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, as part of ShowLoveTO, 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 takeout and settling in for a concert in the comfort of their own home.
City Hall Live Spotlight will feature professionally produced livestreamed videos of Toronto musicians performing at shuttered music venues and 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 at 7:30 p.m. online, livestreamed from the Phoenix Concert Theatre 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.
Performances will be available at https://www.facebook.com/CityHallLiveSpotlight and on HappinApp at https://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.
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 help support Toronto's restaurant industry, which has similarly been impacted by the pandemic, City Hall Live 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.
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 at https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/9846-Re-Venues-FINAL-REPORT.pdf.
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.
Toronto-based musicians can apply for City Hall Live Spotlight and other City of Toronto Music Office programs at http://www.toronto.ca/music.
"Music is a universal language that can be enjoyed by all. During a time in which we need to support homegrown talent and our music industry, we are giving people an opportunity to experience music from the comfort of their own home. The new City Hall Live Spotlight series will not only help lift spirits but will encourage us all to keep supporting our hard hit music industry which is a vital component of our economy and will come back strong when the pandemic is over."
- Mayor John Tory
"Whether it is tax relief for live music venues or paid performance opportunities for Toronto musicians, we must continue to find new ways to support Toronto's music industry. Our night economy depends on it and we must act now to ensure that we have something to return to when the pandemic is over."
- Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development and Culture committee and member of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for paid performances have been few and far between for Toronto musicians and music industry businesses. Like many Toronto businesses and residents, it is critical for us to support this industry now so that it has a future."
- Councillor Brad Bradford (Beaches-East York), Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee
"We are so excited and incredibly proud to once again partner with the City of Toronto for the City Hall Live Spotlight series. Not only will the series continue to support and promote local, emerging musicians through the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also continue to raise valuable funding that will ensure Canadian music-makers and their families have access to life-changing counselling services and emergency financial assistance under these complicated circumstances."
- Amanda Power, Executive Director at Unison Benevolent Fund