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Music strategy a hit with councillors

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Hamilton councillors were singing the praises of creating a music strategy for the city as part of its economic development arts revival.

The idea, said Jacqueline Norton, a business development consultants who has overseen the city’s film and television program, would also add a music office to her portfolio in the Lister Block on James Street North.

Norton said with $50,000 from reserves, a music-specific office would be established, marketing material and a website will be created promoting Hamilton as a music city to aspiring musicians, and businesses. Other North American cities have developed a music industry, including Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee.

In addition, a music strategy committee would be created that would include representatives from the local music business, festivals, and not for profit organizations, she said, to craft how to capitalize on Hamilton’s music scene.

Norton described the strategy as similar to how the economic development department attracts businesses to locate in the area. The strategy can also be used as an incubator for music businesses and artists, and a mentoring program for young musicians. Norton said she wants a stronger relationship with the Hamilton Music Awards organizers, and other music-related businesses in the city.

Hamiltonhas had a film and television office since the city amalgamated in 2001. The best year for the city was 2005 when it earned about $15.6 million. Over the last two years, though, the department has earned annually, anywhere from $7 million to $8 million for the city.

“I’m excited about this,” said Glanbrook councillor Brenda Johnson. “I really am. My concern is the sustainability.”

It is expected, said Norton, a similar amount of money will be requested for the office in 2015.

Hamilton, said politicians, has a long music history, producing such Canadian musical icons as Ian Thomas, and Tom Wilson, and home to legendary Grant Avenue Studios and music producer Daniel Lanois.

And in 2015 will be a big year for music in Hamilton when the community hosts the Juno Awards after a long hiatus, and the Pan Am Games will be holding a number of festivals in the city.

“It’s all exciting to me, of course,” said Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina, who is also a musician.

Other politicians applauded the idea of the strategy, and how it could contribute to changing the city’s image.

“Clearly, there is a lot of talent in this community,” said Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead. “There is a richness here. I’m looking forward to the evolution of the music office.”

 

 

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