In 2016, then-premier Christy Clark asked why Vancouver couldn’t become the “Nashville of the North”. She wasn’t talking, of course, about the cowboys or the bluegrass tunes—both of which are hard to come by beyond a country night at the Roxy—but rather how the city had the potential to become a destination for artists and tourists seeking a vibrant culture. Her remarks signalled the beginning of the B.C. Music Fund—a project which aimed to put British Columbia's music scene on the map.
Running for two years until the beginning of March 2018, the program offered a sizable cash injection into the province’s music industry. Distributing $15 million in grant money, the scheme supported projects including recording new albums, hosting live events, and boosting the profile of local record labels.
With the fund expiring earlier this month, local musicians have been lobbying the NDP to continue the investment. Today, it’s answered those calls. Announcing the launch of a similar program named Amplify B.C., the government has pledged $7.5 of funding to be administered over the next year.
“We listened carefully to advice from people involved in many facets of the music industry,” says Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “I’m excited that our government is creating this new funding program designed to give artists and other music professionals the support needed so they can continue to grow. B.C. has a well-earned reputation for excellence in music production. This fund will help place B.C. talent on the world stage.”
Amplify B.C. will support the scene in four major areas:
Industry initiatives will focus on skills development, research, and training for up-and-coming talent.
Career development will help emerging and established artists.
Live music will fund B.C.-based shows, and improve music tourism throughout the province.
Music company development will make sure B.C.’s music companies are both long-lasting and sustainable.
As Canada’s third-largest music centre, the province’s music industry contributes approximately $400 million each year to the B.C. economy. Dan Mangan—a high-profile recipient of previous government music grants—believes that investment is vital for the region.
“There’s a big economic impact when a government puts money into the arts,” he tells the Straight on the line from his Vancouver home. “People who criticize these programs think someone is being paid to live in a basement and write poetry. The truth is that they aren’t the ones getting the money. It’s going to local studios and engineers, flying in big-name producers to the province, paying publicists, and hiring radio trackers. There are dozens of people who are employed by that grants. That puts a lot of capital back into B.C.
“The ripple effect of the investment is amazing,” he continues. “From the funding for my latest record, we were able to bring in some big producers from America. Now they’ve worked here with a crew in Vancouver, and they’ve built those relationships. Having those connections with internationally renowned musicians does great things for those studios, and when important musicians spend time in Vancouver and become familiar with the city, they’re more likely to come back. It helps us stand out.”
Amplify B.C. will be administered by Creative B.C., a local non-profit, over the next 12 months. More information can be found here.
Follow Kate Wilson on Twitter @KateWilsonSays