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. They’ve done a great service this week by asking Toronto’s mayoral candidates their goals and ideas on how to strengthen the city’s music sector.

Their 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.

They 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.