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As Music Space closes, Yellowknife musicians wonder what comes next

Mary Kelly's Music Space closing will be a loss for lots of artists and music teachers. "For me, its raised a question," says Kerry Wheler. "I feel like it should be a public institution rather than an entrepreneurial project."

'Safe and secure and supported' is how one musician described Mary Kelly's venture

Mary Kelly opened Music Space in downtown Yellowknife two years ago. When it closes, some professional musicians and music teachers will lose an important place for teaching, writing, performing and sharing music. (Maurice Gunning)

Last week, the owner of the Yellowknife Music Space, Mary Kelly, announced on Facebook she'd be closing down at the end of June.

The Space was the second winner of the Win Your Space YK and has been open for two years giving musicians a place to practice, make, teach and share music.

The news hit some local musicians hard. 

"As a professional musician, it's been … a lifeline to be able to be active, be creative, feel safe and secure and supported and in turn be able to give that back as much as I could in my own capacity," said Carmen Braden.

Braden used the space throughout the winter as her office and has composed new songs, recorded an album and even attended world premiers from there.

"It's made me feel like I'm literally in a community of music making, whether it's young people or professional musicians who are coming in and then of course Mary Kelly herself who's commanding all of this and doing her own work with so many organizations."

Kerry Wheler, a music educator and co-director of Yelowknife's Music Together program with Kelly, also commends Kelly's work on creating an inclusive and welcoming space.

"Human beings are musical beings and we need to create opportunities for us to exercise that and to practice that and to share and celebrate that together with our community and having a place like Music Space gave an opportunity for those things to happen," Wheler said. 

Carmen Braden plays piano in the Yellowknife Music Space. Braden has been using the space throughout the winter as her office and has composed new songs, recorded an album and even attended world premiers from there. (Submitted by Carmen Braden)

She said it was great Kelly was able to make this happen and offer a place for musicians, but said it should not have to fall on one person's shoulders.

"For me, its raised a question," she said. "I feel like it should be a public institution rather than an entrepreneurial project."

Wheler has spoken to a few people at the city about this and plans to approach city councillors with the idea.

Braden and Wheler are both very thankful for the effort that Kelly has put into making Music Space a success.

"[I'd] just like to really honour the work of Mary and the vision that she's had over time to conceive this idea and to take that risk to create a business with this sort of intention of community minded music education at the heart and music access for all," said Wheler. "She's really to be commended for her hard work and diligence and insights through that whole process."

"What Mary's done here has been really tremendous over the last couple of years and I want to applaud her efforts and the people who have helped support her. So even when something rises up to take on the responsibilities and activities that happen here, and I really hope something does, it'll have big shoes to fill," said Braden.

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