Iconic Downtown Building Repurposed to Accelerate London, Ontario’s Music Sector

The Manuel family, owners of London Music Hall, Rum Runners, and Saddle Up Country Bar and Eatery have purchased 182 Dundas Street with a vision to create a dynamic environment dedicated to help accelerate Londons commercial music sector.

The working name of the project, The London Music Division is proposed to create a collective centralized resource for the commercial music sector.  Included in the vision is to develop a Music Incubator, London Music Hall of Fame with media, industry reception and showcase space.  The London Music Division also eventually could house a future Music Office.

The music incubator is a new model for creative business development. It would bring together under one roof all the tools commercial artists and entrepreneurs require to pursue a career in music. Other well-established music incubators, such as Coalition Music in Toronto, offer programs that run 10 weeks and focus on artistry, technical development, and entrepreneurship. Incubators also offer workshops, host networking functions and other educational initiatives.

“This is good news for London and another example of how our collective vision for our downtown is coming to life,” said Mayor Matt Brown.  “The music industry is important to our local economy and it’s great to see so many partners coming together to support our local talent.  Initiatives like this one will help transform London into a music city.”

This announcement comes just as Music Canada released a new study, The Mastering of a Music City, which outlines how communities of all sizes can realize the full potential of their music economy. The report highlights the importance of music-friendly policies, music offices, music advisory boards, engaging the broader music community, increasing access to spaces and places, audience development, and music tourism.

“A strong commercial music sector generates a wide array of benefits, from economic growth, job creation, music tourism and cultural development,” said Chris Campbell, Director of Culture and Entertainment at Tourism London. “Our vision is to organically develop and promote London as a music city in collaboration with partners and to engage the music community in the process,” he added. 

“A vibrant music economy drives value in cities through job creation, city brand building and artistic development” said Andrea Halwa, Executive Director, London Arts Council. “Access to a full range of venues and a network of people is essential to furthering growth in London’s music industry”.

“I believe that music and entertainment play an integral roll in our downtown. You see it all the time when there’s an event at Budweiser Gardens, London Music Hall, The Grand Theatre or any great venue downtown. You see that music and entertainment have a positive effect on our community and that ultimately ripples into our downtown businesses,” said Mike Manuel.

The iconic building at 182 Dundas Street has been home to Nash Jewellers for almost a century. Nash Jewellers will continue to operate in the present location until mid-2016,at which time the downtown and north-end stores will merge at a new location at the corner of Oxford Street West and Wonderland Road.

“We would like to thank the Nash family for all of their contributions to the downtown,” said Janette MacDonald, CEO and General Manager of Downtown London. “Along with a few other longstanding family businesses, Nash Jewellers helped sustain downtown through tough years. Their presence will be missed, but we are also looking forward to this very exciting new addition to Dundas Street. A music division like this will retain talent, promote London, and compliment local arts and culture.”

Under the leadership of four generations of the Nash family, Nash Jewellers has grown to be one of London’s most well respected and recognizable establishments.

“This is an opportunity to help convert the downtown location into a vibrant, exciting, tourist destination,” said Colin Nash of Nash Jewellers. “We wouldn’t leave unless we had a great purchaser of the building.”

For the Nash family, the move is another story they look forward to sharing on the business’ 100th Anniversary in 2018. “There is a lot of emotion behind this decision and it is a decision that was made slowly with great consideration,” said Colin Nash. “Mike’s new project, along with the talk of a flexible Dundas Street and rapid transit, is something that can only benefit the city as a whole. Great things are happening.”

In collaboration with Tourism London and the London Arts Council, the City of London will be posting on the City’s website www.london.ca under its City Hall Employment Careers pages for the hiring of a two year Music Industry Development Officer position in the coming weeks to further accelerate the implementation pilot project of London’s Music Strategy.  The London Music Strategy, available online at http://prosperityforlondon.ca/, was developed by London’s Music Industry Development Task Force in 2014.  It forms part of the implementation of London’s Cultural Prosperity Plan, which will foster a strong economy and vibrant and diverse community.