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How much of a priority is Toronto City Council’s Music Industry Advisory Council to its 36 members?
Not much of one based on what happened —or rather what didn’t happen— at the Wednesday, February 7 meeting of the body, comprised of six city councillors and 31 “representatives” of the local music industry.
According to the city’s official meetings reporting website, there were not enough members present at the meeting at City Hall to actually hold an official meeting, so the gathering proceeded “on an informal” basis.
That means, regardless of what took place, that no decisions of any kind were made that would have any real impact or weight on anything.
Among the items scheduled were reports from the “lead” members of three working groups within the council on three topics:
– Venue Protection and Sustainability;
– Community Outreach;
– City Partnerships.
Spencer Sutherland, the council’s co-chair (along with Councillor Josh Cole) was also scheduled to provide an update on the work planned with Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) on “researching opportunities in developing Toronto’s night-time economy.” In addition, staff from the city’s Economic Development and Culture department were to “provide an update on consultation with the music and nightlife communities on shaping Toronto’s night-time economy.”
There were also scheduled presentations by staff in the city’s Economic Development and Culture, Film and Entertainment Industries section to provide updates on ongoing music-focused work such as improving public safety at entertainment events.
A representative of Live Nation concert promoters was also scheduled to provide information on the progress of the new live music venue on Queen Street East at the site of the former Greenwood Race Track.
The council was established four years ago, in February 2014, with a mandate to:
♪ Provide recommendations and advice to enhance the attractiveness, competitiveness, and growth of Toronto’s music industry;
♪ Be a forum for the music industry and provide coherent advice to City Council on issues and opportunities for the sector; and
♪ Promote Toronto’s music industry and monitor and advise on marketing strategies to strengthen the viability of the music sector.
It was originally expected to be a 33-member body comprised of three members of City Council plus a representative each of the Toronto Association of Business Associations and Tourism Toronto plus one “independent performing artist” and 27 “music industry stakeholders” representing venues, festivals, studios, labels, management, unions, publishers, marketers, stores and others who make money off of musicians’ interests and talents. It now has 36 members, including three additional city councillors.
(It would appear that Reggae/Soul singer Jay Douglas is the “independent performing artist” representative, which would naturally follow from his role in helping to create the council by, as we reported at the time, appearing in the Council Chambers in December of 2013 to advocate on behalf of establishing it following an announcement that October that the city had signed a “Music City Alliance Agreement” with Austin, Texas. His impromptu live music performance got council members up dancing with him, including then-mayor the late Rob Ford and speaker Frances Nunziata —who seldom saw eye-to-eye on anything.)
Yesterday’s lack of attendance at the MIAC meeting was far from the first failure to launch by the city’s various industry-based music promotion bodies, whom I have referred to as “musi-crats” in the past. As we reported in March of 2014, the Alliance agreement and the apparently deservedly defunct absurdly named “4479 Toronto” marketing campaign of the time set up by industry group Music Canada to “brand Toronto music city,” completely missed the boat when it came to promoting the city’s talent at the South By Southwest festival in Austin. And I have seen no evidence the city’s profile has improved there since.
Yet meanwhile, as MIAC members get reimbursed for “expenses” when they do deign to attend meetings, the city ignores the accomplishments of genuine grass roots promoters of independent artists who are actually getting people out to shows: people such as Pete Otis of SongTown, Jeannie Reid of Music City North and Brian Gladstone’s Winterfolk festival.
Here is a list of the full membership of the MIAC with embedded links to the official city web pages of those who are members of City Council. Names of the 13 members who showed up at the meeting are in bold.
Mary An Blom
Christin Carmichael Greb
Josh Colle (Chair)
Jay Douglas (who appears to be the token “independent performing artist”)
Derek “drex” Jancar