TORONTO – ENTERTAINMENT – Toronto is preparing for a new and virtual City Hall Live.
Toronto, in partnership with Unison Benevolent Fund and Happin, is re-launching City Hall Live Spotlight (CHLS), 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 food and settling in for a concert in the comfort of their home.
CHLS was originally scheduled to launch in January but was postponed due to the Province-wide shutdown that prohibited the livestreaming or filming of performances. It is now permitted with the City in the grey zone of the Province’s reopening framework.
The series 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.
CHLS kicks off March 18 at 7:30 pm EDT online from the Phoenix Concert Theatre and is scheduled to run weekly through June 2021. 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.
Subsequent bills will feature two performances. Confirmed shows include:
• March 25, 7:30 p.m. Little Magic Sam at the Dakota Tavern
• March 25, 8 p.m. Shakura S’Aida at the Linsmore Tavern
• April 1, 7:30 p.m. Myles Castello at Coalition Music
• April 1, 8 p.m. Shan Vincent de Paul at Drake Underground
• April 8, 7:30 p.m. Azalyne at Poetry Jazz Café
• April 8, 8 p.m. Joanna Majoko at Hirut
• April 15, 7:30 p.m. Aysanabee at Rockpile West
• April 15, 8 p.m. Tallies at Adelaide Hall
Performances will be available on the City website at https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/festivals-events/showloveto/city-hall-live-spotlight/ and on Happin 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 can choose to make a donation and 100 per cent of donations will support the Unison Benevolent Fund’s vital work to help musicians and music industry workers in crisis.
To support Toronto’s restaurant industry, which has similarly been impacted by the pandemic, viewers are also encouraged to order dinner from their favourite local restaurant at https://www.togotoronto.com/, a free online listing of restaurants offering safe takeout and delivery by Destination Toronto in partnership with the City.
The music can continue with Soundtracks of the City, a series of 25 City-created playlists. Each playlist showcases artists who have called Toronto home, from global superstars to local favourites and ones to watch. The playlists reflect Toronto’s neighborhoods and diverse music scenes and feature 425 songs in 23 different languages from more than 500 local artists and acts. By signing up for a free Spotify account, residents can access the playlists at https://open.spotify.com/user/ukdstajh8kegxo1rzgqpsdm5n?si=kuMpiVlvTl-gjRyrNAkjoQ.
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.
CHLS is 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 https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/festivals-events/showloveto/.
Toronto-based musicians can apply for CHLS and other City of Toronto Music Office programs at https://www.toronto.ca/business-economy/industry-sector-support/music/.