists."

      For creating demo recordings, Martineau and his team felt it was integral to work mentorship into that learning process--especially for Indigenous artists who have never created a pro demo before. Vancouver-based artists can apply with a B.C. producer for a $2,000 grant to cover the recording expenses for one to two songs. 

      "A lot of artists in the community don't know much about the industry and don't know industry professionals, like recording engineers," he said. "Yes, people can record independently now...but we had some artists say, 'I don't even know where the studios are in this city.'"

      On the industry-catalyst side, Martineau explained that another issue musicians identified was the challenge of having an established nonprofit organizations to qualify for most grants. "A lot were working as ad hoc collaborations and right up till now they haven't seen funding as being for their own community," Martineau explained. "They've been organizing their own events because they don't have funding." Eligible initiatives include music conferences and workshops, publications, showcases, and digital platforms.

      Applications for the programs open June 13. Applicants may apply to Creative BC at  Individuals and collectives can apply, in addition to companies and organizations.

      Artists can apply for 100-percent of eligible expenditures, without the usual requirement for matching funding.

      The deadline for applications for all three programs is July 24.

      Applications will be scored by Creative BC staff and a panel of industry professionals.

      Info sessions take place today at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre at 1 and 6 p.m. and Tuesday, June 25 at Creative B.C. at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

      The program is part of the city's larger Vancouver Music Strategy, which looks at boosting the city's music ecosystem. Its next Community Conversation Series event happens next Wednesday (June 26).