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Central Texas city hoping to support local musicians with music friendly designation

Harker Heights hoping to earn music friendly designation to support local artists.
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 6:30 AM CDT
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HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas (KWTX) - One local city is hoping to support their local musicians, and it’s looking for community help as it begins the process.

Harker Heights is working toward getting certified as a Music Friendly Community, which is a designation from the state. Cities that are part of the program have access to a network to help grow their music industry, and that’s something the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce is hoping to do.

The first step is hosting a workshop with the Texas Music Office, which is happening Thursday night from 5:30 until 7 at the chamber office at 552 East FM 2410. They’re hoping to get a lot of feedback from local artists and others passionate about music.

“We went anybody who is very passionate about the arts. We want our musicians to come and ask questions,” Gina Pence, president and CEO of the chamber, said. “This is the perfect time to find out the resources that are going to be available.”

They started the process because the chamber feels like they could be doing more to support local artists. Pence said earning the certification has been something they’ve wanted to work toward for a while, but the pandemic slowed them down.

Even though Harker Heights is a small community, Pence said they want to bring in more music events--right now, the main event is the annual Food, Wine and Brew Fest. Earning the designation will hopefully offer them more resources.

“There’s a lot of times that a new business will open up and they just want maybe somebody to come in and play an instrument during their grand opening,” Pence said. “We didn’t have those resources to really reach out and say, okay, here are all of our artists that you can contact. And that’s one of the things that we really want to work on.”

Those resources have been a benefit for other cities with the designation, like Waco, who became a Music Friendly City nearly two years ago.

“The Music Friendly City designation gives a toolkit for communities like ours to pull together all of the different components to building a robust music industry,” Fiona Bone, executive director of Creative Waco, said. “And a pathway for musicians and professional performers to be able to make a living.”

Bond said they’ve been able to create a pipeline to bring together musicians, venues, people who educate musicians and more. She added the designation also makes it easier for the city to host events, like the recent Go North to East Waco showcase.

“We already had those relationships that when someone had an idea like that, we were able to pull that all together, and it meant we were able to pull the resources together really quickly,” Bond said. “So we put out an immediate call for sponsors. Within 24 hours, we had all the sponsorship we needed for that.”

Pence said as a chamber, they will be working through the steps to the certification with the governor’s office, the arts commission the city just created, as well as city council and the parks and recreation department.

Pence said this is an effort from the entire city to bring more events and culture to the area.

“We’ve done a great job adding different industries,” Pence said. “The medical industry is our number one industry for jobs, but we don’t have the culture, so the citizens feel like they need to leave the area to get that experience. We don’t want that happening.”

More information about the Music Friendly Community program is available here, and Harker Heights has more information about the workshop on their Facebook page.

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