Toronto’s Mayor Noticed That There’s a Music Venue Crisis in the City. Here’s What He Had to Say.

Toronto has ambitions of being a true music city, something that can’t be done unless musicians have places to play. But with a spate of recent closings (The Hoxton, Soybomb HQ), impending closings (The Silver Dollars) and near-death experiences (Hugh’s Room), it’s clear that there’s a crisis. The last thing Toronto wants is to end up like Vancouver which is suffering from an acute lack of music venues as development and real estate prices force places to close.

Mayor John Tory, a big music fan, has noticed. He released this joint statement with Josh Colle, the councillor who is Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Council.

Toronto’s music community lost a number of live venues in 2016, and sadly, that trend has continued during the first month of this year. We and many of our Council colleagues and the Toronto Music Advisory Council are very aware of these closures.

We share the disappointment of musicians, music fans, and the music community at these recent announcements. Most of all, we would like the music community to know that we take the matter extremely seriously and are actively taking steps to address it.

The Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council (TMAC) will discuss the issue of music venue closures at its next meeting on February 13, and will provide expert suggestions and recommendations to City Council about how the City can best support music venues now and in the future.

City of Toronto elected officials and staff have been constantly looking at strategies and actions that might be taken to help our music venues and the musicians and wider communities they support.

Some of the measures taken already include:
•             Council has passed a motion aimed at protecting live music venues
•             The City with the help of local Councillor Joe Cressy has taken steps to protect the Silver Dollar Room so it continues to be a music venue
•             Council has asked staff to focus on helping the city’s nighttime economy
•             Part of the TOCore planning study will look at how to create, maintain music spaces, including pop-up music spaces
•             Ongoing discussions with venue owners about how the City can help them succeed

Together with TMAC and other partners, the City is already considering a number of recommendations addressing music venue protection, pop-up venues, and the overall health of the nighttime economy. In doing so, we are continually studying how any success stories from other cities might work in Toronto – because the same difficulties our music sector is experiencing here are also being seen across the world in many other cities, including our music alliance partner city of Austin, Texas.

As TMAC and the City work toward creating a plan to address concerns, we welcome ideas from musicians, music venue owners, the music industry, and all others who care about this situation.

Please email your ideas and suggestions to [email protected] so that they can be presented to the TMAC membership for their consideration.

We recognize how important music venues and the communities they nurture are to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of Toronto – from long-standing institutions like Hugh’s Room, the Hoxton, and the Silver Dollar, to the DIY and alternative spaces so important to the artistic grassroots in our city.

Together with the Toronto Music Advisory Council, we are committed to a complete exploration of how to support our music venues. As we deeply miss those venues already lost, we are also hopeful that in 2017, bringing the City together with the music community to generate solutions will help Toronto turn a corner and make progress toward a healthier future for music venues and music in general.”

If you want to read the entire statement, go here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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