While Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its many valuable contributions to the national and global stage, perhaps one of our greatest and most prized exports is our music. From the time-honored sea shanties sung by our forefathers, to the folk/traditional stylings of iconic bands such as Figgy Duff and the serene sounds of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the province’s musical mosaic forms an important part of the cornerstone upon which our cultural foundation rests.
Music is in our blood. It is all around us. And thanks to businesses like Kilmory Resort in Swift Current, locals and visitors alike are being exposed to the rich kaleidoscope of sound that exists in our own backyard.
In her role as program coordinator with the Bonavista Institute for Cultural Tourism, Mary Byrne has assisted tourism operators throughout Atlantic Canada with developing quality visitor experiences. While Kilmory Resort has been in business for almost 25 years, incorporating the arts into their day-to-day operations is an exciting new venture says Byrne, who (along with partner and owner/operator Roger Jamieson) is working to create a new market by bringing more music to Kilmory.
So far, Kilmory has hosted everyone from Sherman Downey and Matthew Byrne to Jim Payne, Fergus O’Byrne and the late Ron Hynes in a series of intimate and interactive performances during the winter months.
“The first opportunity actually came about when Matthew and Sherman were doing their winter tour last year. They were interested in doing some small intimate shows on that tour as well. Their agent called us to see if we were interested in hosting them and we jumped at the opportunity,” says Byrne.
“Initially, the show was to be in one of our chalets for 25 guests. We moved it to our house because we could accommodate more people. We have continued to work with the other artists who expressed interest in the house concert concept.”
While Kilmory will host another series of concerts this winter (featuring Alan Doyle, Amelia Curran, Sherman Downey, and Matthew Byrne to name a few), the business hopes to branch out with an outdoor summer concert, as well as children’s and corporate events – again incorporating local artists. An artist retreat, featuring pop-up art galleries and potential workshops, is also in the works for the new year.
Melding the guest experience with local music and artists is a win-win for both Kilmory clientele and the artists, Byrne says. Supporting the local arts community also makes good business sense.
“Too often I think we look at artists as entertainers only, when in fact they have so much more to offer, such as the team-building workshops with the painters and improv. We hope that this will assist us in growing our meeting and small conference business. It also helps us to incorporate the local audience into our business through concerts at the house,” Byrne says.
“There is not enough financial support for the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition, a lot of the work they do is very seasonal. A lot of businesses operate all year round, as we do here, and can assist the artists in many ways to support them financially. We can provide venues and audiences that they may not normally have access to as well.”