Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Music industry professionals and enthusiasts met Wednesday for a public workshop that marked a key step in San Antonio's efforts to receive official certification as a Music Friendly Community from the Texas Music Office.
That recognition will help connect the local music industry to opportunities across the state and beyond, said Brendon Anthony, director of the Texas Music Office, which supports and promotes the state's music business.
“The point of this program,” he said, “is we create real communication, real networking, and real change for the music industry as a whole in the state.”
The workshop at Freetail Brewing Company also served as the official public release of the 2017 San Antonio Sound Garden Music Industry study, which charts the economic impact of music on the region. The study by Sound Garden, a local music advocacy group, was commissioned by the City to establish hard data for the Texas Music Office and Department of Arts & Culture to work from.
Krystal Jones, the film and music commissioner for the City of San Antonio's Department of Arts & Culture, estimated that more than 50 people participated in the workshop, a crowd comparable to a similar workshop in Fort Worth, which has already received an official Music Friendly Community designation.
“You’ll be heartened to know,” Anthony assured those in attendance, that San Antonio is “pretty far down the field to getting that certification. Now it’s time for you guys to start weighing in, and have your community weigh in, too, and get involved.”
Adam Tutor, director of community engagement for San Antonio Sound Garden, agreed. “For what we’re trying to accomplish, we need different leaders from different sectors, and we had that representation today,” he said.
Workshop participant Kimberly Bemrich did not take part in the Sound Garden study, but described herself as a local music cheerleader and friend of Edwin Stephens, the founder of Sound Garden.
“I think SA is kind of a little secret right now,” Bemrich said, “but I feel like the world needs to know about it.” Despite those who feel the music scene here is “cliquish,” she said, “I’ve seen a lot of people work together, and come together for music and the greater good.”
Bemrich represented one of the central messages of the workshop: to “support one another” and to “make your community a stronger, more interactive place,” Anthony said.
Kim Johnson, Sara Rios, and Libby Day, who attended together, run SATX Music as a "labor of love” to book shows at various local venues. Each expressed mixed feelings about the workshop, the study, and the state designation, but supported the overall certification effort.
“I think as a resource it will establish a lot,” Rios said, “as far being the lighthouse for musicians” in terms of seeking opportunities and navigating professional life.
Day mentioned past problems with hosting do-it-yourself-level events and negotiating onerous City processes for events permitting. “Is there somebody you can go talk to and just ask those questions?” she asked.
That would be Jones, who will serve as the official music liaison between constituents and the City. The liaison position and a new music advisory committee, comprised of 12 participants in the music scene, including professional musicians, venue owners, and representing “many different facets of the music community,” Jones said, are both key recommendations of the Sound Garden study, and essential steps in receiving certification.
In addition to Fort Worth, Austin has been designated a Music Friendly Community, and Denton, Dallas, and Lubbock are, like San Antonio, seeking certification.
Jones said that interested members of the music industry and public will have further chances to ask questions and air concerns to her and the committee.
Starting in January, she said, the committee will meet each second Monday of the month at 3:15 p.m. at the Department of Arts & Culture offices, located behind City Hall at 115 Plaza de Armas. The meetings are a chance for the public to address the committee and contribute to a new strategic plan for the music industry being developed as part of the Music Friendly Communities process.