Entertainment

Regional strategy will bring area musicians together

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Tourism Simcoe County, along with Barrie, Orillia and Collingwood, are collaborating on a regional music strategy.
FILE PHOTO

Tourism Simcoe County, along with Barrie, Orillia and Collingwood, are collaborating on a regional music strategy. FILE PHOTO

Musicians from across the region will soon be getting their collective tunes together.

Tourism Simcoe County, along with Barrie, Orillia and Collingwood, are collaborating on a regional music strategy to give the local industry a kick-start on its back beat.

There are a growing number of festivals, events and music activities in the region but co-ordinating efforts can expand the music scene, according to Kathryn Stephenson, manager of Tourism Simcoe County.

“We thought that is was important to understand the market and see if there are ways to support this industry to increase the economic and tourism impact it can have in our communities,” she said.

“We need to work collectively to establish ourselves as a growing region for live music, a place where musicians and those in the commercial music industry can make a living wage and have a great quality of life,” Stephenson added.

That’s music to the ears of Chas Hay, of the Central Ontario Music Council, who is front and centre in helping develop the strategy.

The Barrie-based industry veteran is a concert promoter, television producer, artist manager and music journalist.

His music television work has been featured on CMT, CBC, CTV, Bravo and CMC Australia and has earned him six Canadian Country Music Awards.

“A regional music strategy has significant economic implications for (the county),” he said. “It gives the area an advantage. When you have a rich culture and music scene, people want to move to that city and work in that city.

“There will be a domino effect.”

But the strategy isn’t just about the money, Hay added.

“It will provide us with the ability to educate children, adults and young bands and get them involved with music and find places and spaces to play,” he said. “It gets them involved with more live and original music as opposed to them playing recorded music or (listening to) a DJ or cover bands.

“It will be good for the communities and bring people in.”

The Central Ontario Music Council selected Nordicity Group and CultureCap to develop the strategy. They will be holding initial invite-only consultations this month with other meetings to be scheduled.

Musicians interested in learning more or wishing to offer input can visit www.rto7.ca/Public/RTO7-Connection/October-2017/Simcoe-County-with-Barrie-Collingwood-and-Orillia.

Funding for the $90,000 strategy came as a result of a successful pitch to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport and the RTO7 (Regional Tourism Organization) partnership program.

The Tourism Simcoe County contribution was $15,000 along with $5,000 each from Barrie, Orillia and Collingwood.

Contributions from the partner organizations are then matched and doubled by the RTO7 and the ministry.

The strategic plan is expected to be completed by March 2018.

imcinroy@postmedia.com