East Coast Music Week & Awards Going Online as COVID Cases Rise in Nova Scotia

The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) music association has just announced that all in-person events planned for the upcoming 2021 East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference in Cape Breton have been moved online. The news follows a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia and the Halifax region going into lockdown.

The letter from the ECMA Board of Directors says:

The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) announces that all in-person events planned for the 2021 East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference will be moved online, due to renewed concerns about rising COVID-19 numbers in Nova Scotia. The in-person components were slated to take place in Sydney, Cape Breton from May 5-9.

The 2021 East Coast Music Awards Show, originally scheduled to take place in Sydney, Cape Breton, will also be presented virtually. Details on the virtual version will be announced in the coming days.

The ECMA’s virtual International Export Buyers Program and virtual industry conference, Our Music Means Business presented by TD, will continue online as planned.

“We do not make this decision lightly,” said Dean Stairs, Chair of the ECMA Board of Directors. “Our members' livelihoods have been decimated since the start of the pandemic, and we are committed to continuing to support them in every way that we can. At this time, it is by keeping them, our staff and partners, as well as their communities, safe.”

“We know the importance of live cultural events and live music to our communities and the hope and joy they offer, but caution now will ensure a return to the thrill of live performances in the future,” said Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Suzanne Lohnes-Croft. “I want to thank the ECMA and the Sydney organizers for their hard work, flexibility and creativity in making this event a success.”

“While we are truly sad that we cannot come together in person to celebrate the incredible musical talent from the East Coast, we know how important it is to keep one another safe and move to a virtual format,” said Amanda McDougall, Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. “We will just need to show off our wild creativity doing what we have done the past year and come together from a distance to celebrate the music from our region.”

Refunds are available for all those who purchased tickets to the 2021 event, and will be processed automatically in the coming days.

The ECMA’s Board of Directors has issued the following statement on the decision:

In consultation with the Province of Nova Scotia and several other key event partners, we have made the decision to move all in-person events planned for the 2021 East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference online.

Our thoughts are with our members and all of the hard working musicians and industry professionals who continue to face a tremendous degree of uncertainty due to COVID-19. In light of recent announcements, and under the advice of scientific and medical experts throughout our region and beyond, transitioning the in-person events planned for May 5-9 in Sydney to online events is the right thing to do. The ECMA takes the safety of its members, staff, patrons, sponsors, and contractors very seriously. As such, we urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols issued by public health officials, as we all take necessary preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our region.

In the coming days, the ECMA will announce updated details for all events that were previously slated to occur in-person, as the organization looks to celebrate the accomplishments of our world-class regional talent and honour the winners of the 2021 East Coast Music Awards. We'll also be using new skills honed in 2020, to provide initiatives around mental health, education, and artist development virtually, in addition to the International Export Buyers Program and industry conference, Our Music Means Business presented by TD, which will continue online, as planned. To stay up to date, please continue to visit

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members and stakeholders already involved in the 2021 ECMAs for their passion, dedication, and hard work, and we thank you for your understanding and continued support. The music industry has, time and again, demonstrated a great wealth of resilience when faced with adversity. COVID-19 has changed so many parts of our daily lives, but it hasn't changed people's passion for music. The music will get us through.


The ECMA Board of Directors

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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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