None of us have had it particularly easy this last year, and every person and industry is facing their own unique sets of challenges. We can all imagine or have experienced ourselves the challenges that live performers have faced during these unprecedented times.
The City of Kitchener has teamed up with The Centre In The Square to develop Create and Connect, a project that will help local musicians increase their following and provide opportunities to pursue projects during the pandemic.
“The pandemic did two things to musicians. Number one, it took away their ability to earn money by gigging, and at the same time, it took away their ability to connect with their audience and grow their [following] and careers,” Bob Egan, The City of Kitchener’s film, music, and interactive media officer said.
Egan and William Muir are the co-administrators for Create and Connect. Egan has been tasked with bringing artistic opportunities and industry to Kitchener.
“Film production in Ontario is a $2 billion industry, and most of that is in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. My job is to attract it out to Kitchener. My job in the music sector is to build the infrastructure to support and develop local musicians,” Egan said.
The idea for the program came about when Egan was talking to local musicians who said that if there was money for local music, the best thing would be to give it to the artists directly.
The Create and Connect program will be giving $1000 grants to 14 local musicians, who will be selected based on project proposals they have submitted.
“The genres that are represented are so broad and inclusive, [and so are the projects that] people are proposing. Whether it’s a single song, an EP, or their ideas for creating a video or a live stream or collaborating with various technicians or artists or musicians or people outside the music field — it’s pretty inspiring,” Egan said.
The winners will be selected by a jury of local musicians from a variety of backgrounds and music styles, who will be evaluating the applications. Egan wanted to step away from awarding grants to high-profile local artists that he calls ‘the usual suspects’.
“Although they may still apply and they still may win, what we wanted to do was to be really inclusive, and to reach out to the entire community, to make sure that the diversity of what is here — both in the population and musical style, is represented,” Egan said.
Egan and The City of Kitchener are hoping this program will be the first step in supporting local artists during these times. They suspect that information from the applications will be able to highlight current issues in the local music scene, and that will influence where investments will be made in the future.