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Calgary kicks off Year of Music

2016 is now, officially, the Year of Music in Calgary. Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a proclamation outlining the multitude of music events taking place in Calgary this year, as well as recognizing the talents of Calgary musicians and the economic benefits of the music sector, at an event in the observation deck of the Calgary Tower yesterday.

“Calgary is home to a vibrant music scene. Each year our city produces hundreds of festivals, events, concerts, shows and performances in venues ranging from elegant concert halls to local parks to vintage clubs filled with character,” the proclamation reads. “This year we celebrate the extraordinary talents of musicians who make their living here, the burgeoning music economy and all those whose efforts contribute to the musical vitality of our community.”

Cited among the reasons that 2016 will be such a remarkable year for music in Calgary are:

  • The 45th annual JUNO Awards, taking place April 3rd at the Scotiabank Saddledome
  • The launch of Studio Bell, home of Canada’s National Music Centre, opening in East Village this summer
  • The 60th Anniversary of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
  • The 50th Anniversary of the Alberta Ballet
  • The 30-plus musical festivals that take place in Calgary annually and enrich the city’s cultural environment

The announcement coincided with the launch of this year’s One Yellow Rabbit High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016. The event runs from January 7th through 31st, at 14 venues across Calgary.

The event also revealed the songs that make up the Calgary Songs Project, which compiles 30 songs released by Calgary artists over the past 30 years, in celebration of the High Performance Rodeo’s 30th anniversary. The list, compiled by the High Performance Rodeo, songwriter Kenna Burima, and the Calgary Cassette Preservation Society, can be heard in a variety of ways during the Rodeo:

As part of the Year of Music celebrations, Tourism Calgary has launched a new website, www.pushplaycalgary.com, which features live music listings and markets Calgary as a destination for music tourists. The Year of Music could bring an economic boost to Calgary’s tourism economy, said Tourism Calgary’s Jeff Hessel in MetroNews.

“What makes next year special is that we have the Junos, and the opening of the National Music Centre definitely makes it a very special year,” said Hessel. “We’re here to increase the economic impact of tourism for Calgary. If we can do anything that increases incremental visitation and spending for Calgary, then we’ll do that.”

Mayor Nenshi also touted the economic and city-branding benefits of music in an address at the Calgary City of Commerce last month.

“At a time when the Canadian dollar is low, it’s an opportunity to attract tourism right now. I love music, but it’s also a marketing opportunity to rebrand ourselves to a national and international audience about the culture, the vitality and the life here in the city,” the mayor is quoted as saying in MetroNews.

In the same article, the National Music Centre’s Andrew Mosker backs up the mayor’s statements on music’s economic impact, pointing to the Alberta Music Cities Initiative’s Fertile Ground report, which outlines a strategy for a stronger provincial music sector. Music Canada authored the report in 2014 after being commissioned by the NMC to take a critical look at Alberta’s music landscape.

The Year of Music celebrations continue tonight, with the launch of Music Mile, which recognizes the stretch of Calgary’s 9th Avenue from the Blues Can in Inglewood to Studio Bell in East Village as a music mecca. Home to live music venues such as Ironwood Stage & Grill, The Lantern Church, Festival Hall, and Vagabond Calgary, Music Mile brands the area as a formal music district where fans can find live music any day of the week.

Invoking the success of music districts such as Nashville’s Broadway and New Orleans’ French Quarter, Music Mile organizers spoke of the value of branding the location of Calgary’s music scene in an interview with Global Calgary.

“All over the world there’s this notion of a place where you go for music, not just a venue,” said Bob Chartier.

”Everybody sees this as a place-making project – having a district, rather than just a club to go to,” added Meg Van Rosendaal.

With all of the action happening in Calgary in 2016, it’s clear that Year of Music is more than a slogan. It’s a reflection of Calgary’s rise as a cultural hotspot and live music destination. For more on all the events happening in Calgary this year, see the video below, and visit www.pushplaycalgary.com.

This website made possible with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.