A hub for Ottawa-Gatineau's music community, to develop musicians and encourage audiences for all genres of music, including jazz. That's the vision of “FOLKRUM”.

It's the dream of local arts administrator Kim Lymburner, who introduced it at a public meeting January 30. The non-profit project would act as a learning, mentoring, and networking location by day, and a performance space by night, he said. It is planned to include

  • a 4500- sq. ft. space, to be used as a meeting space, for workshops, and for musician career development (but not music instruction)
  • a 200-seat concert space within the larger space, resizable to smaller spaces as necessary
  • a cafe and a bar

According to the group's website, the name FOLKRUM unites “folk” (for community) and “fulcrum” (a point of rest, support, or leverage).

FOLKRUM would be “really focused on the talent of the singer-songwriter category” because of this area's burgeoning talent in that area, Lymburner said, and on original works and local musicians. However, it would support “all genres of music .... This may include folk, roots, blues, spoken word, jazz, classical, hip hop, pop, alt rock, choral and other forms of musical expression."

He envisioned it as self-supporting (from product sales, tickets, food and drink, workshops, space rental, and memberships), only applying for government grants for special projects. In order to break even, he estimated it would need to run concerts at least three nights a week.

Lymburner said he was familiar with GigSpace, the local charitable music venue which is a major local presenter of jazz shows, and had attended concerts there. But he saw this initiative as “complementary”, not in competition, because it will have more of a community component and will be substantially larger than either GigSpace or the proposed West End Well.

To make the dream a reality, Lymburner has gathered a small group of music fans and musicians, and will run fundraising concerts and and possibly a crowdfunding campaign this year. The biggest initial hurdle will be to find an affordable space, he said; they hoped to do that by the end of 2014 or early 2015. He said the group needed to be “patient and very opportunistic” to get a space that would work, but they would be looking at locations like the Domtar Lands, the Bayview Yards, and other underused spaces.

The first of two information sessions on January 30 attracted about 30 people, including several prominent members of the folk music community and a city councillor. They applauded enthusiastically at the end of the presentation, and many stayed afterwards to chat.

Which is what Lymburner was looking for. “It's very ambitious. Whether or not we'll get there, we don't know, but we're damned determined to do so, and it depends on the support of people like you.”

    – Alayne McGregor