Island music as art and export
At the largest folk festival in Australia that draws crowds of 120,000, a guitar-toting troubadour, Irish Mythen, sang Prince Edward Island’s praises.
Two weeks later, an Australian couple Mythen met at her merchandise table e-mailed her photos of three Sydney-to-Charlottetown plane tickets. Never having been to Canada's east coast, they explained that Mythen's show convinced them to make the Island their next travel destination.
Prince Edward Island has a long history of its primary industries - farming, fishing and tourism making significant contributions to the economy. These days, sectors like aerospace, bioscience, manufacturing and marine technology are emerging as the new kids on the block creating good jobs for Islanders and export-ready product, service and expertise. Some say that music too can claim a stake in the PEI success story.
At any given time, Prince Edward Island has more than a dozen internationally touring artists explaining through words, music and visuals what a special place this is. This year alone, Island artists have toured in 20 countries across five continents; Malaysia, India, UK, Ireland and Australia. And they’re all sharing the beauty and uniqueness of home.
Prince Edward Island may be small, but we cast a mighty big shadow in the music business.
“For a jurisdiction of just over 145,000, that’s astounding,” said Music PEI Executive Director Rob Oakie. "No other place in the world of our size can claim such success for its musicians."
Each September, Showcase PEI brings more than 300 music buyers from around the world to see the best Island talent.
“We showcase 20 artists per year who are export ready,” Oakie explains. "Last year, 35 buyers were here representing festivals, clubs, theatres and music venues - small and large - from across the globe.”
Promotion efforts like these, along with funding programs, have brought $2 million in work for PEI artists like Irish Mythen, Vishten, Tim Chaisson and the list goes on.
“We have an incredible number of ambassadors. They’re very vocal and proud of where they came from.”
Oakie noted that at one time, PEI would lose its best artists because there was no support here and no infrastructure. Now they are staying and working from home. PEI is proving to be a place where a musician can succeed as both an artist and a business.
“We’re sending our best ambassadors out there and they’re bringing people back to PEI.”
In the determination that is characteristic of this place, PEI musicians and businesses alike are poised to achieve even greater things in the future.
Prince Edward Island is the Mighty Island - we may be small, but we make big things happen.
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