‘We’ve got to keep bringing the city back to life:’ Toronto launches new live music initiative for patios

TORONTO — Live music will soon be coming to patios in select Toronto neighbourhoods as part of a pilot project aimed at bringing vibrancy back to main streets while supporting two industries that have struggled throughout the pandemic.

Mayor John Tory held a news conference outside a Danforth Avenue patio on Thursday afternoon to highlight the new initiative, which was actually approved by city council during their June meeting.

As part of the program, bars and restaurants with temporary CaféTO patios in three Toronto wards – Beaches East York, Toronto-Danforth and Davenport – will be permitted to have live, amplified music during select hours from now until Oct. 31.

The city is also offering $100,000 grants to Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in the wards to help them promote the program and stage music programming in some small parks to further animate the neighbourhoods.

“We’re hard at the battle to finish COVID-19 off once and for all and that really does involve you getting fully vaccinated but in the meantime we’ve got to keep bringing the city back to life and keep giving opportunities to people who really struggled during the pandemic and that’s what this program is all about,” Tory said.

“Live music on patios is going to bring energy, it’s going to bring vitality, but to be frank most of all it is going to bring some paid work to people who really deserve it.”

Patios at bars and restaurants across the city reopened on June 11 once Ontario entered step one of its reopening plan.

The launch of the new pilot project comes as the city rolls out several initiatives to support bars and restaurants that struggled during Ontario’s successive lockdowns, including a new prix fixe promotion called “DineTOgether.”

Tory said that as part of the new live music initiative bars and restaurants who want to book mucisians can receive advice on logistics through the city’s music office.

He said that the office can also help to put bars and restaurants who have not previously hosted live music in touch with performers.

“Anybody who says there aren’t any musicians around to perform that’s not a good excuse. We’ve got a database with 1,000 Toronto artists on it who would happily come out and perform, many of them probably on a moment’s notice,” he said.

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