2013 was a banner year for Music Canada’s advocacy efforts, with Toronto City Council, the Government of Ontario, and the Government of Canada all showing they recognize the value of the Canadian music sector, with all levels taking several concrete steps to grow the industry.
In Toronto, 2013 began with a landmark commitment to arts funding, as the 2013 Capital and Operating Budgets include a boost in arts funding derived from the billboard tax. Toronto artists celebrated as the Executive Committee endorsed a plan to increase funding to $25 per capita on arts programs and grants by 2016. Among the priorities listed in the motion put forward to the Executive Committee by Councillor Gary Crawford was “support for Toronto’s music cluster.” Unfortunately, in November, a City staff report recommended pushing back the target to 2018, although Councillor Crawford said he believes the 2016 target is still attainable, and plans to put forward a motion before the 2014 budget is finalized to phase in the funding by 2016.
In June, artists and musicians joined leaders from music, tourism and City Hall to launch 4479 – a campaign to position Toronto as one of the greatest music cities in the world. 4479 is designed to promote Toronto as a world leader in live and recorded music and also to build a community that engages artists, industry supporters and fans who share the vision of Toronto as a vibrant and diverse music city.
Later in June, Austin City Council voted in favour of a music city alliance with Toronto, creating the catalyst for the partnership between the two cities.
In July, Toronto City Council responded in kind, unanimously supporting a motion to establish a Music City Alliance with Austin. Members of Toronto’s music community expressed strong support for the alliance in a release issued by the 4479 campaign.
The 4479 website officially launched in September, with a video showcasing Toronto’s world class music scene, and advocacy tools and campaigns to encourage Toronto city councillors to “say yes to music” at upcoming votes at City Council.
The Alliance was made official in October , during a music and cultural business mission led by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Councillors Gary Crawford, Josh Colle, Doug Ford, and Michael Thompson, as well as representatives from the music sector, travelled to Austin, Texas.
The Alliance agreement states that the two cities will “work collaboratively to develop and expand all elements of the music industry, including but not limited to artists, venues, festivals, studios, management and promotion.”
The groundwork for a Music Office at City Hall was laid in October, when the City of Toronto issued a job posting for a Sector Development Officer (Music) , working in the Economic Development & Culture division. The creation of this position is an important milestone as it sends a clear signal that the city now regards music as an important economic sector. The creation of a Music Office at City Hall was one of the recommendations outlined in the Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth – Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas report, commissioned by Music Canada.
Also in October, Toronto City Council voted unanimously to request the Federal Government extend the Temporary Worker Fee exemptions for musicians to all venues, including bars, restaurants and coffee shops, adding weight to the concerns raised throughout the music community.
In November, Toronto’s Economic Development Committee voted unanimously to adopt the Terms of Reference for a Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council. The City of Toronto then solicited applications for membership on the Council, with an invitation to apply, membership application, and background materials posted on the City of Toronto’s website .
This week, Toronto City Council has approved the establishment of the new Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council , marking a significant success for the music community.
According to the staff report, the “Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council will provide a forum for the discussion of opportunities and challenges, exchange of ideas, input and advice, and collaborative development of recommendations and a unifying voice to advance the music sector in Toronto.”
Ontario made it clear in 2013 that the province recognizes music is an integral part of Ontario’s cultural landscape and an innovative economic driver:
In January, the Hon. Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, announced that the government of Ontario would be developing a live music strategy that will strengthen the province’s position as a global leader for live music.
Minister Chan made the announcement at an event at Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern, which featured performances by DJ Clymaxxx, The Good Lovelies, and the Skydiggers. The room was packed with leaders from the live and recorded music sectors as well as artists and musicians. Minister Chan also announced an Industry Working Group to develop the strategy and strengthen Ontario’s position as a global capital for live music.
Minister Chan’s announcement was buoyed by a report from the Ontario Arts Council, who released the Ontario Arts and Culture Tourism Profile in January. The report provides a comprehensive profile of Ontario’s arts and culture tourists and their economic impact. The report shows that arts and culture tourism has a significant economic impact in Ontario, with arts/culture tourist spending generating $3.7 billion in GDP in Ontario in 2010, supporting 67,000 jobs and $2.4 billion in wages and generating $1.7 billion in taxes for all levels of government.
The music industry was recognized as a key economic driver during the Ontario Liberal leadership debate in January, as Kathleen Wynne noted that the music industry is “absolutely an important economic driver for the GTA, for the City of Toronto.”
In February, Premier Wynne highlighted the music sector in a key economic section of the Speech from the Throne, among traditional Ontario powerhouse industries like agriculture and the automotive sector.
In May, the Ontario government announced plans to create the Ontario Music Fund that would help support and create jobs and position the province as a leading place to record and perform music. Speaking at Lee’s Palace, Finance Minister Charles Sousa revealed that the new Ontario Music Fund is a proposed $45 million grant program over three years, starting in 2013-14.
Premier Kathleen Wynne spoke at Music Canada’s Annual General Meeting in July, where she expressed her desire to make Ontario a place where artists and musicians can succeed. She reaffirmed her government’s commitment to the Ontario Music Fund and the Live Music Strategy, emphasizing the importance of music to our economy and our culture.
In August, the Ontario government launched its Pan Am and Parapan Am Games Promotion, Celebration and Legacy Strategy, which aims to increase the economic benefits of the 2015 Games and support them in becoming the People’s Games. A key part of the strategy is a plan to celebrate and showcase Ontario talent from “the stage to the stadium” in local communities. This includes enhancing support for live music, celebrations and festivals, adding to Ontario’s reputation as a live music destination.
The Ontario Music Fund was officially launched in October, with the Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport making the announcement at Revolution Recording studio in Toronto. As per the release, the new fund will support Ontario-based music companies and music production and distribution through four streams:
The Ontario Music Fund is administrated by the Ontario Music Office, with more information available on their website.
In July, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named The Honourable Shelley Glover as Minister of Canadian Heritage, with the Honourable James Moore moving to a new role as Minister of Industry Canada.
Both Minister Glover and Minister Moore underscored music’s importance to Canadian culture and Canada’s economy at two Minister’s Music Nights in 2013, which were produced by Music Canada and Quebecor.
The most recent event was hosted by the Honourable Shelly Glover, and featured terrific performances by Kaïn & Brett Kissel at the Museum of Civilization (History). The event also featured music from students of Hillcrest High School, an Ottawa, ON, school that features music education as a key part of their community and curriculum.
At the event, Minister Glover spoke passionately about the talent and diversity of Canada’s music scene, as well as the economic and cultural benefits of our music sector.
“I have always been very impressed by the talent and diversity of the artists who shape the music scene in Canada. I am particularly inspired by the number of talented young artists who keep music new and exciting,” said Minister Glover. “Canada’s recording industry is the seventh-largest in the world, generating almost $3 billion in economic activity every year. Thanks to the talent and creativity of our artists, Canada is the third-largest exporter of musical talent in the world.”
Back in February, then-Heritage Minister James Moore hosted invited guests at the National Arts Centre as Johnny Reid and Étienne Drapeau performed. Prior to the concert, both artists toured Parliament Hill with Minister Moore, and met with several MPs and Senators in a reception hosted by The Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons.
In August, Music Canada expressed concern about changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program that affect some Canadian music venues featuring international performers. It is our belief that these impacts are unintended consequences of regulations designed to protect jobs for Canadians. While this policy is borne out of a valid concern for Canadian employment, it will reduce the ability of bars and restaurants that host live music to hire international performers. Music Canada is optimistic that insightful exceptions can be extended to musicians performing in all venues, and look forward to the resolution of this issue.
Looking back, 2013 was a banner year for Music Canada’s advocacy efforts in Toronto, Ontario, and Canada, which we hope will lead to greater opportunities for Canadian artists and musicians and the teams that work with them. With all levels of government taking several concrete steps towards growing our music sector this year, the stage is set for a terrific 2014.