Black Music Professionals Get $2M Boost With New Slaight/TO Inititiative

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 the 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.

“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," Mayor Tory said. 

“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.”

Slaight Communications CEO Gary Slaight added that “one of the mandates of the Slaight Foundation is to support the creative arts in this country and, in doing so, help expand the vital Canadian entertainment industry, whether it be in front of the spotlight or behind boardroom doors. The Advance program will provide support for young black entrepreneurs in all aspects of the music industry: record labels, management companies, agencies, publicists, artists and producers. The Slaight Foundation is proud to help assist this necessary and beneficial Canadian initiative.”

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.

Advance Board member and music publishing executive Vivian Barclay offered her own words on this generous gift: “Advance is committed to leading the change for real, tangible reform in the music business landscape and infrastructure in corporate, private and government sectors. We look forward to partnering with Slaight Music and the City of Toronto to create pathways for learning, and opportunities for change and development for current and future Black talent and professionals in Canada.”

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 cooperation 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.

He added that the advancement of Black professionals in Canada’s music sector is an essential and long-overdue priority (and that) Universal Music Canada is proud to serve as an industry partner of this initiative. “We look forward to working alongside Advance and welcome others from across the Canadian music and corporate communities to join in supporting this important effort.”

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.

The Slaight Family Foundation was established in 2008 by John Allan Slaight. Allan Slaight is known as Canada’s broadcast pioneer, music leader and a prominent Canadian philanthropist. Through his generosity, the Foundation proactively supports charitable initiatives in the areas of healthcare, at-risk youth, international development, social services and culture.

Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses.

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