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March 23, 2015

City of Toronto to host Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance summit to help create jobs and drive economic development
  
Mayor John Tory, Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development Committee and Co-Chair of the City's Toronto Music Advisory Council, and Councillor Josh Colle (Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence), announced today after a successful business mission in Austin, Texas that the City of Toronto will host a summit with business and key music industry stakeholders from Toronto and Austin this fall.

"The table stakes for economic development in cities like Toronto and Austin is the ability to compete successfully for talent,” said Mayor Tory. “I have been to Austin and I have seen how creative sectors like music, film and technology drive economic growth, job creation, investment and tourism – and help attract and retain young talent. If we’re going to bring more jobs, and attract and keep world class talent in Toronto, we need to focus on promoting and growing our creative sectors and this summit will be critical to that process.”

In addition to announcing the summit at the conclusion of the business mission, Mayor Tory committed to the following next steps:
• Strengthen the City's Entertainment Industries Office to assist in putting music on a growth path similar to that of film.
• Identify opportunities to innovate with the private sector to support the local music industry. One such opportunity to be explored is the initiation/expansion of an interactive conference similar to the SXSW Interactive Festival.
• Promote Toronto as a music tourism destination.
• Conduct a thorough review of existing City bylaws, regulations and permitting policies to remove red tape and encourage the growth of the city’s music industry while supporting its musicians.

The business mission also included a renewed commitment to the Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance together with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and meetings with representatives in the music and technology sector from companies such as AMD, Google, IBM, the Austin Technology Incubator and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Tory and the mission members also attended events at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW).

On the mission, Mayor Tory was accompanied by Toronto music industry representatives Jeff Cohen, owner of Collective Concerts and Toronto music venues the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee's Palace; Sari Delmar, CEO and founder of Audio Blood; Graham Henderson, President, Music Canada; and Jesse Kumagai, Vice President of Talent, Live Nation.

Those representatives, who have been part of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, were selected last fall to represent Toronto on the City's Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance. The Mayor, Councillors and the Alliance representatives held a lengthy meeting together last Thursday to chart next steps.

This alliance business mission expanded the City of Toronto's goal of positioning itself as a leading live music tourist destination and reinforced Toronto's influence in the technology industry. Toronto is the largest centre for technology businesses and research in Canada and has the third largest film production and technology sector in North America.

By learning from the best practices and experiences of Austin in its music and technology sectors, the City of Toronto can better support those respective industries in Toronto while in addition to enhancing economic and cultural development and job creation in the city.

A selection of quotes from Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance mission participants follows:

"The Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance achieved a new sense of vibrancy at this year’s SXSW. We have advanced the alliance from concept to reality with Toronto-focused showcases and networking events, and we have begun expanding its economic value by developing new relationships with firms and leaders in Austin's technology sector. There are many areas of mutual economic and cultural benefit available to both cities and our business mission in connection with the festival has broadened the possibilities for us to explore."
– Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development Committee and Co-Chair of the City's Toronto Music Advisory Council.

"As growing cities, Toronto and Austin face similar challenges and opportunities with respect to our thriving music industries and the need for investments in transit and housing. The enhanced partnership between Toronto and Austin will provide musicians and businesses access to new and larger markets and audiences."
– Councillor Josh Colle (Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence).

"As Toronto City Council looks to create both a music strategy and a more musician friendly city, Mayor Tory’s trip to SXSW will hopefully not only jump start a music industry trade alliance between us and Austin, but by examining their best practices, result in even more growth of our already Top five North American local live music."
– Jeff Cohen Owner, Collective Concerts, Horseshoe Tavern, Lee's Palace, TURF TO, VP Music Canada Live.

"There is much to be learned from an amazing event like SXSW and from the city of Austin. This trip has been a key opportunity for us to identify both immediate and larger picture plans of action. I'm glad Mayor Tory was able to experience the magic and music of Austin, which us industry folks have had the pleasure of experiencing year after year at SXSW. Alongside all the alliance members on both the Austin and Toronto side, we have used this trip as a great opportunity to set goals, deadlines, and establish a solid infrastructure for the alliance moving forward. The mayor has been receptive to our suggestions and urgency around some of the key issues Toronto is facing that stand between us embracing our inner music city. We look forward to helping assert positive change in the city of Toronto for the industry and artists that call it home."
– Sari Delmar, CEO and Founder of Audio Blood.

"Mayor Tory ran on a platform that specifically included music. This was an amazing first for Toronto. When he chose to make his first business mission about music, the Mayor not only demonstrated his belief in the importance of music to Toronto, but he also he sent a strong signal to Toronto's music community that he intended to make good on his promises. With today's announcement, ‎a critical step in the history of music in Toronto has been taken. Thank you, Mayor Tory, for your belief in the power of music and your vision of a brave new world for music in Toronto."
– Graham Henderson, President, Music Canada.

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit http://www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms

Media Contact
Shane Gerard
Strategic Communications
416-397-5711
sgerard@toronto.ca

Keerthana Kamalavasan
Office of the Mayor
647-460-7507
keerthana.kamalavasan@toronto.ca
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