Shane Gibson/Metro Winnipeg Winnipeg’s own Del Barber performed at a provincial announcement Wednesday declaring 2014 as the Year of Music in Manitoba.

With three major music award ceremonies—including the JUNO Awards—coming to Winnipeg next year, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger officially declared 2014 the Year of Music in Manitoba Wednesday.

And with changes to the province’s liquor laws expected to make it easier for small venues to host live events taking effect Jan. 1, the declaration is more that just symbolic.

“Manitobans have always been very supportive of culture, this will create more opportunities for them to go out and see their local talent,” said Selinger, explaining the new laws mean licensed venues like bars and restaurants will no longer need seating for 200 people in order to have live musicians play. “It’s a real incentive for venues to host live music… and it creates opportunities for new groups forming in Manitoba to develop their cultural abilities and their talents in front of an audience.”

The new legislation will also scratch an old rule from the books that has kept live DJs who mix their own music from being considered live entertainment.

“It’s a big deal…because the reality is, in music these days there’s electronic music and DJs who didn’t count as live music before this,” explained Sara Stasiuk, executive director of Manitoba Music. “These are pretty massive steps towards fixing some of the big things that venues were saying they needed.”

As well as the JUNO Awards, Winnipeg will host the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards and the Western Canadian Music Awards next year.

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