BreakOut West: Home Edition Wraps 15 Days of Immersive Experiences for Artists & Industry

This past Friday, BreakOut West: Home Edition wrapped after 15 days. Although 2020 proved to be an unusual year, given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, BreakOut West: Home Edition brought attendees more than two weeks of immersive online experiences, where artists and industry professionals were given the opportunity to expand their careers with 112 speakers, 18 panel discussions, seven networking events, and over 443 virtual meetings with 95 mentors. Music discovery was celebrated as well with 51 Highlight Artists being featured throughout the event.

In total, over 720 people attended the events, with delegates joining in from 15 different countries, sharing their valuable insight. Attendees were able to travel virtually to key international markets in order to learn strategies and advice for breaking out internationally – what makes each market unique, what industry and platforms are relevant, how and when to engage, and insider information on what these markets will look like over the coming 6-24 months.

“I applaud organizers for all the work done behind the scenes to allow BreakOut West to continue in a virtual way this year. We look forward to hosting this important music industry driven event in conjunction with our Manitoba 150 celebrations in 2021,” said Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister, Cathy Cox. “The music industry is not only an important economic driver in western Canada, it is a source of pride amongst Canadians and we can’t wait for the chance to welcome everyone to Manitoba next year.”

The members of the BreakOut West Winnipeg 2021 Host Committee added, “The music community in Manitoba is strong and creative. These last few months have shown us that we can work together in new ways and connect across the country and beyond. We look forward to welcoming everyone here in 2021, sharing the innovative talent of the artists and industry in Manitoba, and celebrating the best and brightest of Western Canadian music in Winnipeg.”

BreakOut West: Home Edition kicked off on September 25th with a special welcome program to recognize the ancestral lands we are on, and to honour, celebrate and learn from grandmothers, Elders, and leadership from the Indigenous communities of Manitoba – home province of the BreakOut West head office. Stories were shared from Chief Deborah Smith, Belinda Wandenbroeck, Marcella Vezina, Nikki Komaksiutiksak, and Leroy Constant, along with performances from award-winning folk duo, Burnstick and 2020 JUNO Award-winner, Celeigh Cardinal.

That evening, the winners of the Western Canadian Music Awards were revealed during a special broadcast on Up To Speed on CBC Radio One 89.3 FM and CBC Listen, followed by a livestreamed presentation. The recipients in both the Artistic and Industry categories were announced, along with the 2020 Heritage Award, which was presented to Winnipeg musician, Gerry Atwell. Live performances were given by Krystle Dos Santos (R&B Artist of the Year) and The Mariachi Ghost (Global Artist of the Year and Visual Media Composer of the Year). The 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards livestream can be viewed here and the full list of winners can be found here.

Organizers of BreakOut West: Home Edition 2020 say it would not have been possible without the financial support of the Government of Canada, through FACTOR and Musicaction, and all of its provincial and territorial member partners.

“This has been a difficult year for all industries. The continued recognition by our federal and provincial funders of the importance of culture in our economy and lives is hugely applauded,” says Robyn Stewart, Executive Director of the Western Canadian Music Alliance. “In addition, I want to thank and recognize all of our sponsors and industry contributors who, even in this very strange year, have joined us in supporting artist and industry talent, in connecting entrepreneurs and in creating opportunity that will help us all to navigate the road ahead. Though we have all been at home this year, I have never felt so connected to the music ecosystem in Canada and beyond. This, I hope, will be a silver lining that we cherish once we are able to be together in person again.”

BreakOut West looks plans to return to Winnipeg, MB from Oct. 13–17, 2021.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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