Warning! This post may get ranty, so you may want to stop reading now. You’ve been warned…
Back in January and February, I wrote about meeting with city politicians regarding the stated aims of making Toronto a “Music City“. While the meeting seemed to bode well, time has passed and the follow-through has finally caught up with my expectations at the outset: all of this is a well-intentioned but ultimately vaporous bit of political PR.
When you look back and connect the dots, the pattern emerges:
- a mayor who declares he wishes for Toronto to be Music City North but has so little understanding he believes the music scene is healthier today
- window-dressing events like YYZ Live that have been referred to as “Spinal Tap” moments by local players who have performed at them
- a bloated and promoter-heavy advisory council (TMAC) that is so uninvested it could not even achieve quorum at its last meeting, and the next meeting scheduled for April 23 still has no agenda published
- significant portions of the budget (when there was one) spent on junkets and high-visibility but low impact promotions
- political “leadership” on this council that lacks the understanding and commitment to this issues: the chair Josh Colle is also chairing the TTC (how much time can he really invest in the Music City initiative?), and Mary-Margaret McMahon who has already declared she will not run again
All together, these indicate that this is a “wouldn’t it be nice” initiative, but once it became evident that a few bands in Nathan Philips Square and and the airport do not a Music City make, a lot of appetite for the real work of solving Toronto’s music infrastructure problems seems to have been lost. It’s not that even TMAC was unaware of the issues; going through their material, it’s clear those concerns were identified (small venue solvency, “noise” regulations, music taken for granted as “free”), but these are difficult problems to solve and no one on the political level appears to have the vision, time or energy to take it on meaningfully. And perhaps that is not a reasonable thing to ask of our politicians. If so, then the vacuous pronouncements should stop, and the advisory council folded as it does not have the confidence or represent the interests of grassroots club musicians who are ultimately the foundation of the musical community. I get the sense this is where things are headed anyway, as neither councillor is responding to follow-up emails about the issues Rob Greenway and I raised at our February meeting, and the anemic attendance at the TMAC meetings.
This is likely a problem musicians will have to solve for themselves, hopefully.