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Tag archive: John Tory (14)

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City of Toronto Addresses Postering Issue

We are pleased to hear that Toronto’s live music venues will no longer be receiving fines for postering around the city.

On June 8, 2015, a memo from Tracey Cook, Executive Director of the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division and Mike Tanner, Music Sector Development Officer, informed the Toronto Music Advisory Council of the recent decision. This is considered just one step in the City of Toronto’s efforts to support and address the concerns of Toronto’s growing music community.

The poster ordinance prohibited postering on all city property except for designated kiosks and allowed for fines to be issued to anyone who benefited from the poster in question. Because of this, many of Toronto’s music venue owners found themselves being charged with fines of $300 to $500 for posters that they did not put up. In most cases, the fines against these venues did not hold up when challenged in court, but they continued to be issued anyways. This created an unnecessary and costly expense for live music venues operating in Toronto.

Music Canada called attention to the postering issue in March 2012 with the release of its report, Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth—Leveraging Best Practices from Austin Texas. The Austin-Toronto report led to communications with affected stakeholders in the music community, as well as with city councillors and officials to bring the postering issue to their attention and help find possible solutions.

The Toronto Music Advisory Council worked collaboratively with Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Division, as well as the City’s Film and Entertainment Industries unit to secure this critical policy change. The City has committed to continued collaboration with the Toronto Music Advisory Council to build and support the music community in Toronto.

This is a policy change that we have looked forward to, and one which demonstrates the City and Mayor John Tory’s commitment to making Toronto one of the greatest Music Cities in the world. Music friendly policies like this are essential for the growth and continued health of Toronto’s live music scene.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: 3 Ways John Tory’s Announcement Will Help Toronto’s Music Sector

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting South by Southwest in Austin, TX, as part of the delegation that included Mayor John Tory, Councillors Michael Thompson and Josh Colle, as well as Zaib Shaikh and Mike Tanner from the City of Toronto, Jeff Cohen of Collective Concerts, Sari Delmar of Audio Blod, Jesse Kumagai of Live Nation, and my Music Canada colleague Amy Terrill, and I am pleased to see the mission bearing fruit as this week the Mayor announced the steps the City of Toronto will take to better utilize the terrific competitive advantage that music offers our city.

The mayor ran on a platform that specifically included music, which was an amazing first for Toronto. By choosing to make his first business mission all about music, the Mayor not only demonstrated his belief in the importance of music to Toronto, but he also sent a strong signal to Toronto’s music community that he intends to make good on his promises. Many of the changes that Mayor Tory promised this week are very achievable and will bring swift improvements to the livelihood of Toronto’s artists and others working in the music sector, and in turn, benefit the entire city.

For example, Mr. Tory announced that he will conduct a thorough review of existing city bylaws and the permitting policies that affect music events and musicians. There are many small steps that can be taken to remove red tape, which will have an immediate impact on Toronto musicians and venues. A perfect example: last Friday I attended an excellent show at Hugh’s Room, and was dismayed to learn that the venue received a $490 fine for a poster on a nearby utility pole.

Who does this help? It makes it harder for the venue to operate, certainly. For many venues, it would wipe out their profits for the night – too many of those, and they may decide it’s not worth the hassle and close their doors. Fortunately, Mayor Tory has recognized that this type of red tape counters our efforts to establish Toronto as a Music City. During Monday’s press conference he stated: “We will miss opportunities where our own talent will get impatient with us and go somewhere else.” This is very true, and I am glad the Austin example has impressed the importance of City Hall working in concert with the music sector on the Mayor.

The Mayor also spoke of the need to promote Toronto specifically as a music destination for tourists. This was one of the key recommendations from our Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth, Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas report, and Music Canada has already started down this path with the creation of the 4479 initiative, which celebrates what makes Toronto one of the greatest music cities in the world: the music, the people, the places, and the city. Mr. Tory identified several opportunities to include a strong music presence in large Toronto events that the City is already taking part in, such as the Pan Am Games, Pride, and Caribana. The Mayor also spoke of looking into public-private partnerships in this space, which presents many opportunities. For example, Tourism Toronto has been a fantastic champion of the power of music tourism, highlighting local music offerings in their 2014 and 2015 editions of their flagship Toronto Magazine. A coordinated music tourism promotion campaign would also dovetail very nicely with Ontario’s Live Music Strategy, which is strengthening the live music scene across the province. At his announcement, the Mayor mentioned Austin’s live music guidebook and smart phone app, which helps tourists find live music easily in the city, helping promote local artists and venues. OntarioLiveMusic.ca, which was developed by Music Canada under contract to the Ontario government, provides a comprehensive listing of live music in Ontario – the Toronto data could be localized and licensed for the City’s use to quickly create a comprehensive listing for Toronto.

Another major point from Mr. Tory’s announcement was how a strong music scene can benefit businesses in other sectors. “The table stakes for economic development in cities like Toronto and Austin is the ability to compete successfully for talent,” said Mayor Tory. “I have been to Austin and I have seen how creative sectors like music, film and technology drive economic growth, job creation, investment and tourism – and help attract and retain young talent. If we’re going to bring more jobs, and attract and keep world class talent in Toronto, we need to focus on promoting and growing our creative sectors and this summit will be critical to that process.”

This is an important point, and something that we learned through our research with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) last year. The ICTC report, Music – A Catalyst For Technology Hubs And Innovative Talent, found that a strong cultural scene can be a significant advantage for a city looking to retain the creative and innovative workers that today’s creative industries require. Austin has utilized this strategy very effectively, and now makes music an explicit part of their economic development pitch to tech companies. We have also completed research in Alberta, and found that a strategic approach to developing their music sector could lead to economic diversification, and help attract the young, affluent workers that other industries desperately need. Currently, Music Canada is developing a report that examines global best practices for music sector development, which will be released this summer.

Mayor Tory also outlined several other steps and goals in driving economic development through music, including:

  • Hosting a summit with business and key music industry stakeholders from Toronto and Austin this fall
  • Strengthen the City’s Entertainment Industries Office to assist in putting music on a growth path similar to that of film.
  • Explore the opportunity in the initiation/expansion of an interactive conference similar to the SXSW Interactive Festival

As always, it will take both effort and commitment to achieve these goals. But as our research indicates, the benefits will make our efforts worthwhile – both for our musicians and those working in the music sector, and for the community at large. Mayor Tory has shown that he recognizes the opportunities that the music sector presents, and he has sent a strong signal that he intends to achieve these goals. I am glad to have a strong champion of music at City Hall, and I look forward to working together to harness the power of music in Toronto.

 

Graham Henderson is the President and CEO of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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What last night’s municipal election results mean for music sector development in Ontario

Last night, voters across Ontario went to the polls to vote in municipal elections, determining new leadership in Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Brampton, London, Windsor, and more.

In Toronto, residents elected John Tory to be the city’s 65th mayor. Music Canada has congratulated Mayor-Elect Tory, and we look forward to working with him and the newly elected council to continue to develop Toronto’s music sector. Many of the returning councillors have demonstrated a deep understanding of the value of music in Toronto and have supported efforts to promote and stimulate this important sector.

Early in his election campaign, Tory announced plans to support the growth of the music industry in Toronto. His plan is made up of three main points:

  1. Support the creation of a stand-alone Music Office: one stop shop to get things moving
  2. Work with the live music community to attract more music tourists to Toronto
  3. Work with the Music Community to Create a Plan for a more active Outdoor Festival Schedule

Tory reiterated his plans for the music sector in our music policy survey, stating that Toronto’s “Music Office will be established within the Economic Development department and will open in 2015” and adding “the importance of the music community and the broader creative sector cannot be understated.”

In his acceptance speech, Tory spoke of the need to tackle unemployment for youth in Toronto, and spoke of plans to work with business partners to foster opportunities for young people. Music can help. Our Next Big Bang report recommends municipalities work with their music communities in order to support local music scenes, and leverage them to attract music tourists, attract and retain creative workers, and attract businesses from all sectors of the economy. A 2009 report on the future of tourism in Ontario found that tourism is the single largest employer of young people in the province, and our Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth, Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas report applies specific best practices to Toronto.

Toronto has made great strides in the development of its music sector in recent years; notably with the hiring of a music sector development officer last month, the creation of the Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council last December, and the partnership with Austin, Texas in the world’s first Music City Alliance, signed in October 2013. Tory’s plans to create a stand-alone Music Office will continue this momentum by reducing red tape and stimulating greater activity in the music community.

 

Elsewhere in the province, a number of strong candidates who have been strong advocates for the music sector were elected as well:

Congratulations to Berry Vrbanovic, who was elected mayor of Kitchener last night, building on his 20-year experience as a city councillor. As a councillor, Vrbanovic championed music as an economic driver and a vital contributor to local culture. Vrbanovic represented Kitchener at last summer’s Music Cities Exchange panel, which was hosted by Music Canada, 4479, and NXNE, and featured public and private representatives from six cities that are working proactively to develop their local music sectors.

Vrbanovic promoted the development of Kitchener’s arts and creative sectors as part of his platform, calling for further development of Kitchener’s Music Works program by creating a film and music officer position and pursuing provincial funding to develop a music resource centre. Vrbanovic also states his support for the continued development of the live music scene in Kitchener’s downtown entertainment district, and intent to work with Waterloo Region Tourism to develop tourism promotion opportunities.

 

Congratulations to Jeff Leiper, who was elected councillor in Ottawa’s Kitchissippi ward. In his recent role as Vice President, Strategic Communications, Research and Policy at the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), Leiper was instrumental in the development of the Music – A Catalyst For Technology Hubs And Innovative Talent report, which was supported by Music Canada and released last year. The report found that support from all levels of government for music education and scenes can help foster a talented tech workforce. Music education, the report finds, helps bridge gaps between technical know-how and critical soft skills, while the presence of music scenes in cities can help attract and retain skilled workers.

Leiper has also promoted music tourism and the development of Ottawa’s music sector as part of his platform, campaigning on the creation of a Music Office in Canada’s capital city. “As a researcher, I’ve taken a look at the economic benefits of focusing on music performance in a city – specifically using great music scenes as a way to attract tech workers,” wrote Leiper in June.

 

Several other cities have implemented or explored ways to build and capitalize on their music sector for greater economic benefits, including Windsor, London, Hamilton, St. Catharines, and Peterborough. Music Canada looks forward to working with municipal leaders throughout the province to help them advance their communities through music.

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Toronto Music Policy Survey – 2014 Mayoral Candidates

Music Canada is a passionate advocate for music and those who create it, identifying ways to strengthen Canada’s music sector.

Our research shows that Toronto has the potential to be the greatest music city in the world. It is the third biggest music market in North America, and is home to a vibrant music scene. This is why Music Canada has also led the 4479 Toronto Music City initiative, and why this survey has been created. Music Canada has surveyed Toronto’s mayoral candidates in order to raise awareness of music issues in Toronto, and to secure music friendly commitments.

We asked Olivia Chow, Doug Ford, and John Tory three questions on key music policies as identified by Music Canada. We have listed their responses alphabetically below, and encourage Torontonians to consider a candidate’s positions on music policy when casting their ballot. Voting day is Monday, October 27, 2014, and Advance Polls are open now through October 19th. For information on how or where to cast your vote, visit the City of Toronto’s Election Services site.

 

Toronto Music Policy Survey – 2014 Mayoral Candidates

Toronto’s live music venues, concert promoters, and studio owners have all revealed that regulations and red tape at City Hall are creating an impediment to business growth. Based on best practices from Austin, Texas, Music Canada has recommended that the City of Toronto create a Music Office within its Economic Development & Culture Division. With a modest budget, this office would assist Toronto’s music community in navigating city infrastructure and regulations, and in stimulating business development opportunities, all of which will lead to greater investment and employment in the music sector.
We asked: How will you support the creation of a Toronto Music Office?
Olivia ChowOlivia Chow “As an artist herself, Olivia has a history of championing the arts. Olivia will create the Toronto Music Office, which could be paid for with increased revenue from the billboard tax. Like the Film Office already does to support film in our city, the Music Office will create an even more attractive environment for music and culture in our city.Olivia supports making city services work for people, from small business tax cuts to ensuring that economic development agencies in the city streamline their processes. Austin, Texas is a leader on the music front and we can do the same here in Toronto with a much larger population and pool of artists. This will build on the incredible musical talent in our city, and the music festivals and awards shows that already attract so many to our city.”
Doug Ford
Doug Ford
“I believe in the power of the music industry to stimulate our economy, bring jobs to our city and create a vibrant cultural scene. In the past four years we have supported the arts and we have supported Toronto’s music industry. We increased arts funding by $22 million to support arts and culture in Toronto. I am also very proud of our work in partnership with Music Canada to help advance the music industry by travelling to Austin Texas on Toronto’s first music industry business mission. In Austin we signed the world’s first Music Cities Alliance between Toronto and Austin. We have also helped fund a new position at City Hall to liaise with the music industry to help them do business with the City of Toronto. We want to replicate the success we have seen with Toronto’s Film Office and apply that same approach to the Music Industry. I will work with stakeholders like Music Canada to make sure we expand on this and create fully functional Music Office at the City of Toronto.”
John Tory
John Tory
“John Tory’s “Music City” policy is an important part of his larger Arts and Culture policy which acknowledges the vital contribution the creative sector makes to the city. The creative sector creates the conditions for the city to thrive – it builds our international reputation, employs hundreds of thousands of people, and contributes billions to our GDP. It is important that the city creates the conditions for our creative sector to thrive.In May during Canadian Music Week, John announced his plan to support the growth of the music industry in Toronto. Included in his “Music City” program is the commitment to establish a new stand–‐alone Music Office which will act as a one stop shop for the music community.The City of Toronto can learn from its efficient and collaborative work with the film and television community. The city’s film office has succeeded in improving customer service has helped to increase the level of activity in Toronto in this important creative sector. Based on this success story, and a similar experience in Austin Texas in the music sector, the City of Toronto will benefit from the creation of a Music Office. The Music Office will be established within the Economic Development department and will open in 2015. The Music Office will be expected to accomplish two main goals: reduce red tape and stimulate greater economic activity in the music community. Both of these activities will help to reduce the impediments to business growth currently being faced by the music community in Toronto. Targets will be set and progress measured over a 5 year term. Expected results will include greater activity in the music sector, increased employment and private sector investment, and greater efficiency at City Hall.The Music Office will be supported in its work by the Toronto Music Advisory Council which was established in December 2013 and reports to the Economic Development Committee. John commits to extending the mandate of the Music Advisory Council.”

 

Tourism is an important part of Toronto’s economy, with almost ten million overnight visitors in 2010, generating over four million in city revenue. The specific impact of music tourism on Toronto’s economy has yet to be measured, though given the concentration of the music industry in the GTA, it could be significant. Working with the music community, the City of Toronto and Tourism Toronto could quantify existing music tourism revenues and develop targeted initiatives to further increase its impact.
We asked: How will you champion the development of a music tourism strategy for Toronto?
Olivia Chow
Olivia Chow
“Olivia has committed to seeing the city invest more in the arts, bringing our investment from $22.5 per capita to $25 per capita. With worldclass awards shows like Polaris Music Prize and the MMVAs, and festivals like Pride Toronto and the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival, Toronto is a cultural capital unlike any other. Our commitment to investing in parks and green space in our city will reduce red tape surrounding large events and help support street festivals and open streets initiatives. Through strategies like this, we can continue to make our city a vibrant and dynamic cultural centre.”
Doug Ford
Doug Ford
“When we went down to Austin, Texas, last year I saw the power of the music industry first hand. Austin is a City one third the size of Toronto, yet they have created a thriving music industry that generates three times the economic activity of Toronto’s. I learned a lot in Austin, I learned the potential of the music industry to drive tourism and stimulate economic development. I will support Toronto’s music industry to help it thrive. A vibrant cultural scene makes a City more attractive to visitors, investors and businesses alike. I will drive a music tourism plan through the Economic Development Committee to ensure we are doing everything we can at the City of Toronto to attract more music tourism to our city.”
John Tory
John Tory
“John Tory believes our creative sector is one of our best tourism assets. Addressing the barriers to growth in music activity by establishing a Music Office will, in itself, help to further boost the opportunity to attract music tourists. Festivals, concerts and other music events, staged throughout the city, will position Toronto as a key destination for music tourists. John is also committed to facilitating greater connectivity for tourists to Toronto’s creative hotspots through the SmartTrack line. This will improve the overall tourist experience, as well as benefit Toronto residents who want to access music events. Increasing the audience, whether drawn from afar or here at home, will create greater demand for live performances and therefore, generating more opportunities for artists and musicians to perform.Toronto’s destination marketing organization, Tourism Toronto, should work with the music community in order to further incorporate Toronto’s music story into our tourism marketing.”

 

Toronto has an active and culturally vibrant live music scene, but red tape at City Hall has made it difficult for new and existing festivals and events to put on live music in Toronto’s parks and squares.
The application process is ambiguous and unclear, and can be overwhelming for people who are unfamiliar with it. If City Council were to place a higher priority on live music there would be a greater impetus to overcome these barriers.
We asked: How will you support the growth and development of live music in Toronto?
Olivia Chow
Olivia Chow
“At the beginning of this year the Fords went after Electronic Dance Music (EDM) in our city and tried to prevent any EDM on city property, especially on the Exhibition grounds. Olivia has been a long-time supporter of safe EDM events on public property. As a city councillor, she worked to reverse an ill-conceived ban on raves in public spaces and bring in protocols to ensure the events were safe and fun.The city has a vital role to play in facilitating great music in our city. The Toronto Music Office will lead this effort and we need to make sure that there are places, throughout our city, that can easily serve the needs of music artists. Fort York, for example, has become a musical and event destination in our city. Olivia has pledged to reduce the red tape and process in getting permits on public space.4479 is a great initiative that will help move our city’s cultural sector ever more forward. Olivia looks forward to working with 4479, Music Canada, other partners, and the new Toronto Music Office to make our city even better.”
Doug Ford
Doug Ford
“I will support the creation of a music office to make it easier for the music industry to operate in Toronto, especially the live music scene. Toronto already has an amazing live music scene, we have amazing festivals like NXNE. I believe what we need to make Toronto’s live music scene even better is more cohesion between the industry and the City and a concerted effort from the City of Toronto to make it easier to get permits for live music events. In Austin we attended the ACL music festival, a live music events that attracts thousands of visitors and generates over $100 million in economic activity each year. I want to bring a live music festival to match ACL to Toronto, while still supporting our existing music events and helping them grow. I am also committed to exploring the creation of a music industry incubator to support new music industry startups.”
John Tory
John Tory
“The importance of the music community and the broader creative sector cannot be understated. In addition to the direct economic benefits that result from a vibrant music sector, live music also serves as a magnet for tourism, investment and talent (both inside and outside the creative community). In order to ensure greater communication with the creative community, John will appoint a Creative Economic Advocate within the Mayor’s office who will act as a liaison to the Mayor. This measure will, along with other initiatives, ensure that the creative community and its benefits, including music, are better understood and appreciated by City Council and staff.In regards to presenting music in particular, the establishment of a Music Office will help to eliminate the barriers facing music presenters who wish to program Toronto’s underutilized spaces, and help to stimulate greater activity in the music community through business outreach efforts. A large international festival, for instance, is a missing critical component in Toronto’s music infrastructure. Whether growing an existing festival, or attracting the creation of a new festival, John will support efforts to fill this gap.”

For more information on Toronto’s municipal election, visit the City of Toronto’s Election Services page.

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