Council OKs new fund to boost music industry

Bronson Centre
The Bronson Centre is teaming up with the owners of a Toronto concert hall to modernize the building's performance centre.

The City of Ottawa is creating a new fund aimed at boosting the local music industry as part of a long-term plan that could eventually see city-owned space converted into a mid-sized performance venue.

Council gave the green light to the $25,000 Ottawa Music Development Fund on Wednesday. The fund, which will be launched this summer, will provide “support for the creation and expansion of projects that strengthen the music industry and ecosystem.”

The money is part of a three-year, $300,000 “music strategy” endorsed by city council last year. The plan is designed to cut red tape and fund advocacy groups in an effort to better promote local artists and the businesses that cater to them.

Council approved a number of other staff recommendations related to the second phase of the music strategy Wednesday. 

Among them was a pledge to continue pushing for a mid-sized downtown live music venue, which city staff consider to be a key ingredient in growing the local industry.

A staff report said the Bronson Centre’s plan to partner with a Toronto company to modernize and expand the venue’s performance theatre will “help to address Ottawa’s need” for such a facility. In addition, it said, “staff are aware of other private-sector plans for mid-sized venues which may come to fruition in the coming years.”

But the report also left the door open for the city to get directly involved in the process. If necessary, it said, staff will look at the feasibility of repurposing existing city space for a live music venue should the private sector’s efforts not bear fruit.

Council also agreed to provide $10,000 in funding to create an Ottawa-Gatineau Music Awards and Hall of Fame, with winners expected to be announced in December. The awards will be organized by the non-profit Ottawa Music Industry Coalition, a 200-member group of musicians and music workers that helps promote the industry.