Collaboration a big part of new music alliance

By: Michelle Brownridge April, 2012

Cultural Areas

Arts

In 2007, five provincial music organizations, supported by SaskCulture and Saskatchewan Lotteries, entered into discussions as a way to investigate collaborative possibilities and create new synergies. These discussions brought about the formation of the Saskatchewan Music Alliance (SMA), which includes the Saskatchewan Band Association (SBA), the Saskatchewan Choral Federation (SCF), the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association (SMEA), the Saskatchewan Music Festival Association (SMFA), and the Saskatchewan Orchestral Association (SOA).

Val Kuemper, executive director of the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association, says that by forming the SMA, “Communications between all five of our organizations has improved tremendously. It is so nice to be able to collaborate and work together on things. We are communicating on almost a daily basis, which rarely would have happened before.”

A main avenue of collaboration for the organizations has been the Saskatchewan Music Conference, held annually in either Regina or Saskatoon, which attracts over 200 delegates. Denise Gress, executive director, of the Saskatchewan Choral Federation, and chair of the SMA, says, “The conference has five currents running through it, so each of the five organizations is able to have a programming stream.

” In addition to each organization’s specific programming, the SMA has also been able to incorporate more general sessions that would be of interest. “Often delegates at the conference wear many different hats, especially in rural communities,” explains Gress. “They may be the music teacher at the school, who conducts a choir on Sunday at church and teaches private music lessons in the evenings. It makes sense for them to attend our one conference, and get all the information in one place.”

The SMA is also working on a partnership with the Dream Brokers program. Coordinators from the Dream Brokers program work in schools to ensure children and youth, who traditionally have not had access, get the chance to participate in sports, culture and recreational opportunities.

“SaskCulture approached us a while ago with the opportunity to work with the Dream Brokers,” Gress explains. “We proposed a summer music camp for at-risk youth, where those involved will have the opportunity to engage in several different types of musical experiences.” The SMA is taking into account the possibility that participants might not have had a lot of music involvement up to this point in their lives. The music camp will offer an experience that will hopefully encourage lifelong participation in music.

Each organization also offers a wide-range of individual programs and support for music and music development in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Choral Federation (SCF) coordinates choral music in the province, offers summer choral camps for youth, a choral concert series, mentorship programs and scholarships. The Saskatchewan Band Association (SBA), which coordinates band programming and development in the province, offers summer band camps, community band funding and provincial band festivals. The Saskatchewan Orchestral Association (SOA), which coordinates and promotes orchestral music in the province, offers workshops and grants to its member organizations. The Saskatchewan Music Festivals Association (SMFA) coordinates the provincial music festival competitions and provides performance and educational opportunities. And, the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association (SMEA) is a central resource of music educators in the province, as well as supporting provincial honour bands and choirs.

The formation of the SMA has given a stronger advocacy role to all five organizations involved. "We have a stronger political voice as well,” says Tim Linsley, executive director, of the Saskatchewan Band Association. “The larger the organization is, it not only has more power in programming, but also power in a united voice to government and funders.” Kuemper adds, “I think that there is power in numbers. One organization can do great things, but five of them working together can do even greater things.”