On the surface, Music BC’s ARC Program is a multi-stage program that supports up-and-coming Canadian artists develop their skills in writing, recording, performing, and building their music brand. However, ARC ended up being much more than a series of panels and workshops. It was an intimate, transcendental experience where artists were given a chance to deeply connect — connect to their music, connect to their fellow artists, and most importantly, connect to themselves.
Following the “Clinic,” which was a two-day introductory panel and the first of ARC’s three-stage program, 15 BC-based artists, who were juried by a vast array of music industry professionals, were sent to the “Retreat” at Rock Ridge Canyon in Princeton, British Columbia and RANGE Magazine was invited along for the ride.
The lakeside full-service centre is a beautiful property with a host of amenities including zip-lining, a basketball court, swimming pool, kayaks and paddle boards, a dining hall, a performance theatre, and a plethora of other amenities that artists could utilize in between their workshops. The nature surrounding the property was both stunning and relaxing, allowing members to temporarily disconnect from the “real world” and focus solely on the experience in front of them.
Each day artists found themselves in mental wellness sessions with Registered Clinical Counsellor Tamara Adilman, or workshops with experienced vocal-coach Carol-Lynne Quinn or branding workshops with Negele Hospedales as well as Natasha Dion, Head of Creative at Chaos Club Digital and a photo shoot with photographer Brandon William Fletcher. Artists were also put in teams and paired with a producer to write and record a track over the course of one week. Producers included: Sleepy Tom, Potatohead People, Denise De’ion, Myya, Howard Redekopp, Colleen “Crush” Venables and Elisa Pangsaeng. These songs were recorded in dorm rooms turned makeshift studios.
Each night ended with some kind of performance-based event ranging from open mics to jams to an early-2000s themed lip sync battle hosted by Music BC program manager Jimmy Leitch. Performances throughout each night generally ended in standing ovations, words of support, and embracing hugs. The retreat embodied a very safe, loving atmosphere where everyone was fully supported and encouraged to step outside of their comfort zone.
Artists and faculty feel this open atmosphere was amplified by ARC’s mental wellness workshops led by Tamara Adilman. Many artists described the sessions as “transformative,” allowing them to be vulnerable with themselves and each other, deepening their sense of connection. “My experience working with artists in mental health has been one of the greatest joys of my life,” Adilman says sitting on a blanket beneath a tree. This is where she hosts both one-on-one and group mental health sessions, guiding each artist through their own emotional journey.
“The artists are so talented here and so human,” Adilman continues. “I think what’s been so powerful here is how I see them bonding with each other and wanting to learn communication skills with their band or management team, or learn how to cope with old demons from the past or childhood, or learning how to stay self motivated. All that, to me, is such a rich experience. I have seen such incredible growth and I think that’s what happens when you have such an immersive experience. You don’t get to be at a place like this in everyday life.”
ARC was built from the skeleton of the Peak Performance Project, a $100,000 music competition which ran from 2009 to 2015. Music BC executive director Lindsay MacPherson wanted to remove the competitive angle from the ARC Program, allowing artists to focus on themselves, rather than the prize money. This felt like a good move as the overarching theme of the ARC experience is not competition, but rather community.
“What drives me to do stuff like this is finding connections with other people through music and being able to facilitate that with other people. That’s really special,” MacPherson says in the dining hall as Sofar Sounds crew ops manager Brittany Ayton angelically plays piano and sings in the background, her voice softly echoing through the room. “We really want to set them up for success. I’m very excited to hear what these artists write together. And who knows, maybe some will play shows together, or tour together, or collaborate on more tracks later on. Connection was my biggest takeaway in all of this.”
Now, artists are gearing up for the third and final stage of the ARC Program, the “Show.” This year, Music BC is hosting their own stage at Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, BC, where all 15 artists will perform over the course of three days from Sept. 15 to 17 .
ARC Program 2022 Artists
(in alphabetical order):
By Stephan Boissonneault
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