The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame’s future in Merritt received another sign of confidence from its national partners with a three-way, 10-year agreement for the hall’s operations.
The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and Canadian Country Music Heritage Society, successor to the Merritt Walk of Stars, signed the agreement in a ceremony at the hall on Quilchena Avenue June 2. The National Music Centre in Calgary, though not present for the signing, has agreed to the deal as well.
“We are a hundred per cent committed to this,” said CCMA executive director Don Green.
The signing ceremony was part of the society’s annual gala weekend in Merritt, which included performances from 2012 Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductees Russell DeCarle and Michelle Wright in a banquet and concert at the Merritt Civic Centre.
In 2011, the association, National Music Centre, and the Merritt Walk of Stars announced that the groups had decided how the centre and the Walk of Stars would share responsibility for the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame plaques and an attached memorabilia collection.
Walk of Stars president Ron Sanders said that the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society would succeed the Walk of Stars and take over the hall of fame and the cement handprints from country musicians found throughout Merritt.
A new agreement was necessary since last year’s deal was made with the Merritt Walk of Stars, not the new society, Sanders explained.
The hall of fame plaques have been in Merritt since 2008 but could not be displayed since the Cantos Music Foundation, the organization building the National Music Centre, held the rights to the name “Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame” and memorabilia.
Sanders said that under the new agreement, the National Music Centre would share its programs with the local hall of fame.
“This isn’t going to be a museum.
“We want this to be an active place.”
He said the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society has received some funding for staff to operate the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame this summer.
Sanders had said in late 2009 that the hall would open in spring 2010, but the opening date was repeatedly pushed back.
At the signing ceremony, CCMA board member Wendell Ferguson noted that the champagne for toasting the agreement was donated last year.
At the evening gala, Sanders touted the latest agreement as a “turning point” for the hall of fame.
“We’ve been working on this project for three years now and we truly got it done today. “It’s got a stability that will last forever.”
The agreement outlines the requirements the society must meet for the hall of fame’s operations, such as the number of opening hours. Assuming those conditions are met, the deal will be automatically renewed.