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Tag archive: TOMusicCity (10)

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City of Toronto’s recently released Economic Development and Culture Divisional Strategy provides framework for arts, culture, and business to thrive

The City of Toronto has released its new Economic Development and Culture Divisional Strategy. The report establishes the Division’s priorities over the next five years (2018-2022), and provides the framework that will be used to guide the development of the Divisional programs and services.

The development of the Strategy included robust consultation with over 400 city residents and industry partners, a process that Music Canada was an active participant in. The feedback received provided insight into the importance of supporting the culture sector, and its key role in supporting the growth of a vibrant economy and business community.

Some of the key objectives the strategy aims to accomplish was to “encourage Toronto’s cultural vibrancy through more and enhanced cultural experiences,” as well as to further “engage partners in the planning and development of the City’s economic and cultural resources.”

The Economic Development and Culture (EDC) Divisional Strategy includes several strategic goals and actions, with a focus on improving four key areas:

  1. Equity and Inclusion
  2. Talent and Innovation
  3. Space and Access
  4. Operational Excellence

Some of the strategy’s areas of interest are highlighted below:

Improving affordability and access to arts and culture spaces

One of the key goals that is outlined in the strategy is working to “improve access and affordability of space for business and culture.” Some of the proposed actions to address this include: leveraging incentives and grants to support access to these spaces, advocating for the establishment of affordable, sustainable spaces for business and culture, and working to support opportunities for multi-tenant, shared spaces and hubs.

As was highlighted in our Mastering of a Music City report, access to affordable arts and culture facilities (spaces and places) is vital to the health of vibrant Music Cities. Rapidly rising rents and property taxes has significantly impacted the ability of live venues, rehearsal spaces, and arts hubs to continue operating, threatening the livelihoods of the artists who require access to them. The City has taken steps to help protect and support cultural facilities, with the most recent action being the creation of a new tax subclass to support arts/culture hubs and properties.

Another positive step to note was the recent decision of the Economic Development Committee to pass a number of Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC) recommendations aimed at providing better support for live music in the city. Of particular interest is the recommendation to create tax benefits for local live music venues, a policy action that would help achieve the key priority of venue sustainability.

Enhancing opportunities for artists and creators to access public spaces

Another key goal included in the EDC Strategy was increasing access to City-owned space, through: improving opportunities for community use of EDC-managed facilities, and working with City divisions to explore the feasibility of making other City-owned spaces available for use. Providing opportunities for local musicians to perform in public spaces within their own city is one of the ways a municipality can help to grow and support its vibrant music ecosystem.

Outstanding examples of these types and events and programming include City Hall Live and the YYZ Live performance series, a musical celebration that featured 150 performances from 75 local artists at Pearson International Airport.

 

The EDC Division’s previous two strategies – released in 2011 and 2013 – helped contribute the development of a Toronto Music Strategy, as well as the establishment of Music and Film Sector Development Teams.

It is encouraging to note that the new strategy further solidifies the City’s commitment to supporting the culture sector, recognizing the tremendous cultural and economic impact of the arts.

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Making the most of Toronto’s UNESCO Designation

Toronto joined an exclusive club made up of 180 cities worldwide last week when the City of Toronto and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) announced that Toronto has been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. While there may not have been much media coverage of the pronouncement, the city’s creative industries ought to be paying attention.

This makes Toronto one of the first cities in Canada to join the network, which was started in 2004 and includes designations for Media Arts, Music, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Design and Crafts and Folk Art.  Toronto’s designation of Media Arts is an attempt to capture the city’s achievements in not one, but several disciplines: “film, music, digital media and forms of cultural expression using technology”.

Few people in Canada may be familiar with UNESCO’s Creative City Network and are perhaps more familiar with its historical site designations or research.  This is not a surprise as North America has been relatively slower to join this party.  In fact, despite much attention given to Music Cities in North America, including many cities that build their brand on the artform, the first UNESCO City of Music in North America (Kansas City) has only just now been designated.

The international recognition of Toronto’s creative sector efforts is cause for celebration.  However, the designation should not be seen as the finish line, but as a springboard for further action. Based on our worldwide scan of Music City strategies, it is clear that the UNESCO designation has the potential of falling into the category of a public relations exercise.  But only if we let it.

In some cities, the designation has mobilized a comprehensive program for the promotion, protection and growth of the creative industry for which it is earned.  The UNESCO designation has, in other cases, ensured sustained political leadership on creative industry development and investment.  The network itself has afforded some cities with practical sharing of knowledge and best practices.

Toronto’s entire music community – including artists and industry – has an opportunity to make sure that the UNESCO designation has meaning.  We can leverage the UNESCO designation to secure an ongoing commitment to our music strategy and key priorities like venue sustainability, regulatory red tape reduction, livability for artists and musicians and access to spaces and places for the creation, rehearsal and production of music.  We can also use it to reinforce music’s equal standing alongside our partners in film and digital media.

UNESCO’s Creative City Network is definitely what we make it.   Let’s take ownership of this opportunity, and prove what we already know: Toronto can be the greatest Music City in the world.  We define it, and now we have another tool to help us build it.

 

UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network promotes cooperation between global cities that place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans.

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Toronto Live Music Industry Forum to focus on venue sustainability

On Monday, November 13, Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC) chairs Jeff Cohen (Collective Concerts) and Jesse Kumagai (Live Nation) will moderate an open discussion about the most pressing issues facing live music venues in Toronto, focusing on ongoing venue sustainability and potential revenue growth.

This panel will explore traditional spaces and business models, while a later session will focus on the challenges facing DIY spaces.

In 2016, Toronto City Council unanimously approved TMAC’s Toronto Music Strategy, which aims to guide the short and long-term growth of Toronto’s music sector. Following a public consultation, the music strategy identified six major strategic areas for TMAC and the City of Toronto to focus on for supporting and growing Toronto’s music sector, with many of the key principles from the report expected to be discussed at the November 13 event.

The live music industry forum will run from 4-6pm at Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St. W), and is open to all live music industry professionals, venue owners and operators, musicians, agents, touring professionals, city councillors and officials. If you are interested in attending the discussion, you can RSVP through the Facebook event or by e-mailing info@lula.ca.

 

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Toronto’s influence on Canadian music celebrated with Fall concert series

From Queen West to Little Jamaica, the unique sounds of Toronto’s music history are being showcased with a free concert series this Fall. MomenTO: Sounds Like Toronto celebrates Toronto’s influence on Canadian music, and is produced by the City of Toronto in partnership with the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario’s Ontario 150 Program.

The series kicked off on October 18 with two roots-rock nights; one at The Horseshoe, headlined by Whitney Rose, and the other at Hugh’s Room, featuring legendary singer/songwriter Sylvia Tyson. Curated by renowned music journalist and historian Nicholas Jennings, the remaining shows will span a wide range of genres including reggae, world, jazz, and hip hop. These shows can be viewed below. While tickets are free, some shows will sell out and unclaimed tickets will be released at the door the night of the shows.

Saturday, October 28, 2017 – Roots, Rock, Regg’Eh @ Sanfoka Restaurant (1653 Eglinton Ave W.)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 – Where Global Goes Local @ Lula Lounge (1285 Dundas St. W)

Friday, November 10, 2017 – Jazz Generations of Toronto  @ Walter Hall, Edward Johnson Building, University of Toronto (80 Queen’s Park)

Saturday, November 11, 2017 – Hip Hop House Party: From the T-dot to the Six @ BAND (Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue) (19 Brock Ave)

 

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City of Toronto seeking public input for new culture strategy

Photo credit: City of Toronto

The City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Division (EDC) is developing a new Divisional Strategy to establish priorities over the next five years (2018-2022). In order to develop a comprehensive strategy, the EDC is seeking the input of the public on emerging opportunities, challenges, and areas of focus as they relate to Toronto’s economic development and culture.

As a starting point, they have created a Conversation Guide that highlights key emerging economic and cultural trends and challenges facing Toronto and are asking our stakeholders for their input via an online survey or written submission.

“There is an opportunity to clearly define the public benefit to artistic and cultural events,” the EDC states in the Conversation Guide. “This lens will help evaluate how artists and cultural leaders can leverage technology to support growth and new firm formation within strategic sectors of the local economy. A focus on creativity can involve the Division thinking through the City’s role in funding and/or helping to develop creativity.”

The City’s previous strategies – 2011’s Creative Capital Gains: An Action Plan For Toronto and 2013’s Collaborating for Competitiveness: A Strategic Plan to Accelerate Economic Growth and Job Creation in Toronto – helped lead to the establishment of Music and Film Sector Development Teams, and the Toronto Music Strategy.

With the threat of venue closures still looming large over Toronto’s music scene, the EDC’s call for input for their new strategy is a welcomed opportunity for musicians, venue owners, and label owners to express their concerns to City staff.

In addition to the survey and written submissions, a series of public Town Hall consultations have also been scheduled for September. Written submissions will be accepted until October 2, 2017, and it is encouraged to register for the Town Hall meetings listed below:

Thursday September 14 (Register online)
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Assembly Hall, Performance Hall
1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive

Tuesday September 19 (Register online)
9:00 am – 11:00 am
North York Civic Centre, Burgundy Room
5100 Yonge Street

Saturday September 23 (Register online)
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Scarborough Civic Centre, Rotunda
150 Borough Drive

Wednesday September 27 (Register online)
9:00 – 11:00 am
Toronto Reference Library, Bram & Bluma Appel Salon
789 Yonge Street

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Polyphonic Ground seeks input on diversity in Toronto’s live music industry

On July 19, a new initiative called Polyphonic Ground was announced, with the aim of strengthening Toronto’s culturally-diverse music industry. The initiative is spearheaded by Small World Music, and is composed of 12 Toronto live music presenters: Ashkenaz Foundation, Batuki Music Society, Good Kind Productions, iNative, Link Music Lab, Lula Music & Arts Centre, MonstrARTity Creative Community, Music Africa, Revolutions Per Minute, Small World Music Society, Uma Nota Culture, and World Fiddle Day Toronto. The collective plans to foster engagement with a monthly collaborative concert series and diverse professional development programming.

In partnership with Music Ontario, City Hall Live, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) and Music Canada Live, Polyphonic Ground will be hosting a series of conversations about diversity in the live music industry. To inform these conversations, and ensure as many voices as possible are heard, Polyphonic Ground has launched an online survey.

The survey states:

The lack of gender and cultural diversity reflected by the larger Toronto music industry has been a hot topic of late. Ad hoc conversations around these issues have taken place at recent panels and forums focused on topics such as venue closures, noise bylaws, the media etc. However, there have been few opportunities to deal with these issues head on and explore how inequities can be addressed.

Have your say and help shape these important conversations. The survey closes Friday, August 11th at 5pm.

Complete Polyphonic Ground’s Diversity & Live Music Conversation Series Survey.

For more information on Polyphonic Ground, check out the press release and follow their Twitter and Facebook pages.

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YYZ Live performance series launches at Toronto Pearson International Airport

Toronto Mayor John Tory was on hand Tuesday morning for the launch of YYZ Live, a new daily concert series greeting international arrivals at Pearson International Airport’s Terminal 1. In celebration of Canada 150, the event will run from June 26 to September 15, with 150 performances by 75 emerging artists from Toronto’s music scene.

“The first exposure a lot of people have to Toronto and Canada is in this building,” said Mayor John Tory, echoing earlier remarks by Greater Toronto Airports Authority CEO Howard Eng. “I’m proud that, thanks to this program, the first exposure people have to our culture is through music played by Toronto artists.”

Pearson is Canada’s largest airport, seeing more than 44 million passengers travel through the airport in 2016. As identified in Music Canada’s The Mastering Of A Music City report, airports in cities like Austin, Melbourne, and Seattle have already successfully hosted music performances. In Seattle, the trial program generated USD$259,000 for the artists from wages, tips and merchandise. The program’s success guaranteed its continuation for another three years, and helped permit the opening of a Sub Pop record store in the airport.

“As an independent musician, I’ve traveled over 50,000 miles sharing my music with audiences from Nashville to the Netherlands, because as many Toronto musicians know, it’s often easier to build a fan base abroad and online than it is in a city as big and as diverse as ours,” said acclaimed indie soul artist AHI in a release, who concluded today’s launch event with a performance. “I appreciate that the City of Toronto is working to develop creative opportunities for live music to become an accessible part of the community, and I’ve been privileged to participate in several events where I can share my music and build my audience right here at home.”

Mayor Tory concluded his remarks by reinstating his commitment to the future success of music in Toronto, noting the success of its artists and the arts sector help the “soul of the city” and attract more talented people to Toronto. Mayor Tory and Councillor Josh Colle, Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, also acknowledged the efforts of Councillor John Filion, who was absent from Tuesday’s announcement, but instrumental in making YYZ Live a reality.

There will be two opportunities daily to catch the performances, with a 7pm show at the YYZ Live Stage (Terminal 1, International Arrivals), and an 8pm show at the YYZ Live Acoustic Stage (Terminal Link train platform). For artists interested in performing, applications are still being accepted by submitting this application to perform@toronto.ca.

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Universal Music Canada to open new office, recording studio, and live music venue in Downtown Toronto

It’s official; Universal Music Canada will move to downtown Toronto in 2018.

In an announcement Tuesday outside their future location at 80 Atlantic Ave., Universal Music Canada President and CEO Jeffrey Remedios revealed the company’s plans to move the from their North York office to the Toronto tech hub located in the city’s west end.

“80 Atlantic will be the next phase of the growth and evolution of our city’s music community as we build greater resources and support for artists, enabling them to fully refine their craft at home,” said Remedios outside the new location across from Lamport Stadium.

The new facility will be “so much more than a record label’s office,” as Remedios revealed plans for recording, live performance, content creation, and fan-focused spaces, which will be open to independent artists.

Toronto Mayor John Tory was also on hand for the announcement, praising Universal’s move, Remedios’ initiative, and the impact this will have on Toronto’s music scene.

“Universal is on the edge of innovation and digitization that continues to transform music and every aspect of our lives,” said Tory. “This is the kind of creativity and innovation that I want to see in every corner of Toronto.”

“Musicians attract other musicians,” Tory added, “and that is good for the soul of the city.”

The afternoon announcement featured a performance by Universal recording artists The Beaches, named after their east-end Toronto neighbourhood. The full announcement was live-streamed by Universal Music Canada, and is available to watch below.

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Government of Canada to provide $8.3 million in funding towards Massey Hall revitalization

Left to right: The Honourable Melanie Joly, Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet (Whitehorse), Jim Cuddy, Deane Cameron, Adam Vaughan

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, was in Toronto Friday to announce The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall as a recipient of the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The Government of Canada will provide $8,330,000 to assist with the revitalization of the legendary Massey Hall, which will improve its accessibility, technical infrastructure and presentation environment.

“We are thrilled that the Government of Canada is investing in Massey Hall’s future through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund,” said Deane Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall. “This funding will help set the stage for the completion of the Massey Hall Revitalization Project to ensure that Massey Hall remains a home to showcase and cultivate our future leaders in arts, culture and beyond.”

A rendering of the completed Massey Hall exterior revitalization (photo: Cicada Design for Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects)

The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund launched in 2001 and receives an average of 137 applications each year. As of March 31, 2016, the fund has invested approximately $410 million in 1,381 projects in every province and territory.

“Investing in Canada’s cultural sector helps create jobs for the middle class, strengthens the economy, and ensures that Canada’s unique perspective is shared with the world,” said Minister Joly.

Also in attendance at the announcement was Spadina-Fort York MP Adam Vaughan, and musician Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, who spoke to his experiences playing the infamous stage and the impact the venue has had on the City of Toronto. Joly also spoke to the venue’s presence in Toronto during her address, deeming it a “right of passage” for musicians from all over the world who grace its stage. Toronto-based duo Whitehorse closed out the event with a captivating performance.

Massey Hall opened in 1894, and the last major renovation occurred in occurred in 1948. Phase 2 planning of the revitalization is underway, and construction is set to complete in 2021.

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Toronto’s music community discusses building a Music City in NOW Magazine cover story

nowtorontomusiccity

NOW Magazine’s October 13, 2016 cover, featuring Alaska B. of Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.

Last week, NOW Magazine’s cover story, entitled “Dreaming of Music City,” featured interviews with ten members of Toronto’s local music community including artists, promoters, producers, record label owners, and music festival operators. They were asked about their experiences and the challenges they see for Toronto in becoming a world-renowned Music City.

The article highlights several important issues, including: the safety of musicians (and audiences) who belong to marginalized groups, affordable housing for musicians and artists, music industry-community collaboration, and music venue accessibility. Government funding, entertainment districts, and the use of public space for music are also discussed as policies for the city’s consideration.

Since the release of The Mastering of a Music City report in Summer 2015—a report which serves as a roadmap for cities seeking to grow their music communities and become Music Cities with vibrant, actively promoted music economies—Music Canada has travelled to music events and policy conferences around the world to share Music City best practices and strategies.

Our report touched on some of the issues presented in the recent NOW Magazine article, but a lot has happened in Music Cities development in the last year that may inspire solutions to many of the concerns expressed by Toronto’s music community:

  • Affordable housing and the threat of gentrification are issues for artists in most major cities. A few years ago, Nashville, Tennessee recognized this and the City collaborated with the Music City Music Council and members of the arts community to create an arts-focused affordable apartment residence called Ryman Lofts. The residence offers affordable housing in the city specifically for artists.
  • The city of Aarhus, Denmark has Music City aspirations. MONO, an organization for active rhythmic musicians in the city, operates a professional development and gathering space where artists can rent rehearsal facilities, a concert venue, attend workshops, record music, store their music gear, and network with others in the community. MONO has 40 rooms and is used by over 120 bands.
  • In Fort Collins, Colorado, private investment from the Bohemian Foundation and community organization led to the creation of The Music District. The Music District is a collection of five buildings which have been (and are still in the process of being) converted into a music hub. Artists can reserve or rent rehearsal spaces, attend music workshops, rent and service equipment, and practice their performances all within the facility.
  • Bogota, Columbia is a leader in using music to activate parks and public spaces. The city’s al Parque festivals are supported by the Ministry of Culture and various arts organizations. Throughout the city, throughout the year, and all for free, Bogota draws hundreds of thousands of music fans to its public parks where local, national, and international artists of all genres play for massive audiences.

It is important to recognize, as the authors of the NOW Magazine article do, the progress that the City of Toronto has made towards its Music City goals: the signing and meeting of the Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance, the creation of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, council’s adoption of the Toronto Music Strategy. The experiences and perspectives of the music community are critical to the growth of the Music City project, and this kind of discussion is an important part of the process.

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