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City of Victoria heralds first-ever music strategy

Support aims to revitalize pandemic-affected sector that had $463-million impact in 2017
According to the City of Victoria, the local music ecosystem created 3,630 direct jobs in Victoria, contributed $223 million to the region’s gross domestic product and had a direct output of $463 million to the local economy. (Courtesy of City of Victoria)

The City of Victoria has completed and unanimously endorsed its first-ever music strategy in an effort to amp up the industry that contributed 3,630 jobs and $223.61 million to city GDP in 2017.

“While earning a living as an artist is not easy, this Music Strategy has the power to connect people, bridge cultural divides, support the city’s tourism industry and fuel job creation,” said Mayor Lisa Helps in a release following the strategy’s endorsement by the music advisory committee and adoption by the council on Nov. 4.

“A city with a strong music ecosystem supports its musicians at all stages of their careers, drives economic value and contributes to making places more vibrant and attractive and enhances the city’s livability.”

The first of the strategy’s five years (ending in 2026) will focus on pandemic recovery for musicians and music organizations, including support for free programming in public spaces such as parks, transit, tourism hubs and downtown public spaces, as well as a music symposium to gather the sector during Canada Music Week in late May.

It was created from feedback gathered in 16 roundtable discussions, interviews with over 100 music industry and policy representatives and an online survey of 1,498 people, according to the city release.

The strategy’s five major notes include the reduction of regulatory policies (such as busking requirements); the preservation of existing music spaces and development of new ones; building capacity for artists to develop lucrative music careers; helping create access to broader audiences for local artists; and engagement on collaborations to build new music.

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According to the city, Victoria is home to the highest number of music educators and venues per capita when compared to Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax.

The narrative of Victoria’s musical history is “one of diversity and talent of the highest quality,” the release stated, listing singer-songwriter Aidan Knight, Nelly Furtado, Hot Hot Heat, Indigenous artist Black Belt Eagle, Current Swell, Frog Eyes and others as examples of that wide range of genres and talent.

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