Posted On: Nov. 1, 2022

Featured Organization - The Okanagan Indigenous Music and Arts Society

The Okanagan Indigenous Music and Arts Society was born from the desire to produce an all-Indigenous music and arts festival that showcases the beauty and diversity of Indigenous contemporary and traditional culture. We saw an opportunity to lift up Indigenous artists and musicians in a culturally safe and supportive environment that fosters their talent and exalts their crafts. Our events are rooted in celebration and education and our mission is to provide premiere platforms for Indigenous expression and leave a legacy of capacity building for successful Indigenous economies. Our inaugural festival was met with overwhelming interest and we added a second stage in order to accommodate the incredible response. Professional development workshops with main stage artists for aspiring Indigenous musicians were an integral part of our festival because representation matters and knowledge does too. We have expanded our programming to include digital showcases, music video sponsorship, studio time and EP development.

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What is success for your organization in the coming year?

We are building back better this year and are focusing our efforts on our community. We are lifting our sister festivals and events with sponsored Indigenous showcases to help grow the presence of our Indigenous artists into these spaces and to ensure that we are demonstrating best practices that uphold the true value that music and art bring to our lives and honours the exceptional investment of honing ones craft that artists endure.

What are you currently excited about in the music industry?

Collaborations. Some of our deadliest contemporary musicians are collaborating with traditional artists, non-Indigenous musicians and each other and we just couldn't be more elated. We have loved the magic that is iskwē and Tom Wilson, Handsome Tiger and Chubby Cree, Tanya Tagaq features and everything SNRK (Snotty Nose Rez Kids).

What is the greatest challenge you face currently, and how can other industry and artists partners help?

Lack of venues. We have witnessed the migration of many to social media platforms to showcase their talents and the pandemic has also had an incredible effect transforming the way we consumed content. Unfortunately, digital content is very difficult to monetize, so without adequate and accessible venues many artists struggle with economically viable platforms to showcase their music.

Can you give a shout out to an artist or industry member who is also doing great things?

Our deadly Nlaka’pamux cousins at 2Rivers Remix Society. Their community was devastated last year by the Lytton Wild Fire and many families remain displaced. 2Rivers Remix Society has upheld it's responsibility of uplifting community and is doing the good work of breaking ground with their movable feasts of Indigenous music and culture, bringing celebration to many communities including those at Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc.