Expansion Creates Western Canadian Music Awards

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In a move to unite the musical spirit of Western Canada, the Prairie Music Alliance has expanded to include two new regions, thereby forming and operating under the name of Western Canadian Music Alliance. The Western Canadian Music Awards, as the event will be known, is the first ever to recognize and celebrate the music and achievements of all Western Canadian artists and industry members.

Prairie Music Week, an annual conference, festival and awards show hosted on a rotating basis in each of the Prairie Provinces, was established in 1999 by the Prairie Music Alliance. In December 2002, the PMA, made up of the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta industry associations (MARIA, SRIA and ARIA), unanimously agreed to support a new alliance which would include the Pacific Music Industry Association (PMIA) in British Columbia, and the Recording Arts Industry - Yukon Association (RAIYA) in Yukon, forming the WCMA.

“This is by far the most exciting and positive development in the Canadian music industry in years,” said an elated JP Ellson, former president of the PMA and newly elected president of the WCMA, when the deal was finally done. “This is something we have been considering for some time, and with the overwhelming support from all five participating industry associations it was clear that we needed to move forward, be inclusive and support the region we all create, work, and live in.”

The Western Canadian Music Awards will include a music festival, conference, and award show with the goal of promoting and celebrating Western Canadian Music. "As with Prairie Music Week, special emphasis will be placed on performance, networking, mentoring, and educational opportunities for independent labels, artists and managers, and those interested in building a healthy and vibrant state in which the industry may flourish," said executive director Thom Sparling.

"The spirit of Prairie Music Week - the thing that has always been our greatest asset - and the attribute that has always set our conference, festival and awards show apart from all the others in North America will certainly carry over to the new Western Canadian Music Awards So far we've been the 'little one that could.' We want to maintain that integrity while opening the event up to support all Western Canadians," added Sparling.

Adhering to the schedule previously laid out by the Prairie Music Alliance, the first annual WCMAs will be in Regina September 25 to 29th, 2003, followed by Calgary. Vancouver will host the 2005 WMCAs, and the event will continue to rotate through participating regions.

The WCMAs will join the Junos, the Canadian Country Music Awards and the East Coast Music Awards as one of the four major music awards shows in Canada. Board members of the Western Canadian Music Alliance board include JP Ellson (SK); Kevin Walters (vice-president, MB); Sam Baardman (MB); Kevin Donnelly (MB); Derek Bachman (SK); Lorena Kelly (SK); Mimi Lodoen (SK); Maryanne Gibson (AB); Kelly Jerrott (AB); Gerry Stoll (AB); Bob D’Eith (BC); Natasha Duprey (BC); Kirsten Andrews (BC); Steve Slade (Yukon); and Mark Smith (Yukon).

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