Bentley using music to boost economy
By Kollin Lore
An emphasis on the music industry, spearheaded by London-West MPP Chris Bentley, may lead to a boost in London’s economy.
“Economies throughout North America, even the world, that are thriving [and] positioning themselves for the jobs of the future are invariably ones which have a thriving arts [and] music culture,” said Bentley.
Graham Henderson, president of Music Canada, emphasized in a speech at the London Music Club last week that the city could become more like “the live music capital of the world.”
“Austin, Texas, is a place that a decade ago really didn’t have much of an industry,” said Bentley. “They developed a strategic plan, nurtured the industry, grew it so that it’ s now responsible for tens of millions of dollars of revenue in taxes to the city, thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in economic spin-off.”
Bentley said the following steps should include an inventory analysis – noting who and what is in the city – and networking events supporting the music industry, along with marketing.
According to Amy Terril, vice-president of public affairs for Music Canada, “the recording industry in Canada is worth $400 million, and 81 per cent of that is happening in Ontario.”
London is just a cluster in this hot pot.
Ted Peacock, Secretary Treasurer for the London Music Association, said the city’s biggest need is working with the existing infrastructure in the city, including improving smaller and mid-sized venues, which could in turn, help attract tourists.
“People travel all over North America to good music festivals,” said Peacock. “We have a number in Ontario, the question is – can there be even more?”
Real estate is another benefit from an increased emphasis on the music industry, as people are naturally drawn to live in or near artistic communities.
One city in Canada, which has seen a boost in its economy due to a shift to a music driven culture, is Halifax.
Scott Long is the executive director of the Halifax Music Association.
“Neighbourhoods with high levels of cultural assets are more likely to experience improvement in real estate markets, where groups of creative people live,” said Long.
According to Terril, there are 2600 jobs in independent and major labels in Ontario alone, not including artists, musicians, retail and the live industry.
A push for a more music-driven culture can improve an economy on different levels, and work will be underway in London to add to the provinces thriving music culture.
“There are two networking events we are setting up right now,” said Bentley. “This is rolling – this is not just a thought, and gosh, who knows, before you know it we may be bigger than Toronto.”