On Tuesday (April 16th) evening, a large group from the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame made a presentation to city staff and council on the current state of the Hall, their 2019 projects and their overall goals.
The presentation was delivered by President Ron Sanders and Director Chris Langhuag.
The completely volunteer manned Hall of Fame drew in 4,200 visitors last summer not including special events and festivals.
Atop the Hall’s list of goals was unquestionably their most ambitious, purchasing the building in which the Hall currently resides.
“Chris and Ronda have been excellent landlords for us, leasing our portion of the building to us at very reasonable costs,” said Langhuag. “We have an opportunity to own the building when we’re ready. Our society can buy it and own it if we’re in position to do so. So, we’re trying to discover ways that we can raise enough funding to do that and own our own building here in Merritt.”
Other smaller goals for the Hall included creation of an accessible washroom and maintaining the walk of stars and murals throughout town.
They also spoke to the possibility of bringing the BC Country Music Hall of Fame to Merritt.
“If we had the time and money, we could house it, probably upstairs,” said Sanders.
The topic that generated the most buzz of the evening was merchandise.
“We should definitely have merchandise in the Hall. There definitely should be material in the building for when people get off the buses,” said Sanders.
Mayor Linda Brown was immediately behind the idea, suggesting that the city should look into a joint venture to promote both the Hall of Fame and Merritt as the Country Music Capital of Canada.
“If we’re talking about merchandise and merchandise from the city or a combination from the music society, is there some way we can combine that? The City is also saying what are we going to do, are we going to look at merchandise. We need to start getting our name out there,” said Brown.
“I wanted to support the Mayor’s idea, I think that’s a great idea, if we can do something together possibly incorporate some of the star power. Let work together on this,” said Councillor Mike Bhangu.
Funding was the underlying theme throughout the evening, with talks of grant and aid funding from the city, grants from other sources and fundraising through various events. Director of Corporate Services Sean Smith brought up a possible money-making idea.
“You say that you have a funding need, but you have access to star power. Signed memorabilia, auctions, you have opportunities when you bring people in get each one of them to sign ten of something and start auctioning them off,” said Smith. “Most places don’t have access to something you guys have for something people would happily pay for and hang in their homes.”
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt