Downtown Yellowknife will soon have a new jam space for musical artists after the Win your Space contest awarded free rent to Music Exchange.

Mary Kelly presented the idea of Music Exchange, a musical hub where artists can rent space to create and work on their musical art, to a panel of judges last Thursday at city hall. The proposal was selected as the winner ahead of four other finalists. Kelly will now receive a year of free rent from the city and $10,000 from the NWT Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC).

The space will be divided with one big room and three smaller rooms.

“The big room would be for group activities but it would be purposely designed for music activities. The three smaller rooms can be used for practice studios or music lessons,” said Kelly. ‘I’m hopeful that the space will be on Franklin (Avenue) but the lease has to be negotiated.”

In Kelly’s proposal to the judges, she states that she would aim for a space that is between 800 and 1,000 square feet. She hopes to have the location open in January 2019.
While Kelly will be the sole employee of the new business, she believes that it will allow for musicians in the city to create their own jobs on an entrepreneurial level.
“In terms of activating the space, I will be contracting people to work with me. But in terms of job development, this space will allow other creative entrepreneurs to get an income. Through networking there will be a ton of opportunities,” said Kelly.
Once the location is open it will allow for artists to centralize their creativity in the city, something that Kelly says has been missing until now.
“There’s different kinds of musicians – there people that need jam spaces, a lot of that is happening in Kam lake,” said Kelly. “In terms of music lessons, that is happening in multipurpose spaces, such as church basements and library rooms. These spaces are the right size and spaces but they aren’t ideal.” There is currently a group of Yellowknifers that’s looking to turn the former Hudson’s Bay warehouse in Old Town into an arts centre that would promote musical activity in the city. Kelly said that group is looking at more of a long-term space, such as a musical school as opposed to a rental site.
Music Exchange is the second winner of the ‘Win Your Space’ competition. Last year, Ja-pain, a Japanese-style bakery, was awarded the prize. That business is still in operation in the Centre Square Mall.

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