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Sacramento conducts survey to improve city's live music experience, Mayor vows to cut red tape for local musicians

Sacramento pushing to become newest music capital
Sacramento pushing to become newest music capital 02:21

SACRAMENTO — Sacramento wants to be a city with music at its center, but how close is that vision to reality? Some local artists say it still has a way to go.

"The diversity of this city is incredible," Dinorah Klingler said. "There is music for everybody."

Klingler says she hopes to see some changes.

"I think we need more venues," she said. "More events that take into account people like us, the little guys."

A new music census released Monday highlights what the city does well and what it needs to improve.

"Creatives are committed to staying and playing and we want more of that," said Megan Van Voorhis, the cultural and creative economy manager with the City of Sacramento. "We don't want them to have to go somewhere else to do it."

One of the report's biggest takeaways was the lack of venues and opportunities for those just starting out.

"Most musicians are performing fewer than four times a month in Sacramento," Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.

That there is a belief among those in the community that the city prioritizes out-of-area vendors, promoters and musicians at the expense of local artists.

"I can say that I've had that frustration expressed to me," Van Voorhis said.

Van Voorhis said the improvements are all possible.

"Our cultural festivals are one of our most distinct assets that we have that we can do a lot more with, and I think there's a lot more on the music front we can do with that," she said.

One particular sticking point is streamlining permits for musical venues.

"We end up with no jobs," Klingler said. "Because if there's no permits, there's no jobs for us to be open to perform."

Mayor Steinberg said that's one of the first things on his list. It's why Monday night at his first of three "State of the City" addresses, he put a focus on the local music industry. 

Steinberg said he wants Sacramento to be the "music capital of the West Coast." He admits that the bureaucratic red tape at times silencing local musicians first has to be cut down.

"The number of gigs for local artists needs to go way up," Stenberg said Monday night at the address.

Julia Heath, the president of California's Independent Venue Association, was part of the panel and said Sacramento is behind cities like San Francisco and San Diego.

"It's a lot simpler to get a permit there and it's way less expensive as well," Heath said.

It starts with making permitting faster all online and streamlined.

Mayor Steinberg outlined seven changes Monday that he will present to the city council in October: 

  • Streamlining permitting for special events, entertainment licenses 
  • Establishing a single point of entry through the entertainment division at the city level 
  • Making the entire permitting process online 
  • Lessening the permit approval time for smaller events to taking no more than 10-14 days for approval, 30 days for midsize events 
  • Utilizing vacant spaces Downtown as pop-ups for the local music scene 
  • Reducing the cost of the permitting process by making it more efficient on the city's end and less expensive for the person seeking the permit 
  • Streamlining public safety to include clear guidelines that discourage harmful behavior without burdening those doing the right thing 

Sacramento sees millions of dollars pour in thanks to large festival gigs like Golden Sky, Sol Blume and Aftershock at Discovery Park. But this push is about our local artists — starting here at home and building from the ground up.

Mike Testa, director of Visit Sacramento, said it in turn boosts the economy.

"You want to create that vibrancy, you want to give people a reason to visit your city, to visit your downtown, and certainly, music does that," Testa said.

The next two of Steinberg's three State of the City addresses this week will take a turn and focus on its response to homelessness and then housing and roads.

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