New program for Emerging Musicians

Local musicians take to the streets of Barrie this summer to perform original music. Twelve singer-songwriters selected for the new Emerging Musician’s Program will have earning and performing opportunities as well as expanded development and training to further their careers.

The Emerging Musicians Program replaces the former Street Performers Program.

“We were undergoing a program review and felt it was the right way to move it,” said Amanda Dyke, Barrie development culture officer. “It’s an evolution of the program. (We) see it as the way we can best serve artists in our community – turn it into a music incubator, giving them adding training and marketing resources in exchange for performing downtown.”

The city partnered with the Ontario Musicians Cooperative Inc. (OMCI), a new not-for-profit  member-owned social enterprise. OMCI  acquired a grant from the federal government to hire some of the emerging musicians who are still in school and provide them with a summer job. All of the emerging musicians in the program will have access to the support (writing, photography, graphic design), training and workshops and all will be able to busk this summer but only the students will be paid.

A total of 30 musicians, of all ages, auditioned for the program earlier this spring. Auditions were open to the public. A panel of judges, made up of music/entertainment industry professionals from outside of the community along with representatives from the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) and OMCI, selected the final 12.

“We’re always so impressed by the amount of talent that comes out to these auditions – new and younger performers each year that come out and wow us,” said Dyke. “The growth in previous (talent) is pretty phenomenal. That’s why we chose to hone their craft. It’s been really cool to see the evolution in them and I am excited to see how the program can help them and evolve.”

Some of the emerging musicians are still in school – many at the post-secondary level – and some have already completed their education. Some have more experience performing and recording music than others. Many are actively working on their music careers and are currently working in the industry. Some were part of last year’s street performer program and are returning for another year.

This year’s Emerging Musicians include Melina Hanke, Kasey Kohring, John Anderson, Madison Mueller, Karyssa Enick, Tori Hathaway, Joseph Vautour, Sheldon Forget, Ian Haworth, Bridgette Anderson, Lyric Dubee, Megan Baillie.

The musicians will be performing Tuesday to Sunday afternoons and evenings at different spots in the downtown core, from city parks to spots along the waterfront – key gathering places – as well as at some major events until the end of August. They will also be performing as a part of Rock 95 and Cool FM’s patio program which rotates to different local restaurants every Tuesday evening.

Photo: Kasey Kohring is one of several returning musicians who participated last summer

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