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Mayor John Tory announces $2m to support Black professionals in Toronto’s music industry

eAwaz Local News

Toronto – Today, Mayor John Tory announced a $2 million partnership between the City of Toronto, the Slaight Family Foundation and Advance, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective, to support the entry, retention and advancement of Black professionals in Toronto’s music industry.

Mayor Tory and Derrick Ross, President of Slaight Music, were joined at the Phoenix Concert Theatre for the announcement by Vivian Barclay, a Board member of Advance, Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development and Culture committee and member of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee, Jeffrey Remedios, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Canada and Lisa Zbitnew, co-owner of the Phoenix Concert Theatre.

The City and the Slaight Family Foundation are each committing $250,000 a year from 2020 to 2023 to support Black talent development in the music industry for a total commitment of $2 million over four years.

With support of Advance, the funds will go towards achieving tangible and sustainable change to address the under-representation of Black talent in Canada’s music industry.

While Black artists drive the success of Canada’s music industry, Black professionals are under-represented in management and executive roles. This situation has resulted from an under-investment in Black talent development, especially for senior leadership roles within the industry.

The partnership, funding and efforts being announced today represent significant, tangible steps towards addressing these issues and will support initiatives aligned with Advance’s four pillars of action: research, advocacy and government partnerships; mentorship and education; community outreach; as well as business development and entrepreneurship.

An advisory group, including representatives of the Slaight Family Foundation, Advance and the City, through the Toronto Music Advisory Committee (TMAC), will develop a range of initiatives during the four-year partnership, including the following immediate efforts:

Seed funding to support the establishment of Advance
Research to analyze and assess racial discrepancies in the business sector of the Canadian music industry
A mentorship and internship program with placements to begin in 2021
A pilot initiative to support Black managerial talent development in corporation with community training partners
Master classes on music industry career development
In his remarks, Jeffrey Remedios, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Canada, outlined his firm commitment to supporting the advancement of Black professionals in the music industry, including work with Advance and separate initiatives around internships and other supports.

To expand this initiative, additional partner organizations are being sought with an emphasis on industry partners that are able to make clear employment commitments, post-secondary institutions that are able to support research and data analysis, as well as targeted talent development initiatives.

This new partnership will be reviewed in 2022 to track results and efforts made through this funding commitment and aligns with the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Action Plan and the Toronto Music Strategy.

Residents can learn about what to expect and what is required as Toronto moves into the new normal and they begin to visit more establishments and take part in more activities at toronto.ca/ReopenTO.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.

“I am proud that our City will be partnering with the Slaight Family Foundation to provide critical funding to help support the advancement of Black professionals within our thriving music industry. This announcement represents significant and tangible steps towards real change that will help address an ongoing gap within our city’s music industry. I want to thank Slaight Family Foundation, Advance and Universal for partnering with us and for helping us provide opportunities for Black professionals in our city. The time to invest and create change is now as we work towards confronting and eradicating anti-Black racism within our city.” – Mayor John Tory

“Toronto’s rich history of Black music has enriched our city’s culture and helped create one of the world’s best music scenes. Thanks to musicians such as Drake and the Weeknd, Toronto’s global identity is inseparably linked with hip hop and R&B. Today’s announcement will help encourage and sustain the next wave of Black talent and leadership.`– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development and Culture committee and member of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee