The Downtown Yonge BIA today launched its Music Strategy – an ambitious, multi-pronged plan to re-establish the area as a ‘Music Mecca.’
The Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (DYBIA) is a catalyst for creating vibrant urban experiences and events in the heart of downtown Toronto. Representing more than 2,000 businesses and their employees, as well as the broader community of residents, students and visitors, the DYBIA champions attractive public spaces, popular events, safety and cleanliness. It plays an active role both at street level and in boardrooms, advocating for a thriving and diverse community of retailers, restaurants and services.
“Several generations fondly remember this part of the city as one of the world’s great music scenes, both for live performances at places like The Nickelodeon and Maple Leaf Gardens, and retail hubs like Sam the Record Man,” said Downtown Yonge BIA Executive Director Mark Garner. “It’s a great part of our past, and we want it to be a great part of our future.”
Garner noted that Downtown Yonge’s musical presence is not just historical. There are currently 14 live performance venues in the area – including Massey Hall, the Carlu, Yonge-Dundas Square and smaller performance spaces like the Church of the Holy Trinity in Trinity Park – totalling nearly 16,000 seats.
“Music is always in the air around here. It’s one of the largest and most diverse live music destinations in the city today,” Garner said. “With its extraordinary history and vibrant present, Downtown Yonge’s music future looks very bright.”
The Music Strategy includes a variety of initiatives the Downtown Yonge BIA is implementing and pursuing, in a cohesive vision for Yonge Street to once again take centre stage for Canada’s music industry. The strategy focuses on three major thrusts:
Homage to Toronto’s Music Legacy – through initiatives such as interactive walking tours featuring musicians’ stories about Yonge Street on a downloadable app; heritage plaques showing significant spaces and buildings; and a ‘neon museum’ featuring iconic signs (like the famous Sam the Record Man sign and recreations of Friar’s and The Blue Note signs) in laneways and public spaces.
Activating Live Music – not just in performance venues but also in public spaces through programs like Play the Parks, a series of lunchtime concerts and exercise programs during the summer. This year, the Downtown Yonge BIA will also present Monster Rock Orchestra – a light and sound spectacular – for the first time at Yonge-Dundas Square.
Paving the Way to Toronto’s Music Future – by creating a Music Incubator for emerging artists, providing studio space, mentorship, education, networking and collaboration.
Once implemented, the Downtown Yonge BIA hopes similar strategies will be replicated by other BIAs, helping to achieve the City’s vision for a thriving, vibrant music community.
“Music is dear to Torontonians. We are aiming to build on that love of music – culturally, socially and economically,” Garner said.