In light of growing concern around the health, sustainability, and future of Toronto’s live music venues, Music Canada Live is convening a Regional Advisory Council (RAC) to examine challenges facing Toronto’s venue community. Live music venues not only represent a critical aspect of Toronto’s cultural and economic small business ecology, but are key stakeholders in ensuring Toronto continues to grow its reputation as one of the most engaging and creative cities in the world.
Current regulatory, legislative, and policy frameworks place live music venues at a distinct competitive disadvantage, disproportionate to the significant economic, social and culture currency venues generate for their communities. They do not adequately reflect their unique value proposition, nor their impacts on tourism, quality of life, city planning and urban development. “Independent venues represent a diverse sector whose constituents play a vital role in the ecology of both the music industry and broader cultural sector; with positive impact on businesses, communities and economies – both local and national.” (Music Venues Trust, 2015)
RAC’s have been successfully implemented in several other Canadian cities and have proved an effective mechanism by which local live music industry stakeholders can influence positive change within municipal governments and other agencies, including lobbying for reviews of licensing and regulations. In rapidly gentrifying neighbourhoods, live music venues are extremely vulnerable. By examining and leveraging other global best practices there can and should be proactive and protective policies in place.
Mark Garner (Chief Operating Officer & Executive Director of the Downtown Yonge BIA) will co-chair the RAC with Shaun Bowring (The Garrison, The Baby G, Transmit Presents, Little Portugal BIA) and Music Canada Live Board member Tracy Jenkins (Co-Artistic Director, Lula Music and Arts Centre / Lula Lounge). Music Canada Live will focus on advocacy and information gathering and sharing as its first priorities, soliciting input and feedback from the community. RAC participation will be open to all Toronto clubs, venues and stakeholders whose core business is live music. Membership in Music Canada Live is welcome, but not required.
“The disturbing trend of venue closures is an urgent call to action,” said Music Canada Live Executive Director Erin Benjamin. “Its essential that the industry come together and work with cities and provinces to ask the hard questions, now. When you lose a venue, you lose part of the character and quality of a community. What makes a great neighbourhood? We need action to stem the loss of the creative people, spaces and places that help to define who we are. The entire Canadian venue ecosystem will benefit from this work” Benjamin continues, “it doesn’t stop here, but Toronto can lead the way – and at this moment in Canada’s live music history, leadership is imperative.”