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Alberta should 'harness creative capital' of music industry in post-pandemic recovery, report says

A report released Thursday by a non-profit group dedicated to fostering Alberta’s music sector shines a spotlight on the important economic and cultural contributions it makes to the province.

Sector accounted for $2.1 billion of the provincial GDP in 2017

A wide-ranging study of Alberta's music sector argues it can play an increasingly important role in the cultural and economic life of the province. (Angelina King/CBC)

A report released Thursday by a non-profit group dedicated to fostering Alberta's music sector shines a spotlight on the important economic and cultural contributions it makes to the province.

West Anthem commissioned the international consulting firm Sound Diplomacy to produce the report, which it calls a Music Ecosystem Study.

"It's the first fulsome study of Alberta's diverse music industry and ecosystem that we know of," said the chair and co-founder of West Anthem, Andrew Mosker — who is also president and CEO of the National Music Centre in Calgary — at a press conference held jointly with other participants in Edmonton.

Mosker noted the report is only a snapshot in time, and one that was done before the COVID-19 pandemic upended everything.

But he said the study's unique breadth and depth — over 3,040 respondents participated in the two online surveys between November 2019 and January 2020 — will help policymakers understand better the ways in which the music sector can be a strong driving force for renewed prosperity and economic diversification in Alberta.

"If ever there was a time to harness the creative capital of the music industry in our province, it would be now," a preface to the report says.

Andrew Mosker, chair and co-founder of West Anthem and president and CEO of the National Music Centre in Calgary, says the study released Thursday is the 'first fulsome study of Alberta’s diverse music industry and ecosystem.' (CBC)

"When West Anthem began laying the foundation for a music ecosystem study, we never could have predicted what our world would look like today. COVID-19 sent shock waves through Alberta's music ecosystem."

According to the study, the total number of jobs the music sector generated and supported in the province in 2017 reached 21,261 — 7,107 in Edmonton and 8,435 in Calgary.

The sector accounted for $2.1 billion of the provincial GDP in 2017.

The report says the province could do more to "diversify opportunities and encompass First Nations, Métis and Inuit heritage."

And it suggests there are opportunities for repurposing dormant spaces for use as music hubs.

Minister of Culture Leela Aheer said there are signs the sector is already starting to rebound from the big hit it has taken during the pandemic.

"With proper health measures in place, we can begin to rebuild our music ecosystem," she said.

"Now is also the perfect time for West Anthem's report on the music industry in Alberta. It is providing valuable insight so we can all sing from the same song sheet as we grow and strengthen Alberta's music sector."

West Anthem says it hopes the study can serve as a road map for Alberta to become more connected, diverse, resilient and prosperous.

"As we adjust to our ever changing new realities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance music plays in uniting communities, contributing to mental wellness and providing nourishment for creativity cannot be denied," the report said. 

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