Music offers cultural, social and economic benefits to small and large jurisdictions alike. Yet existing research and resources are focused on large urban centres. So West Anthem talked to folks—city and town council members, chamber of commerce leaders, local musicians, music business owners, and entrepreneurs to develop an understanding of music in rural and small city Alberta. Combined with research from our Music City Strategies work, we’ve developed the following “toolkit” to support all corners of Alberta in building up their local music scenes—take a gander.

Thanks to our project partners who have supported this work along the way…


How to use the toolkit:

Below you’ll find the toolkit organized into eight broad areas.  These come out of a lot of review and chatting with music industry folks. Hover over an area box to see a quick view of what information you might expect. Strike your fancy? Great, simply click the image and you’ll be directed to a page with ideas, examples, and links to resources to help you grow that area of your local music scene.









Frequently Asked Questions
What is a ‘Music City’?

Basically, the idea of a “Music City” can be applied to places of various sizes with diverse populations. Emphasis is given to a mixture of economic, social and cultural impacts. There is no single way to become or be a music city.

Some helpful definitions:

“‘Music Cities’ is a concept, not a definition. All places have music, and all music is of economic, social and cultural benefit. From a neighbourhood to a village, a town to a metro area, a state to a country, your music is valuable.” (p. 5, The Music Cities Manual, Sound Diplomacy, source)

“A music city is broadly defined as a place with a vibrant music economy which delivers economic, employment, cultural and social benefits.” (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, source)

“A Music City is a community of any size with a vibrant music economy. A music economy has the potential to generate a wide array of benefits for their communities, from economic growth, job creation, and increased spending to greater tax revenues and cultural development.” (Music Canada, source)

Where did these 8 areas come from?

We reviewed music strategies/plans/economic assessments from 11 Canadian provinces and territories and six Canadian cities. Through this, we identified 8 broad areas that repeatedly appeared. We used these as possible priority areas to focus on for growth in music or to help raise the profile of music. These are the eight areas you see in the toolkit. It’s important to note that these 8 areas repeatedly overlap and are ideally worked on in combination. Addressing them separately in the toolkit, however, allows us to dive into details in each area.

Where did the ideas and examples for this toolkit come from?

As part of a provincially funded project, West Anthem performed an initial online search of music in small towns, cities, and rural jurisdictions— it revealed a general lack of information and tools targeting small towns and cities.

To bridge this gap and build awareness of the value of music in rural Alberta, West Anthem engaged with small cities and rural jurisdictions across Alberta about the state of their music scenes and how these could be developed or grown. Participants included small music business owners, musicians, festival organizers, City/town Councilors, tourism officers, and chamber of commerce representatives from 13 Albertan towns, cities and regions (St. Albert, Airdrie, Bow Valley Region, Banff, Camrose, Cochrane, Wood Buffalo Region, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Lloyminster, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, and Red Deer). A total of 23 individuals were interviewed or submitted written responses. Participant answers were combined with previous research. Additionally, West Anthem ran an online survey of which 70 participants came from rural Alberta, towns, or small cities. After summarizing insights, our team spent time seeking examples, resources and links that could help achieve the ideas and actions suggested by our engagement participants and research.  These have been organized into the eight areas above.  

You can see a review of insights from this work in our Phase Three Report.  There were 4 areas selected by our participants as key to address now for music in small towns:

  • Orientation to what it means to be a music city and why it matters to small towns—mostly addressed in “Regulatory & Government Support” and “Social Benefit”
  • Resources/guidance for creating a music town vision or angle or niche—mostly addressed in “Regulatory & Government Support”
  • Orientation to the kinds of roles a chamber of commerce/town council can play—addressed across almost all areas
  • The dollars and sense (pun intended!) behind music in small towns—mostly addressed in “Music Tourism” and “Regulatory & Government Support”
I noticed some resources and ideas repeated. What’s up with that?

Well thank you for reading so carefully!  As you can imagine, it’s challenging to perfectly separate out areas or sectors of a whole industry.  For example, ‘Relationships & Networking’ opportunities are certainly connected to the ‘People’ who make up the music industry. ‘Spaces and Places’ are greatly impacted by policies and work of ‘Regulatory and Government Support’.  Talking about these areas separately lets us dive into details.  However, in order to maximize the chances that you (or any visitor!) find the resources that will help you, we’ve repeated some resources and ideas where it applies in multiple areas.

You’re missing a great local example or helpful resource. How can I get it added to your site?

PLEASE email and share any resources, links, or examples that you think we should include on this site.  The idea is for this toolkit to continue to develop so we’re happy to hear from partners who want to help this grow!  Notice something that needs fixing? We’re just as happy to hear ways to improve the user-experience based on your feedback.


Hours of Operation

Monday  Closed
Tuesday  Closed
Wednesday  Closed
Thursday  Closed
Friday   11AM – Close
Saturday   11AM – Close
Sunday  11AM – 7PM

*These hours are subject to changes depending on programming.