The Common Room Recording Grant is intended to support musicians who are ready to record their songs in studio but are limited by funds and experience. (Robyn Roste photo)

Community-funded recording grant benefits Abbotsford songwriters

Common Room Music Collective starts ongoing grant to help musicians with recording costs

by Robyn Roste, Contributor

A Fraser Valley-based group of musicians and event planners called the Common Room Music Collective (CRMC) is starting an ongoing recording grant to help local musicians with recording costs.

The CRMC is holding an evening of music and community on Friday, July 26 from 7 to 10 p.m. to launch and fundraise for the Common Room Recording Grant. The group wants to raise $2,500 at the launch event to fund their first grant.

“The Fraser Valley has a well-crafted music scene here. We want to help play a role in it too,” said John Dunning, one of the event organizers and members of the CRMC.

The Common Room Recording Grant is intended to support musicians who are ready to record their songs in studio but are limited by funds and experience.

In addition to the money, grant recipients will also receive mentorship from CRMC members for everything from budgeting and finding the right studio to planning tours and events.

Dunning said inspiration for the grant came from the group’s goal of supporting a sustainable arts scene in the Fraser Valley. In the past two-and-a-half years, the group has held several songwriter nights in members’ living rooms.

“We started doing songwriter nights because we had a lot of friends who had written one or two songs, and played guitar, and we thought we should show each other our music that we’ve written,” he said.

What began as a small group of friends grew through word-of-mouth to an average of 25 musicians attending the gatherings.

At the songwriter nights, musicians come with one or two songs prepared and put their name into a hat. Those whose names are drawn play their songs for the group and receive advice and feedback.

The artists who attend the songwriter nights range from people who are interested in writing songs or have written a few but aren’t sure what to do next to those who have found commercial success and are touring.

“Our goal is to keep everything in the Fraser Valley,” Dunning said. “If we’ve learned anything from doing these songwriter nights it is we have this really deep pool of talent.”

On July 26, the grant will launch at the Common Room Recording Grant Kick-Off event and applications will begin being accepted. Those interested in applying can learn more and download an application form at

Chosen by a jury process, recipient artists will receive the grant once it’s fully funded. It will be a rolling grant, awarded whenever the fund reaches $2,500.

Hosted by the Kariton Art Gallery and in partnership with Creative BC, the kick-off event will feature live music from Kuri, Whippoorwill and Saint Solider.

Attendees will also have the chance to learn more about the CRMC and the Common Room Recording Grant. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance online or at the door. Proceeds from ticket sales will go towards funding the grant.

“The artists performing are all people we’ve met at the songwriter nights,” said Dunning. “Attending this event would be the way to find out more and learn more about what we’re doing and aiming for.”

Launched in 2018, the CRMC aims to provide a safe and supportive network for Fraser Valley artists.

Their goal is to bring musicians together to share their craft and encourage collaboration.

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