Arts & Life
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This article was published 10/2/2020 (231 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba country music artist Quinton Blair has a plan to raise $1 million to help rural communities reach their goals, one show at a time.
"I wouldn't do something for a cause that I didn't believe in," Blair said in a recent telephone interview with The Brandon Sun.
The four-time Manitoba Country Music Association award winner lives in Landmark, approximately 260 kilometres east of Brandon, smack dab in the centre of Canada.
A mortgage adviser by day, the 37-year-old musician and his band have been hitting the bars, rodeo dances and country fairs for more than a dozen years.
In that time, Blair said, he has come to know the challenges communities can face trying to raise grant money to make much-needed repairs to the local arena or community hall. Others may be dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, such as blizzards, or fires.
"In every town, somebody needs something," he said, and that awoke the planner in him to help make it happen.
"I plan finances for people all the time, so this is just another extension of it."
The idea is to work with community organizations to set fundraising goals and work toward them, even if it takes returning to the community year after year until that goal is reached, he said.
In fact, one of the benefits is that communities, depending on the size of the goal, would see the band return each year at the same time, Blair said, and that can help grow attendance and raise more and more money each year.
"We change the show for next year," he said, "so it's not like it's the same band playing the same songs."
Blair and his band will take what they need to cover their costs of putting on the shows, and the remainder from ticket sales will go toward the community project.
"We're not a non-profit, ourselves," he said, adding there is a substantial cost involved in terms of lighting, technicians and the like.
Blair said he is also hoping to get individuals or businesses to take out monthly subscriptions through the Patreon platform, which provides subscribers with benefits such as exclusive content, or VIP access.
That would ensure the operating costs of performances remains low.
"I actually see myself more as a facilitator than a musician who's going to raise money," the musician said. "I'm a facilitator working alongside the organizations to find the way that we can make the money, build the strategy that will work for them to make the money."
Blair said he's already heard from people who are interested in working with him on projects.
"There's a lot of people out there asking," he said, and they've only just started to get the word out.
The band's first fundraising event is March 13 at the Watson Arts Centre in Dauphin, where the community just learned the province is closing its jail and with it the possibility of losing 80 local jobs.
"I know that's a really tough spot for that community," Blair said. "There's a lot of people really concerned with how that affects everything."
But, he said, he's taking 100 per cent of the risk putting on the show, and if only six people show up there are no sponsors to take the hit.
"We're just going in there on my name trying to raise money (for a local cause)."
As for how long it will take to reach his $1 million goal, Blair said he's crunched some numbers and it could be attainable within the next seven years if they get enough shows.
"I think, as we did this in communities all over ... that we could actually make $1 million to leave behind before I retire," he said. "I'm 37, so ideally I want to play music until I'm 80. I've still got a few years to do this."
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