Mutual support, more venues needed for Kelowna musicians - InfoNews

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Mutual support, more venues needed for Kelowna musicians

Drummer Patrick Ranney talks about the importance of supporting Kelowna's music community.
March 06, 2019 - 11:45 AM

KELOWNA - Musicians supporting each other is one of the keys to making Kelowna a vibrant musical community, according to participants in a discussion on music venues in the city.

The musicians gathered yesterday, March 5, at one of a series of engagement sessions encouraged and supported by the City of Kelowna as it works on a new culture plan. The session was organized by Lauren Hjalmarson who works with Okanagan CoLab, and is an actor and street performer.

While the session only drew a half dozen participants, they had a variety of suggestions on what needs to be done to grow the city’s music scene. Along with the idea of musicians supporting one another, they'd also like the city to consider the need for new venues in light of the recent closures of the Grateful Fed and Habitat.

“To say that Kelowna has a musical community cannot just be a handful of competing bands that are vying for the same money,” Dylan Ranney said. “It means people making new money. People expanding opportunities. And people bringing in novices and helping give them an opportunity to cut their teeth. That’s what a healthy music community looks like to me.”

Ranney described himself as a drummer and interdisciplinary fine artist.

“There needs to be a rich layer of well outfitted spaces,” Shane Austin, the founder of Okanagan CoLab said. “There needs to be multiple types of facilities accessible in different ways.”

That could be as simple as providing performance space in parks, to the Metro Community converting the old Food Bank on Ellis Street into a 350-seat performance space.

While Metro doesn’t want to turn that strictly into a performance venue, Ranney said, it may accommodate some shows. It will also be the size of venue the city needs – bigger than cafes but smaller than other existing facilities.

Singer and guitarist Patrick Gilmour suggested the city look into a grant program for venues so they can pay performers.

Host Lauren Hjalmarson looks on as musician Patrick Gilmore suggests the city offer grants to music venues in Kelowna.
Host Lauren Hjalmarson looks on as musician Patrick Gilmore suggests the city offer grants to music venues in Kelowna.

Gilmour talked about Riley’s Pub in West Kelowna that used to have music four nights a week, along with other venues that no longer hire musicians or shut down on short notice.

While businesses have to make money in order to remain viable, everyone echoed Ranney’s comment: “I would love to see a space that’s not a drinking hole – a space not centred around substance consumption.”

Critical mass was a concern of Karma Lacoff, who described herself as a cultural worker.

“We’re trying to do things too big,” Lacoff said. “In order to succeed, we have to sell more tickets than you can possibly sell.”

She was happy, therefore, to tell the others about a relatively new website, sidedooraccess.com, that matches performers with venues as small as someone’s living room.

Still, there is a need for bands and their followers to get out and support each other at the venues that are still operating in Kelowna, Gilmour said.

“There needs to be support for people who make the music,” he said. “If you don’t show up and bad mouth the venue, what’s going to happen? It’s going to shut down.”

Input into the Kelowna’s new Cultural Plan will be taken up to March 31 by email at culture@kelowna.ca or by taking a survey on the City’s website here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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