Vancouver Music Fund to Elevate and Amplify Indigenous and Underrepresented Voices
by Yasmine Shemesh
It’s a first, not just for the Vancouver, but for North America, too. The Vancouver Music Fund — a one-time, $300,000 civic fund specifically dedicated to supporting Indigenous artists, as well as groups who have been historically marginalized — has been launched.
“I think it’s significant that Vancouver is really leading the way, in terms of prioritizing putting music funding support toward communities that have not really had that direct kind of support,” says Jarrett Martineau, the City of Vancouver’s cultural planner for music.
The Music Fund has three programs attached to it. The Demo Program, which affords the recording of a demo under the mentorship of a BC-based producer. The Music Video Program, that supports the creation of music videos in order to build an audience. And the Industry Catalyst Program, which backs collectives. The grants were structured this way intentionally, Martineau explains, to create stepping stones in terms of success and growth. It’s about breaking down barriers around access. Not only do the grants not require any money to be put up front, but you don’t even need to be a citizen of Canada to be eligible.
Martineau is also the host of the weekly CBC Music series Reclaimed, has a Ph.D. in Indigenous Governance, and is the co-founder of the contemporary art and music festival, New Forms. As someone who works at the interchange of art and social movement, he was drawn to this work with the city partly because of the specific time we’re in now.
“I feel like, more than ever, there is a collective movement that’s happening to really blow open the way that people understand Vancouver music, to see the incredible diversity that’s here,” he says. “For me, a big part of the opportunity I saw was to be able to help elevate those voices in a way that was not trying to position this as something exceptional, but to recognize how fundamental it is to the music industry and the music community as a whole.”
The Vancouver Music Fund is being administered by Creative BC, a non-profit that supports the development of arts and culture in the province. The fund is part of the city’s Vancouver Music Strategy, which is a larger initiative focused on closing the gaps in the local music industry to make it more sustainable. Further recommendations for the strategy, which has been shaped by a number of public community-driven conversations, will go to Council on September 10.