Music Industry Initiative

May 31, 2021

For Immediate Release;


Matt Rands, Shelly Covert, Mandy Wheelwright and Mark Greenhalgh

Photo credit: Julie Fowler

31 MAY 2021 (Penticton, BC) – Today, Route 97 Culture announced their initiative to establish new and unique live music venues and promoter relationships across the BC interior. Seeking to forge alliances with commercial partners (wineries, breweries, organic farms), academic institutions (colleges and universities), Indigenous organizations, tourism partners, arts councils and other pre-existing venue partners – their aim is to bring young emerging and established artists to the region. This project has received funding from Amplify BC, a fund created by the Province of British Columbia and administered by Creative BC to support the province’s music and sound recording industry.

Strengthening the live touring sector in BC’s interior, by building touring infrastructure, is a key goal. This means ensuring that new venue choices, promoters and resources are available to serve culturally diverse and younger artists. Additionally, their initiative seeks to provide underserved audiences with an array of creators to see and support. The project is seeking partnerships with both Indigenous organizations and artists, as well as academic institutions in the region who share this goal. They are committed to strongly supporting artists from a variety of backgrounds including women, those in the LGBTQ2S+ community and under-represented BIPOC groups.

Mandy Wheelwright of Blister Management, and project co-lead Mark Greenhalgh of Misty Mountain Productions, along with Julie Fowler, Paul Crawford, Kate Wattie, Tori Jewell, Matt Rands, Greg Curtis (promoter consultant) have begun the engagement process with potential partners. These project team members all have deep experience and ties to the Canadian and BC music industry and each other.

To date, the project team has initiated discussions with the following: Okanagan College (including the Regional Campuses), Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops), UBC Okanagan (Kelowna), Covert Farms (Oliver), Frank Venables Theatre (Oliver), Travel Penticton, Crown and Thieves Winery and Truck 59 Cider House (West Kelowna), Summerhill Pyramid Winery (Kelowna), Tourism Kelowna, Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre (RDNO), Bill Jaswal of Jelly Events (Kamloops), Frank Antoine, Kukpi7, Bonaparte First Nation, (Hat Creek Ranch), Caravan Farm Theatre (Armstrong).

This project, by design, aims to grow and develop BC’s music ecosystem by solving problems and by having this new network of potential stakeholders invest in BC and Canadian talent. By finding new performance venues, working out new promoter relationships, developing stronger interconnectedness between academic, Indigenous organizations, arts councils, and the commercial / tourism sectors – this project aims to build a viable touring corridor in the BC Interior for younger artists. As the Provincial Health Orders for public gatherings are lifted, this initiative will lead to growth in cultural tourism allowing live music to become a larger conduit of positive economic impact.


We acknowledge that Route97 Culture’s offices are on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. We carry out our work respectfully on the land of Indigenous Peoples throughout the region and are grateful for the continuing relationships with Indigenous Peoples that develop through our work together.


“This initiative speaks to many of the areas we have identified as key for the development of our communities and the ways we can engage with these communities. Working with the team included in this project provides a unique opportunity for the College to leverage existing and specialized expertise in the establishment of music touring infrastructure and further leverage some of the academic and technical programs currently being offered at the College.” Eric Corneau – Okanagan College – Regional Dean for South Okanagan-Similkameen

“Bonaparte First Nations is happy to be working with Route 97 Culture. Music is universal and where better to build opportunity for emerging music artists than in the beautiful Thompson Okanagan. This project identifies the combination of our culture in a musical form that brings us back to our ancestors who get to then connect with our future generations. The world has changed and to feel like we must come together is so high on our list of feeling safe & normal again. We need projects and experiences like this to stimulate the spirit of belonging of the places we call home. Giving back to the next generations coming. Our legacy is what we leave behind, but the fun is creating it.” Kukpi7 Frank Antoine, Bonaparte Indian Band, Moccasin Trails, Indigenous Tourism BC, TOTA.

“Mandy, myself, and the project team are so pleased to be able to, thanks to our partners at Creative BC, identify and move towards filling gaps that have existed for many years in the regional live music market. So far in our engagement we have realized that there are many like-minded organizations and individuals aligned in this thinking. Together, we will move the needle towards a healthy, inclusive, and diverse live music ecosystem. The region has so much opportunity as a cultural destination and music is at the center of this. Route97 Road Trip anyone”? Mark Greenhalgh, Misty Mountain Productions.

“Crown and Thieves and Truck 59 Cider House are very excited to partner with Route97 Culture and their initiative to develop performance dates for BC Emerging and National level artists here at our establishments, as well as many other locations regionally. Music is a big part of what we do here, and we have a big soft spot for helping young new BC musicians get established in a market with so much potential and opportunity. Also, music and wine… there’s that”. Jason Parkes, Lead Singer, Properman and Wine guy, West Kelowna, BC

“Upon the return to a post-COVID world and the reopening of the university, TRU will once again resume the efforts to seek out and program talent towards the goal of animating our campus with a steady schedule of artists through partnerships with BC music industry partners. As an ex-Canadian music industry professional I can clearly see the opportunity for a network of BC presenters and promoters to work together to help build some resiliency in the current artist touring scene here in the Interior of BC.” Billy Collins – Thompson Rivers University – Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts & Tourism Associate Teaching Professor, Tourism and Event Management Program, Thompson Rivers University

“As we begin to prepare for the eventual re-opening of the post pandemic live music industry, and all the re-sets and new best practices that are certain to result, this Project could not be better timed or more worth the investment to make it possible. The appetite for live performance will be a healthy one, with hungry audiences more open to new and diverse menus.” Jim Harding – Executive Director, Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre Society

“The post-secondary live music market has, for decades, played an important role in the development of artists’ careers in Canada. The B.C. interior has existing infrastructure and populace, particularly at the post-secondary level, to make a touring circuit a reality, it is just a matter of organizing and implementing. With this initiative, we hope to strengthen that opportunity and provide a truly positive experience for audience, organizer, and performer alike.” Greg Curtis – Project Consultant, Promoter from Tooth Blackner Presents, Calgary AB

“The project team is taking an innovative approach to remedy the twofold problem of lack of both promoters and venues in the BC Interior which restricts market access for Canada’s touring artists and limits choice for music consumers. We have every confidence that the team assembled can improve the regional live music infrastructure with this initiative. Todd Jordan – Vice President, Paquin Artist Agency, Winnipeg, Manitoba

“This initiative should reinvigorate the area: providing diversity in a scene that has been homogenous for far too long and increasing the amount of music performances available to our community. Mark, Mandy and the project team are the perfect fit to energize this area, and have the knowledge and connections to bring through both nationally renowned and emerging artists”. Jamie King – Associate Director of the Caravan Farm Theatre, Armstrong BC

“We are excited to explore ideas and take part in an engagement process to determine how we can work with the team to ensure more great musicians can come to our region and see how Covert Farms can play a part towards enriching our live music culture”. Shelly Covert – Owner/Operator of Covert Farms, Oliver, BC

For more information, please contact: Mavis Harris, Founder / Media Relations Manager Nice Marmot PR

About Creative BC

Creative BC is an independent society created and supported by the Province to sustain and help grow British Columbia’s creative industries: motion picture, interactive and digital media, music and sound recording, and magazine and book publishing. The society delivers a wide range of programs and services with a mandate to expand B.C.’s creative economy.

These activities include: administration of the provincial government’s motion picture tax credit programs; delivery of program funding and export marketing support for the sector; and provincial film commission services. Combined, these activities serve to attract inward investment and market B.C. as a partner and destination of choice for domestic and international content creation.

The society acts as an industry catalyst and ambassador to help B.C.’s creative sector reach its economic, social, environmental and creative potential both at home and globally.

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