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‘They have children they are trying to feed with art’: musicians ask for city’s help as venues close down

Musicians gathered to discuss how to save Kelowna’s music scene

Kelowna’s musicians are asking for more places to play and for help from Kelowna City Council.

The closure of venues like Grateful Fed and The Habitat last year has musicians on edge that pretty soon they will have no where to play. But it’s not just musicians that Lauren Hjalmarson, and Dylan Ranney are hoping rally together through a series of sessions supported by the City of Kelowna while they work on their Cultural Plan 2020-2025.

The 10 goals the city hopes to achieve through the cultural plan are; to enhance existing support programs, optimize existing cultural facilities, find more and different kinds of affordable cultural spaces, integrate heritage as part of cultural vitality, enhance cultural vitality at the street level, build personal connections to cultural vitality, measure cultural vitality and understand the outcomes, capitalize on culture for tourism and the economy, converge and connect the cultural community, to integrate culture into plans and processes and use innovative funding approaches.

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During the second session, held at Fernando’s Pub, a popular music venue, musicians crowded around a table to discuss ideas to help keep the thriving music scene alive in Kelowna.

“We are really missing a midsize venue with 300 seats, we have ones that seat huge audiences and that is too expensive because the performing arts community doesn’t have that kind of money,” said Hjalmarson, who works with the Okanagan CoLab is and also an actress .

She said that the arts community also needs a space where they can hold early shows that start at 7 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. or midnight to accommodate audiences of all ages.

“We also need to shift to accommodate a broader demographic of audience. The community here tonight (March 18) is talking about how they feel, a lot of people in the Okanagan would love to come to a show and they want to enhance their quality of life. But a lot of people in the Okanagan, they don’t know what is going on, and the venues that the shows are at are not the ones they want to go to.”

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The 16 musicians at the table discussed the need for a multipurpose cultural space where members of the arts community could practice and perform, an app and working with existing establishments such as the media and Tourism Kelowna to attract tourists to the events happening in town.

Ranney, , a musician and co-owner of The New Arts Collective (The NAC) who has been in Kelowna for 14 years hopes that council will support local talent in the city by helping fund a space where they can perform.

“I know some incredibly talented artists and if they were supported in the right way they could be winning JUNO Awards and they live here in Kelowna. They are trying to make a living they have children they are trying to feed with art. It’s not just art that is self-satisfying, it is art that is enriching our city,” said Ranney.

“I’m not just reaching out for myself. Artists are met with a wall when they start talking about money. There are grants and you can apply for them but once you start looking into these grants there is a skill set that 99 per cent of artists don’t possess, and that is being able to write an analytical multi-page grant application in a legalistic format.”

Ranney hopes that the city will create another format in which artists can apply for funding or grants.

Hjalmarson will gather the feedback from the two prior sessions will submit the feedback to Kelowna Council.

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@sydneyrmorton
sydney.morton@kelownacapnews.com

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