Today, Mayor Tory announced that the City of Toronto, in partnership with Unison Benevolent Fund, is launching City Hall Live Spotlight, a weekly livestreamed concert series to support the local music industry and provide Toronto residents with music experiences at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are encouraged to make a night of it by ordering in their favourite food and settling in for a concert in the comfort of their home.
City Hall Live Spotlight will feature professionally produced livestreamed videos of Toronto musicians performing at shuttered music venuesand other affected music-related businesses around the city. Each performance will be accompanied by a brief introduction to the location and its role in Toronto’s music industry.
City Hall Live Spotlight kicks off on January 14 from the Phoenix Concert Theatre at 7:30 p.m. at Happin.App and is scheduled to run weekly through the spring. The first performance of the series will feature Colombian-Canadian artist Lido Pimienta, a Grammy Award nominee for her 2020 album Miss Colombia and winner of the 2017 Polaris Music Prize for her album La Papessa.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant economic impact on Toronto residents and businesses, including the music industry. During each City Hall Live Spotlight performance, viewers who are able to can choose to make a donation, 100 per cent of which will support the Unison Benevolent Fund’s vital work to help musicians and music industry workers in crisis.
To support Toronto’s restaurant industry, which has similarly been impacted by the pandemic, viewers are also encouraged to order dinner from their favourite local restaurant at http://www.ToGoToronto.com, a free online listing of restaurants offering safe takeout and delivery by Destination Toronto in partnership with the City.
City Hall Live Spotlight will also be available on Happin.app, a new Toronto-based livestreaming platform that enhances the music concert fan experience and improves revenue streams for artists. Backline for City Hall Live Spotlight has been provided by Yamaha Canada.
Confirmed shows include:
January 14 – Lido Pimienta Live from The Phoenix Concert Theatre
January 21 – Little Magic Sam Live from The Dakota Tavern
January 28 – Vi Live from Hole in the Wall
February 4 – Azalyne Live from Poetry Jazz Cafe
February 11 – Goodbye Honolulu Live from The Garrison
Since 2016, local artists have performed on Nathan Phillips Square as part of City Hall Live’s music series. The series provides paid performance opportunities for Toronto musicians across all genres and works with numerous Toronto music organizations, festivals and events to curate the schedule. At the beginning of the pandemic, City Hall Live moved online from April to July and featured 120 performances by local artists, livestreamed from their homes. All told, City Hall Live has showcased more than 335 local acts and partnered with over 81 local organizations.
In recognition of the ongoing financial challenges facing live music venues, in 2020 the City introduced a tax relief program to support this essential part of Toronto’s music ecosystem. Forty-eight establishments received a combined $1.7 million in property tax relief last year as a result of the City’s expansion of the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclass. Last October, City Council made this important program permanent.
That same month, the City and the Canadian Live Music Association, in partnership with Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area and Ontario Creates, released the results of a Toronto venues study called Re:Venues: A Case and Path Forward for Toronto’s Live Music Industry. Among other findings, the study confirmed that the total economic impact of Toronto live music venues is $850 million annually, providing the equivalent of 10,500 full-time jobs. The study is available here.
City Hall Live Spotlight is a part of the City’s ShowLoveTO initiative, launched in association with Founding Sponsor American Express and in partnership with Destination Toronto, to help Toronto businesses, neighbourhoods and residents safely recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about ShowLoveTO programs is available at http://www.toronto.ca/showloveto.