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Ontario Place Revitalization Plans Include Expansion of Live Music Options

Today, Michael Coteau, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, announced the government’s plan to revitalize Ontario Place into a vibrant waterfront destination.

As per the release, the revitalized Ontario Place will offer public access to a spectacular part of Toronto and a mix of outdoor and indoor features, including the “expansion of live music options that will include continuing performances at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, as well as exploring options to bring live music acts to the site year-round.”

“Our government is committed to ensuring the future of Ontario Place continues to be a place for people of all ages to enjoy in every season,” said Minister Coteau. “Ontarians have said they want year-round public access, a continuation of the rich legacy of live music and a desire for an innovative destination that unites land and water — we listened and we are moving forward. Our bold new vision for Ontario Place revitalization will deliver on expectations and ensure the public interest is protected.”

Music Canada had advocated for making music a part of the Ontario Place revitalization, and promoted the idea of putting an outdoor green space for live music at the location during the consultation process.

In July 2012, the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Ontario Place Revitalization released a report containing 18 recommendations on how to transform Ontario Place, stating “music should continue to be a defining element of the site and its attractions.”

The report recommends: “Ontario Place should have a venue – like the original Forum – for a range of cultural activities, from concerts and theatre, to performances, festivals and community events. The new venue should be designed to operate year-round.” The report also recommends Ontario Place look at a range of entertainment and cultural activities to add vibrancy to the community and to offset operating costs.

As the Canadian Press reports, construction on the first phase of the revitalization, a new park and waterfront trail, will begin in the next few months, and is expected to open in 2016.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport’s Ontario Place Revitalization page.


Handout photo via Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport


Maclean’s editorial highlights value of music festivals in Canada

A new editorial in Maclean’s, Summertime, and the music is easy, highlights the value of music festivals in Canada, citing the economic benefits, artist development opportunities, use of historic and unique locations, and community building aspects of festivals.

Music tourism is one of five areas identified as a critical area for development in Music Canada’s Next Big Bang report. Noting that music tourism and marketing offer rewarding opportunities for economic growth and brand development at the provincial, regional and city levels, the report considers how we can harness the power of live music as an economic asset by developing a comprehensive music tourism strategy. The full report is available online, with the music tourism section beginning on pg. 42 of the PDF.


Canada Day 2014: Free Concerts Across The Country

Happy Canada Day! From coast to coast, we’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest free Canada Day concerts suitable for the whole family. Regardless of where you’re celebrating, don’t forget to bring water, a hat and sunscreen.


Thousands will join together on Parliament Hill to mark Canada’s 147th birthday. This year’s show will feature performances from national favourites like Serena Ryder, Marianas Trench, Whitehorse, French pop sensations Nadja and Daniel Lavoie, singer/impersonator Véronic DiCaire and Brett Kissel, who played the Minister’s Music Night in Ottawa 2013.

Canada Day in the Capital will be televised on CBC at 9 PM ET. The concert will be broadcast in its entirety live on CBC Radio 2 with host Tom Power (Radio 2 Morning) beginning at 8 PM ET. will also stream the concert live starting at 8 PM ET.

Canada Day in the Capital will highlight the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War, the end of the mission in Afghanistan and the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences, as well as our Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes.


Barenaked Ladies, Tegan & Sara will headline a jam-packed day of family-friendly activities at the new Charlottetown Event Grounds. All 10,000 advance free access passes for the PEI 2014 Canada Day Concert have been reserved, but an additional 5,000 free passes will be available on a first-come first-served basis Tuesday at the entrance gates.


From Noon to 6 PM, George St will host a family-friendly Rock & Soul Party, with face painting and balloon making for the kids. The schedule for music is Clean Sheets 1 PM, Chris Kirby & the Marquee AND Billy and the Bruisers 2pm, and The Rogues at 4pm.


Sam Roberts Band will headline a free annual concert at Alderney Landing with July Talk, The Belle Game and local favourite Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers. The day of activities begins with pancake breakfasts at Grand Parade and Alderney Landing, and the singing of the national anthem from Citadel Hill. There will also be a Tattoo Parade through downtown Halifax, the Maple Lodge Farms Family Fun-Fest on the Halifax Common, and a fireworks show on the harbour at 10 PM.


Bring your family down to Montreal’s Old Port for activity tents, an inflatable village and ceremonial 21-cannon salute. There will also be a concert beginning at 8:30 PM featuring Pascale Picard, Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli and many more.


Beginning at 5 PM, Mel Lastman Square in North York will host a fun-filled evening of live music and performances. Toronto alt-country singer/songwriter Justin Rutledge will take to the stage at 8 PM to play his Juno award winning catalogue and pay tribute to Canadian legends The Tragically Hip, playing songs off his latest cover album Daredevil. At 9 PM, roots rockers NQ Arbuckle will be performing music from their latest release The Future Happens Anyway with special guests.


Taking Place at The Forks, Winnipeg will have a free Canada Day event featuring 3 stages of Manitoba artists beginning at 1 PM. There are also tons of free activities for the whole family including a museum, obstacle courses and a photo booth.


Labelled “Canadayyc”, Calgary will host a huge all-ages Canada Day bash including live music from Mother Mother and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald on Riverfront stage, First Nations Powwow on Prince’s Island, Living Flag activity, Food Truck Roundup and BassBus at Festival Market, and an amazing Fireworks display presented by Hudson’s Bay. Download the app to make sure you catch everything!


Due to significant rainfall in the month of June, the city of Regina decided to scale back the festivities this year, which unfortunately meant cancelling headliners Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason. However, the show will go on, featuring DJ The Beat Attic with Shawn Jobin. An official statement from the Regina Canada Day Committee (RCDC) can be read here.


British Columbia’s largest Canada Day party will be taking place in Surrey with a free all-ages event headlined by Matthew Good. Highlights of the event include a half a million square feet of site area, an expanded Kids Play area, over 100 exhibitors, shooting Star Amusements with superior midway games and rides, and a spectacular fireworks for the grand finale. Gates open at 10 AM and music will be going on all day.


Music Cities Exchange Event a Huge Success


Public and private representatives from six cities gathered on Friday, June 20th to talk about music strategies in an event hosted by Music Canada, 4479, and NXNE. It was a twist on a panel – featuring 19 people in a moderated roundtable discussion in front of an audience. Video is now available, and is embedded below.

The cities represented were: Austin, Chicago, Hamilton, Kitchener, Montreal and Toronto. Kicking off the event, a new animated video was launched that summarizes the Toronto music city campaign led by 4479, and points out some of the best practices contained in Austin, Texas.
The fast-flowing discussion that followed covered a broad range of topics including:

  • regulatory issues,
  • business licensing,
  • music tourism strategies,
  • artist support and promotion,
  • export,
  • music education, and
  • interactions between music and other creative industries.

Moderator Amy Terrill started by asking panelists (listed below) from each city to talk about common themes that appear in their music strategies. For instance, there is generally a strong recognition in each city about the economic value of music with highlights including job creation, tourism, and investment attraction. Many of the cities have established music offices in order to help music businesses and artists navigate city hall.

Support and promotion of artists is also a common theme with city strategies varying from grants in Chicago to a resource centre in Kitchener to live performance opportunities in Austin. Hamilton panelists discussed the value of hosting the 2015 JUNOs in terms of providing performance opportunities for local musicians and bands as part of the festival. Toronto musician Miranda Mulholland provided examples of challenges facing career musicians, urging communities to remember that it is the artists who are at the heart of every music community.

Music tourism was also discussed. Amanda Garcia of Austin described the coordinated effort to promote Austin music on the road and to conventions, including how they work with local agents in programming music at conventions in the city. Dan Seligman of Montreal pointed out that the city, tourism agency and festival presenters work in cooperation to attract music fans to the city and that millions has been invested in the downtown area to support large scale music events. Andrew Weir of Tourism Toronto confirmed that music is a big draw for Toronto.

In the audience were many members of the Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council and guests from each of the 6 cities, as well as Calgary and Banff, Alberta. There was overwhelming support for a repeat of the exchange with Kitchener’s City Councillor Berry Vrbanovic recommending a digital meet-up every quarter!
The panelists were as follows:

  • Stephanie Bergara, Austin Music Division
  • Amanda Garcia, Austin Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
  • Mike Shea, SXSW
  • Chris Brecht, Musician and Austin Independent Radio
  • Dylan Rice, Chicago Music Officer
  • Jacqueline Norton, Hamilton Music and Film Office
  • Tim Potocic, Sonic Unyon Records
  • Carol Kehoe, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Lou Molinaro, This Ain’t Hollywood
  • Councillor Berry Vrbanovic, Kitchener
  • William Muir, The Sound Distillery
  • Silvia Di Donato, Kitchener Manager of Arts & Culture
  • Alysha Brilla, Recording Artist
  • Daniel Seligman, Pop Montreal
  • Miranda Mulholland, Recording Artist
  • Councillor Mike Layton, Toronto
  • Mike Tanner, NXNE
  • Andrew Weir, Tourism Toronto
  • Zaib Shaikh, Toronto Film Commissioner & Director of Entertainment

See some of the discussion from the panel in the video below:


Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage releases Review of the Canadian Music Industry report

Yesterday, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released its Review of the Canadian Music Industry report, available at

Music Canada applauds the Committee for its comprehensive study of Canada’s music industry, and thanks the Committee members for their care in considering testimony from witnesses across many different facets of Canada’s music industry. The Committee held 14 meetings on the study, hearing from 82 witnesses and receiving 15 briefs. This process allowed the Committee to hear from stakeholders from areas that they may normally have less opportunity to interact with, such as music education and music tourism.The Committee report focuses on five themes:

  • Digital distribution and streaming
  • Music education
  • Music tourism
  • Current funding – future investment
  • FACTOR/Musicaction

The report gives an overview of the current state of the Canadian music industry, summarizes witness testimony on the five themes, and considers outcomes proposed by witnesses on each theme.

The report provides the government with ten recommendations for strengthening its support for the Canadian music industry:

  1. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada examine the time that it takes for decisions to be rendered by the Copyright Board of Canada ahead of the upcoming review of the Copyright Act so that any changes could be considered by the Copyright Board of Canada as soon as possible.
  2. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with provincial authorities and other stakeholders to improve the musical knowledge and skills of Canadians.
  3. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with stakeholders in order to launch an information campaign on the actual cost of creating music, the negative impacts of illegal downloading and the importance of respecting the intellectual property of music creators, with an outcome of assisting the music industry in terms of improved measures and initiatives related to these issues, including preventing piracy.
  4. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada work with stakeholders from the Canadian music industry and the Canadian tourism industry to make music tourism in Canada a focus of marketing campaigns.
  5. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada study the economic impact of introducing a tax credit to support the Canadian music industry, taking inspiration, if needed, from those granted to the film and television industries.
  6. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada undertake a study of the impact of digital technology on the Canadian music industry and on government funding programs.
  7. The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage ensure that the various components of the Canada Music Fund reflect the changes in Canada’s music industry, including potential new sources of funding from the private sector, with special attention given to creators, entrepreneurs and independent producers.
  8. The Committee recommends that the administration of the Music Entrepreneur Component of the Canada Music Fund be transferred from the Department of Canadian Heritage to a new third-party organization(s) based on the model of FACTOR and Musicaction.
  9. The Committee recommends that the Department of Canadian Heritage ensure that the general public and recipients are aware that FACTOR and Musicaction funding is made on behalf of the Government of Canada.
  10. The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission the capacity to enforce the requirement for the private broadcasters to pay, in a timely manner, the required annual contribution for Canadian content development

It is positive that the Committee recommends the government examine the time it takes for decisions to be rendered by the Copyright Board of Canada ahead of the upcoming review of the Copyright Act. Numerous witnesses, including Music Canada, identified the length of time for decisions to be rendered by the Board as a cause of uncertainty in the legal landscape and a deterrent to progress. As the report notes, a dozen witnesses identified insufficient resources as a reason the rate-setting process is so lengthy. We support providing the Copyright Board with the proper tools, personnel and financing to function more as a business development office, as well as Parliament allowing rights holders and digital services to do deals directly at fair market value.

We are very pleased to see the Committee recognize the importance of music education to all Canadians. As the report notes, the positive effects of music education came up repeatedly during the Committee’s study, with several witnesses urging support for music education as it fosters critical thinking, imagination, self-esteem, and self-discipline, assets which are useful in an economy based on information technology and communications. It is gratifying to see our Next Big Bang report cited on this point in the report.

We are supportive of the Committee’s recommendation that the government work with stakeholders to develop information campaigns on the value of music, the negative impacts of illegal downloading, and the importance of respecting the intellectual property rights of creators. We would be very happy to work with the government in developing these campaigns.

The Committee’s recommendation that the government work with stakeholders from Canada’s music and tourism industries to make music tourism in Canada a focus of marketing campaigns is a very positive step. This study allowed the Committee to hear of the opportunities in music tourism from stakeholders such as North by Northeast, Live Nation Canada, and Ticketmaster Canada, all of who identified the enormous potential for in Canada’s live music sector. As well, the Committee heard from the Canadian Tourism Commission, who identified music as an important part of its marketing and tourism offerings, and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, who remarked that music and culture are “leading drivers for American visitation.”

We are very pleased to see the Committee recommend the study of introducing a tax credit to support the music industry, taking inspiration, if needed from the existing tax credit system for film and television industries. The development of artists is a form of R&D and is deserving of public support, similar to the tax credits available in other R&D-intensive industries.

The Committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the Report.

The report has the support of the three main parties, with some additional recommendations made by the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party. In particular, the Liberal complementary report suggests more comprehensive changes to Copyright Board based on testimony from witnesses.

Music Canada urges the government to support the findings of the report and looks forward to working with the government on implementing its recommendations.


In Australia, Victorian Coalition Government announces red tape reduction reforms to boost live music sector

Today in Australia, the Victoria Coalition Government announced a series of red tape reduction reforms in an effort to boost productivity and reduce costs for businesses in the state, including reforms for live music venues.

The reforms will make it easier for venues to host live music by easing unnecessary regulations related to liquor licenses.

”The hospitality sector will see the removal of an unnecessary regulation that requires liquor licensees to apply for approval to hold alcohol-free underage concerts on licensed premises, while other processes, including those around hosting live music, will be simplified,” said acting Premier and Minister for State Development Peter Ryan.

The main reforms affecting music include:

Under age venues : Currently licensees must obtain approval to hold alcohol-free underage and mix-aged live music events on licensed premises. This reform will remove that requirement

Small live music venues: Currently small live music venues wishing to undertake work to adapt or renovate to host live venues music attract permit and approval requirements based on the Building Code of Australia, Building Classification 9(b). This reform will simplify and reduce planning approval for change of land use for small venues seeking to host live music.

Temporary liquor licences: Currently a temporary limited liquor licence application must be lodged at least 8 weeks before an event. This reform will streamline the approval process for temporary liquor licences and examine the feasibility of introducing a notification process for repeat and low risk events run by licensees with a sound reputation.

The government has also promised to do whatever it can to implement an “agent-of-change” planning principle that would require residents who move into an area with established live music venues to foot the bill for any desired soundproofing.

Calling live music “one of Melbourne’s greatest tourism and cultural assets,’ Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the government would find a way to “give certainty” to the live music industry and its patrons.

Victoria’s State Government says the reforms were accepted following extensive consultation by Red Tape Commissioner John Lloyd, who met with 25 associations, including Music Victoria .

Over a year ago, Music Canada’s report highlighting the best practices in Austin, Texas hit Melbourne’s radar prompting city officials to contact Austin to learn more about their success .

Red Tape issues persist in Canadian live music sector:

In Toronto, some examples include:

  • Ambiguous licensing requirements: in response to concerns about dance clubs, the city created a new “entertainment license” that is not supposed to apply to live music venues, and yet, numerous venues have been fined for not having one.
  • Approvals for road closures often take many months, even for festivals that have a long track record.
  • Some public spaces are governed by Transportation, others by Parks Forestry Recreation. Lines of delineation are not clear.
  • Postering bylaw is ill-conceived and poorly enforced, with little understanding by City staff and bylaw enforcement personnel.

Music Canada and our partners in the live music sector have been advocating for the reduction in red tape at all three levels of government. Federally, we remain concerned about the effect of recent changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program that reduce the ability of bars and restaurants to hire international performers. We were pleased to see red tape reduction in the music sector identified as a priority in a recent whitepaper from the Ontario PC party. In Toronto, the establishment of the new Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council is a significant achievement for the music community, promising an opportunity to address concerns.

Music Canada is continuing to advocate for the creation of a Music Office at Toronto City Hall, which was one of the recommendations outlined in our aforementioned report, Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth – Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas , commissioned and released by Music Canada in 2012. A Music Office would “create a valuable alignment between the City and the commercial music industry in Toronto,” the report found.

The Music Office could provide coordination across the various city departments that deal with issues relating to live music events and venues, as well as act as an Ombudsman and clearing house for music business operators. The report notes this could make a significant impact in “re-engineering the business/government interface to stimulate job creation and investment attraction,” one of key recommendations made by the Toronto Prosperity Institute’s 2011 report, Establishing The Path To Growth . The Music Office could also play a strong business development role, stimulating the growth of activity in the music sector.

The groundwork for a Music Office has already been laid; the City of Toronto recently issued a job posting for a Sector Development Officer (Music) , working in the Economic Development & Culture division.

We will share today’s news out of Australia with our government contacts, and continue to advocate for music in Canada in 2014.


Ontario Arts Council releases comprehensive profile of Ontario’s Arts and Culture Tourists and Their Economic Impact

Today, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) released the Ontario Arts and Culture Tourism Profile, a report conducted by Research Resolutions & Consulting Ltd. and commissioned by the OAC. The report provides a comprehensive profile of Ontario’s arts and culture tourists and their economic impact. 

The report finds that 9.5 million overnight tourists participated in arts and culture activities in 2010, representing over one fifth of the 42.8 million overnight trips to Ontario that year. Of those 9.5 million arts and culture tourists, 66% were Canadian, 23% were American, and 1.1 million were from overseas. Arts and culture was a major draw for international tourists, with arts and culture tourists representing 39% of all American overnight visitors to Ontario in 2010, while 63% of tourists from overseas took part in arts and culture activity while visiting Ontario. 

The OAC 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. 

For more than 44% of the 20.8 million North Americans travelling to Ontario, at least one arts and culture activity was the main reason for their trip. 

Music was a major driver of Ontario tourism, as 6.5 million North American tourists took in music performances including classic, jazz, opera, popular/rock ‘n roll and country while visiting the province, making up approximately 31% of all North American tourists to Ontario. Music performances were the largest tourism driver among all Arts activities, with more attending concerts than theatre, art galleries, or ballet.

Of the 6.5 million tourists who attended music performances in Ontario, 44% of them said that the concert was their primary reason for traveling to Ontario, comprising a total of 2.9 million tourists who said that a concert was their main reason for traveling to Ontario.

The report also found that Arts festivals such as international film festivals, music, and/or literary festivals, drew 3.8 million tourists to Ontario. Music festivals were by far the biggest draw among Arts festivals, attracting 54% of these fans. The report says that “apart from music festivals, theatre is the only arts/culture trip driver to attract at least one third of group members (37%).”
While taking in arts and cultural activities, Ontario’s North American tourists also participate in many other types of activities during their trip, with 84% of them also participating in Outdoor experiences such as a nature park, and 75% of these tourists adding Shopping as part of their trip.

The Music Performance tourist group had the highest proportion of younger tourists (18 – 34 years) among all groups surveyed, with 36% of respondents in the younger age range, compared to 30% in the tourism market as a whole. 
The report also shows that the value of arts and culture overnight tourists is high, with arts and culture tourists outspending typical overnight tourists in Ontario by nearly two-to-one, spending $667 per trip in Ontario, compared to $374 spent by the typical overnight tourist.

The economic benefits of arts and culture tourists reach many other sectors, the report shows: 

  • Arts and culture tourists contributed $1.1 billion to the lodging sector, close to two-fifths of all spending on lodging by overnight tourists during the year (38%)
  • Arts and culture overnight tourists spent $1.1 billion on food and beverages, making up one-third of all overnight spending by overnight tourists (34%)
  • Arts and culture overnight tourists contributed $0.6 billion to the retail sector, or two-fifths of all spending by overnight tourists in Ontario (43%)
  • Over half of all spending by overnight tourists in Ontario came from arts and culture tourists (51%), who contributed $0.5 billion

In an OAC release, Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport said “Cultural tourism is a powerful force that is transforming global travel and trends. Our diverse arts, culture and heritage has helped us attract visitors from within our borders and beyond to explore and experience our exciting province. Our government is committed to evolving our tourism strategy to align with our cultural assets – for example, harnessing live music experiences that will drive our economy and firmly place Ontario on the international map as a premier cultural travel destination.”

“The conclusions that can be drawn from this ground-breaking study confirm that the instincts and vision of Minister Michael Chan are bang on,” said Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. “Despite the fact that music tourism has never been seriously promoted in Ontario in its history, among ALL arts activities, music remains the largest driver of tourism. It is also worth noting that music is an essential underpinning for cultural events perhaps not categorized as a music event; Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival, for example. We might also have regard to the category of “Arts Festivals.” Within this category, music festivals outclass all other sectors by a substantial margin.

And this is all without a PLAN or any focus. As our Austin study has shown, when a city or state puts its mind to it and develops a strategy, great things happen. In 5 short years, the economic impact of music in Austin jumped from $616 million to $1.3 billion. Fortunately, that is all about to change for Ontario, and the music community eagerly awaits the announcement by Minister Chan tomorrow at the Horseshoe.”


Make Music Part of the Ontario Place Revitalization

On February 1, 2012, the Government of Ontario announced plans to revitalize Ontario Place to make it a ‘must visit’ destination and landmark for Ontario families and tourists from around the world. The government of Ontario is seeking public input on how to revitalize Ontario Place: Music Canada is promoting the idea of putting an outdoor green space for live music at the location.


Live Music Generates Jobs and Spending in Toronto
  • Total economic impact of sound recording industry in Canada: $455.2 million with much of that in Toronto (Economic Impact Analysis of the Sound Recording Industry in Canada, PwC)
  • 2011 TD Toronto Jazz Festival generated total economic impact of $22.7 M
    • 298 full time equivalent jobs
    • 1/3 attendees live beyond 40 km radius of city
  • 40th anniversary JUNOs in Toronto had an estimated economic impact of $14.1M
  • NxNE generates more than $47M annually in economic impact to City of Toronto
Live Music is One of Toronto’s Key Assets
  • 4th highest ratio of music establishments per 100,000 residents in North America (Martin Prosperity Insights) with incredible indoor venues of all sizes including: The Horseshoe Tavern, Phoenix, The Sound Academy, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Massey Hall and the Air Canada Centre

However, Toronto lacks a key component: a viable downtown outdoor green space for live music.

Ontario Place can build on the success of the Amphitheatre to fill the gap.

Why Ontario Place?
  • The Amphitheatre is one of the few success stories in the park in the last decade
  • Experience shows that there is the market for a permanent outdoor venue
  • Toronto’s current assets do not have permanent facilities that include concession areas, backline, fencing and lighting
How to Help:

Add a comment on the Ontario Place Revitalization site to urge the government to develop a viable downtown outdoor green space for live music!


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