The Martin Prosperity Institute and NOW magazine have been studying the plight of TORONTO musicians who can’t afford to live and work in their own city. 80% of Canada’s music industry is based in T.O., from the core to inner city neighbourhoods in the west, along the Danforth, parts of East York and in the Beach.
Local performance venues, recording studios, rehearsal spaces, and the music scene in general is clustered in these neighbourhoods of very expensive real estate, high rents, aggressive developers and residents who don’t like sharing turf with loud music.
What to do? Rather than move to the suburbs, some musicians are moving to HAMILTON (pop. 520,000; metro 721,000). They’re not gutting the TORONTO scene, but according to NOW “the creative brain drain is real. TORONTO could see a substantial shuttering of venues similar to the situation in LONDON UK, where an estimated 40-50% of live music spaces have closed in the past decade.”
<Downtown Hamilton in the 1960’s – photo Hamilton Spectator>
Back in the sixties Downtown Hamilton was a going concern with several large movie theatres,, electric buses, blocks of turn-of-the-century architecture, small shops, bars, restaurants and a nightlife. Then came the wrecker’s ball and a large swath of downtown disappeared, replaced by vast parking lots, a shopping centre, one live theatre, a library & the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Now the city centre is on its way back – thanks, in no small part to artists, musicians, gallery owners, restaurateurs and others who’ve gone down the road from boomtown TORONTO, 40 miles to the northeast.
For a really good look at HAMILTON and what’s happening there, check out the “Rebuild Hamilton” website at http://www.rebuildhamilton.com