The city of Waxahachie and interested community members took their first steps this week toward becoming a certified Music Friendly Community.
Texas Music Office director Brendon Anthony facilitated the workshop, sharing how the program serves to benefit the state’s music industry professionals through interconnectivity and support opportunities.There are about 10 cities that have gone through and completed the process, which is typically individualized toward each community’s wants and needs. Three more are working toward certification now. Hosting a workshop represents the first step in the process as it allows a community to hear what the program’s about while also bringing together different stakeholders.
Several dozen people were on hand at the workshop, which was held at the Waxahachie Civic Center, with various aspects of the industry represented, from local singers and band managers to venue operators and local radio station, KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM.
Anthony, who’s been involved in a number of aspects of the music industry, from touring as Pat Green’s fiddle player to running One Live Media, a company he helped found. After his inauguration, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped Anthony to serve as TMO director in January 2015.
TMO had been in operation for about 30 years when Abbott realigned several offices, placing the TMO, Texas Film Commission, Women’s Commission and the Workforce Investment Council under the Economic Development and Tourism Division.
In his presentation, Anthony discussed the four key functions of his office:
• serving as a clearinghouse for Texas music industry information via its database of 15,000-plus Texas music businesses
• serving as a liaison between music businesses and government offices and agencies
• publicizing significant developments within the industry
• attracting essential music industry to foster the economic development of Texas music businesses and musicians
The Music Friendly Community certification was developed by Anthony after stepping into his role – and his belief in the program is why he was on hand at the workshop.
“It’s pretty involved and why I show up personally to come talk about it,” Anthony said.
“It matters to me that music and small businesses feel supported and that they feel supported in Texas,” he continued, noting that the music industry not only has a cultural aspect but an economic one as well, generating millions of dollars of impact each year on the Texas economy.
While each community going through the Music Friendly Community certification process will end up with individualized aspects, all have several similarities in that they are asked to establish a single point of contact to serve as a liaison between the city and TMO. Anthony noted that the city’s liaison also serves in that role between the city and community members on items such as ordinances and permits.
Another similarity is in the establishment of either a city board or a nonprofit board to serve as an advisory group that also can assist with the interconnectivity TMO wants to see. Members should represent various aspects of the local music industry and facilitate regular meetings with the community that incorporate networking along with information sharing.
Ultimately, “it’s going to look like the community that empowers it,” Anthony said. “We are very flexible. I’m very flexible because I understand all of these communities are different.”
It’s about a yearlong process to attain certification. The next step for Waxahachie would be to designate its single point of contact, which is anticipated will be Kelly Skistimas, cultural arts and programming manager for the Waxahachie Convention & Visitors Bureau.
From there, some type of advisory group would be put together, with the city then registering with TMO its intent to become certified and entering into a memorandum of understanding that allows the sharing of data. The city then engages with TMO support as it works toward certification.
It’s not necessarily an easy process as it requires a lot of engagement and interaction.
“We’ve created a fairly high bar for getting into the program,” Anthony said.
Benefits to attaining the certification, as outlined by Anthony, include:
• validation and support shown for the local music industry
• development of a supportive and connected community
• cultural development and artistic growth
• increased city brand building
• economic impact generated
Anthony encouraged those in attendance to explore the TMO website and to contact him personally with any questions.
“I’m easy to find,” he said. “Please feel free to reach out.”
Texas Music Office staff, including Anthony, can be reached at 512-463-6666 or via any of the office’s social media channels.