A new fundraising initiative at the Plaza Hotel’s Tumbleweed Lounge will mean more money in the pockets of Kamloops’ youth music programs.
Tumbleweed Lounge manager Troy Schank has started Busker’s Corner, an open mic space for entertainers.
Soon to be added to that open mic feature is a space for youth to share their talents — with help from other Tumbleweed staff.
“We’ll do an open mic night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., where we’ll allow any age — but mostly geared toward students and kids — who want to express themselves a little bit,” said server and fundraising manager Megan Drennan.
The lounge is also planning a kickoff event at the end of January that will feature dinner, live acoustic performances by community youth and local artists and a silent auction.
The date for the kickoff event is still to be determined.
In the interim, Schank and staff are working on connecting with local businesses to support the initiative.
Also to be determined is who will benefit from the fundraiser.
“We started off thinking we’d just donate it to one school, but we realized we have a lot of interest and want to reach out to the community and see where this money is really needed,” Drennan said.
Open mic nights are planned for Tuesdays and Thursdays. On each of those nights, one dollar from every bill over $20 will be set aside and be donated to a youth music program.
The Plaza Hotel has also pledged to help the cause.
Drennan said the hotel will pick some dates on which a percentage of room bookings will be donated.
Drennan has been working with at-risk youth as she studies at TRU with plans to become an elementary school teacher.
“I’ve seen the impact that arts in general and self-expression can have on the young mind, helping kids develop themselves into successful adults,” she said.
“The people who tend to have these opportunities really can succeed, so I think the community really needs to back these kinds of things.”
Emceeing the Busker’s Corner proceedings is Kevin Roy, who does bookings for the lounge and might be a familiar face — or voice — to locals, making headlines a few years ago as the “karaoke cop” who serenaded patrons of The Central Station Pub a few years ago.
Roy retired from the force over the summer and has now changed his focus. “I said, you know what, music has always been a passion of mine and now I’m really embracing it,” Roy said.
Roy said that his six-year-old son is his “little protege” and has inspired him in his musical pursuits.
He said he thinks the fundraising initiative and stage for youth is “fantastic.”
“There’s a lot of arts programs in Kamloops but in the actual entertainment community, there’s not a lot kids can do,” Roy said.
“There’s not really that venue they can go to and actually play and perform in and get that taste of being in front of an audience. It’s just a totally different beast to be in front of actual people.”
Schank said the lounge is also planning to host paint nights in the future.