Day 2 | Downtown Dynamism: Rebuilding Hospitality and Culture

Day 2 | Downtown Dynamism: Rebuilding Hospitality and Culture

Canada’s hospitality, culture and tourism sectors are completely connected to the dynamism of our downtowns. Locals and tourists come to ‘the city’ for experiences they can’t find anywhere else. These activities create jobs and generate millions in tax revenue for all levels of government. Months of lock-downs have left these key sectors of our economic and civic life in a precarious position. What actions are needed to support this industry and bring people back downtown?

Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:05] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe, I’m just reading the chat, which is a great idle pastime here, folks. If you haven’t had the chance to read these chats, I hope when we post the sessions you will because they’re fantastic and full of all sorts of interesting comments and perspectives, but also references. And so I see, for instance, that Panetta’s plugging the International Music City’s convention, which is being hosted in Alberta next week. Next month, that looks like right? And that she’ll be emceeing from Edmonton, day two. So she’s put a link in there. And then I’ll, put on a project that she’s working on. So, you know, we’re discouraging of people putting things in here that are self promotional, obviously. So you’ll notice if somebody puts a marketing thing in and we pull it out, but, you know, sort of marketing their business. But if you’ve got events or resources or things that you think the audience is interested in, by all means, throw them into the chat here. And as I said, then it gets captured and then they’ve got republished and as we go on further. But it’s really great to see the community organizing in this way. And it’s just, I think again, one of these perverse benefits of an extraordinary human tragedy, global tragedy is that we’ve just catapulted ourselves into a facility with these platforms, which is fantastic and which I hope we never lose. And all the more interesting for us to now have a panel about hospitality and tourism because I think tourism and culture are changing and the mediums that we use are changing. And I’ll be very interested to talk to these folks about that because they make their livelihoods about around people actually turning up somewhere and coming from somewhere else into Toronto or into Edmonton, or into Ottawa or Vancouver or wherever they’re coming through to experience something that they can experience by themselves. But also, you know, their big pivot. As we say, the term of COVID is pivot. One of the most significant pivots has been in the cultural sector as they have tried to find ways to express their creativity and bring that share that giftedness with us who are dependent on it to make us help us understand our lives and that we found new ways to do it. So it’s going to be so interesting, isn’t it, as we re-emerge and we get back into in-person things. How much of this collaborative, the digital platforming will resume, and I’ll be interested to talk to our panelists about that. So this is on tourism and culture and hospitality. And I I think the hospitality sector too has just had an extraordinary knock. It’s been referred to for those of you on the session today who have been here prior, there have been many, many people talking about what’s been happening to retail, what’s happening to restaurants, what’s happening to the workforce is how are we going to restore the level of economic viability for these, the purveyors of these products and services? And I also, I think of hospitality also in a more a warmer way that it’s part of how cities welcome everyone else. There are new comers who are welcomed through hospitality, visitors are welcome through hospitality. And then folks like me who lived in the city, we’re part of the hospitality sort of matrix. So it’s really an important topic. And how are we going to recover that. It’s also, I think, tied in with civility and how we’re going to get back to making room for each other and understanding that we’re different and that we have different priorities and different needs. And certainly the kinds of activities that your sector fosters brings you together with people that are not like you. And so I think about that. I think about the functions in our society that I don’t want to turn. I don’t want to be completely operational here in terms of the role of culture in terms of bringing us together. It has its own intrinsic value, but I also think about same with transit things that bring you in contact with people that aren’t like you and who don’t have the same life experience. And you have some kind of an enlivened experience by interacting with those folks in different kinds of ways. This is something we’ve lacked. And as we’ve been confined to barracks where we’ve been or our lives have been made small, even if they were still going out to work, our lives have been made small. So here we are going to welcome please, Beth Potter, Michael Rubinoff, Erin Benjamin and Tarun Nayar. Sorry, it’s probably Nayar, Tarun? How do you say your name? Was that close enough? 


Tarun Nayar [00:03:58] Correct. Correct. Yeah, Tarun, Nayar.


Mary Rowe [00:04:00] Nayar. Great, great. Glad to have you and glad to have you folks to help us piece our way through this. I was joking with my colleagues that we did a playlist Erin, I know you’ve been very appreciative of this. We did a playlist for the summit playlist and I just said to the gang we should have had, Welcome to The Rock as our leading into this session because Michael Rubinoff is with us and he’s the first, he was the first producer of Come From Away and it’s the great Canadian story of a cultural phenomenon that not only created a wonderful theatrical experience for people, but it also became an economic engine. And all of the things that we know is that has the potential for the sector. So Beth, I’m delighted to have you because you’re being the international piece to us about what’s the viability of these communities as tourism destinations? And what is going on in the industry? You’re going to tell us all about that. And Tarun, it’s really great to have you because you’re placed based and you’re actually engaged in production in place in a specific kind of context and how this has impacted you. So I might actually go to you first, if I could Tarun. You just tell us a little bit about who you are and what your experience has been through Covid. And then I’ll go around the room and you can get everybody else’s perspective. So why don’t you start? 


Tarun Nayar [00:05:11] Yeah. Thanks, Mary. So my name is Tarus Nayar and you can call me T. And I’ve been in the live music industry for my whole life, pretty much. I spent 15 years touring with my band, Delhi 2 Dublin, and I run a large South Asian festival. We have a huge South Asian population, as you may know, in Vancouver and Surrey. So I run a festival that used to do in the old days, 10,000 people to 15,000 people block party in June. Obviously, things have changed a lot now for the last couple of years, we haven’t been able to do that. I also run a record label, so I would say I’m heavily invested with with the South Asian scene. And yeah, I mean, it’s been absolutely heinous, as you can imagine. I think many folks in the music industry are kind of innately industrious and innovative just because of the nature of our work. It’s always been a little unstable and we tend to be risk takers. That said, even with all of the moves to, to move online and to do a sort of more innovation around that, and we’ve done a lot from doing shows in the metaverse and doing shows and video games and whatnot to just the basic live streaming. It’s still not the same and it’s not the same in terms of revenue, and it’s not the same in terms of the feeling that we get after we put on an event. So happy to share more later. Thanks.


Mary Rowe [00:06:30] Mm-Hmm. You know, I was in New Orleans after Katrina when the term resilient became the new term, you know, and if you guys can remember when we didn’t talk about resilience. So that’s when we started talking about it, it was in 2005. And a lot of people said, please stop calling us resilient because it was basically just another description of, well, you know, what else can you throw at us? So I think that’s part of the dilemma with the cultural sector is, you know, they’re just tired of being the ones that are going to be expected to, of course, they’re going to figure their way out of it, you know, and it’s I think that’s I think it’s a profound question. It’s a really profound question because how we provide supports and which sectors of society get supports and how do we actually rationalize where those choices are made. It’s a, I think it’s a very difficult transition we’re going to be in here, as we recover. But also as we try to imagine building in resilience going forward. Beth, what’s your perspective. I mean, you have a wide ranging membership, I’m sure big, small, the whole gamut, right? And they’re all affected. Right. So what’s your sort of sense of? And I’m going to just invite all of you to turn your mics on, so that it can be more like a conversation. Like don’t feel you have to mute yourself unless you’re like me, you have a puppy who’s making a yak in the background. Just keep your mics open. It’s much easier. Go ahead, Beth. 


Beth Potter [00:07:46] Ok well I have no puppies, so I’m good. So, yeah, when we talk about tourism, we often talk about, you know, a suite of sectors. Our members are representative of everyone from the local restaurant down the corner that has four table tops to Air Canada. I mean, and everybody in between. And so it really is a suite of sectors. We cover everything from seasonal to full time, year round, inbound, outbound, activities that you do when you’re here. Accommodation, transportation, you know, culture, live events, you know, the whole gamut and Tarun, I love your reference to the old days. You know, I one time turn on the radio, there was an oldie station. It was playing all my favorite songs, oldies. 


Mary Rowe [00:08:38] When did this happen? 


Beth Potter [00:08:39] Yeah, the old days is now 2019.  


Michael Rubinoff [00:08:45] Hundred years ago. 


Beth Potter [00:08:49] So in the old days, tourism in this country was a hundred and five billion dollar a year industry. And employed 2 million Canadians, and we are half that now. 


Mary Rowe [00:09:00] And when you define tourism Beth. 


Beth Potter [00:09:04] And half of them are struggling. 


Mary Rowe [00:09:04] And Beth, when you define tourism, do you mean, it’s not just people coming from offshore? I mean, I’m a tourist when I go to, when I go to another province? Or am I a tourist when I go to another city? Or am I both? 


Beth Potter [00:09:13] You are a tourist when you travel 40 kilometers away from your home. 


Mary Rowe [00:09:17] Oh, really? 


Beth Potter [00:09:18] Yes. 


Mary Rowe [00:09:20] Ok. 


Beth Potter [00:09:20] So we’ve all been promoting, you know, support local. Get out and explore your neighborhoods, you know, support Main Street sweep that that is being a domestic tourist. 


Mary Rowe [00:09:34] It’s interesting because tourism has a bit of a pejorative. You know, it’s like because there’s bad tourists and bad tourism, you know, as opposed to visitor. I guess that’s part of, part of the shifting to the different language because tourist sounds as if you’re extractive and you only go and then you take what you want, leave your garbage behind, you know what I mean? As opposed to visitor, which has a different kind of etiquette, I think affiliated with it or something that I’m very interested here, that 40 km rule. So in fact, when we resume a different kind of mobility, there will be a lot of us that will be considered visitors doing all sorts of things right? 


Beth Potter [00:10:05] Absolutely. And you know, I mean, you know, we do actually talk about it in terms of the visitor economy and we talk about what that means to different businesses within our suite of sectors. I mean, some are focused very much on the domestic market. And so they’re they’re looking at locals and or at least Canadians. But other businesses are very much focused on the almost ninety seven million international travelers that we had in 2019 that came into the country. Those people are, you know, they they stay longer, they spend more money, they get into it. They’re looking for those absolutely unique experiences and they’re pretty precious to us. 


Mary Rowe [00:10:54] A hundred million visits? Or visitors? 


Beth Potter [00:10:57] Visitors. 


Mary Rowe [00:10:58] Visitors. Wow. Amazing. Well, I guess, you know, we’re going to have some questions about that because with climate and with the other kinds of challenges and the fact that people are out of the habit, I just wonder, are we going to be after another 100 million to come in like that, an annual basis? Or will we say, you know, maybe what we need is 60 million, but they come and stay longer. I don’t know what the answer is on that, but I’m just drawing a comparison to what we’re talking about with work from home. One of the questions that was raised earlier in the session, one of the sessions was maybe people won’t go downtown to work every day, but maybe they’ll go three times a week. And maybe when they go for those three times, they’ll end up spending as much money as they did spend when they were used to come in five days a week. So I just did interesting kind of question of modal shifts and that kind of thing, you know, anyway, we’ll come back to it. Erin, talk to us about this constituency that you serve in the, obviously, Tarun is part of it. But what are the broader issues that you’re hearing around live music? And again, you’ve got big venues, small venues, right? 


Erin Benjamin [00:11:53] Thanks, Mary, and I do have a puppy in the background and a couple of kids coming home from school, so apologies for any noise. So the Canadian Live Music Association basically represents the broad ecology of the industry, with the exception of artists. So we’re really focused on the industry side. So promoters, festivals, clubs all the way from the small live music venue to the major arenas and stadiums in the country and all the books in between. So the supply chain, which has been fundamentally crushed in the last couple of years. But the folks who put the artists on the stage as the folks behind the stage, the folks and box office, front of house, sound lights, tech production, that sort of thing. But really, our core stakeholders are the folks who are putting artists on stage. And that was our focus pre-COVID. Really, our association is only about seven, eight years old now, and we were established to really start telling the story of live music to express to government, you know how big we were and what kind of jobs we were creating our contribution to GDP and also organizing ourselves as an industry. We were not particularly united. Lots of great entrepreneurs, very competitive, proprietary folks doing amazing work in their own corners of their universes. But enter Covid and I like to call those by the way, I call those the before times. So there was that, that was the before times. And now we’re in Covid times and enter Covid and Truly, an incredibly galvanizing call to action in terms of how will we survive and the way that we’ve come together has been remarkable and has really allowed the association to lead on many, many pieces of this. And I mean, I could talk for hours about the layers and layers and layers of impact and what and the ripple effects and what it will mean. I’m very interested in focusing on the downtown piece, but ultimately we’ve seen an incredible contraction in the industry. Many, many, many skilled workers, we’ve lost major companies that we’re suppliers. We will have situations potentially in the summer where we’ll be back up on our feet in terms of being able to gather. But we won’t have the production capability to put on shows. And for those that for that, for that gear that we need, the price will have gone exponentially through the roof, et cetera. So it’s been a litany of issues, the challenges and an incredible community and talk about resilience Mary, really amazing, amazing passion people. Many of whom remarkably and thanks to leadership from people like Beth Potter, I must say, was done. I hope I get a chance to come back to that Beth, with Suzy, co-chairs of the hardest hit coalition helping the many of us through this, thanks to that work, are still standing remarkably and waiting through restrictions as we keep our fingers crossed on what we hope will be an imminent and full reopening. 


Mary Rowe [00:14:41] Yet people, I don’t know if they realize how interconnected your sectors are, right? So Michael, I’m interested to talk with you because I was in New York for a number of years, and so I got to see I knew that one of the campaigns that I was involved with was around the garment district. It was a historic employment district in New York City, in Manhattan, and it had been there for decades and it was largely immigrant led, an immigrant run. And it was in all those old tenement buildings, right? And it was, where the button makers were in, the peacemakers were, you know, it’s the famous shots of people pushing hangers of clothing, you know, those that’s the garment district. And it really did have a kind of geographical proximity to it was like an ecosystem. And then when Manhattan started to gentrify, and all of a sudden high end hotels and restaurants were moving in. It disrupted the garment district, but it didn’t just disrupt the fashion industry. It disrupted Broadway because any place that when if you’re running a preview of come from away and you know how this works, if a director looks at the preview and says, you know what? The dancing shoes are all the wrong color, go get those dyed blue tonight. They would go into the garment district, and that’s where it would happen. And similarly, all the amateur companies are not nonprofit theater companies that were operating or whatever else. They all became part of it. So it’s just this interconnectedness, and I’m sure that’s part of the story of Come From Away, that when David Mirvish announced that it had to be disrupted. And as we’ve seen in these different economies, and Tarun, I’m sure that’s true in terms of your festival, your folks do all sorts of other gigs when they’re not in the festival. And the same is true in these centers. People have a gig with the National Arts Center and they’re doing something on the side and then they also have an entrepreneurial business where they’re stitching something else together. So from your perspective as a producer and I think you’re an educator as well, do you want to comment a bit about, how do we sort of re-stitch back in, as we recover the role of these cultural entities and in this cultural capacity? I guess, because it’s an economic thing, but it’s also it’s also a social connected thing, right? 


Michael Rubinoff [00:16:43] Very much so. And Erin brings up a very good point. It’s about people and people in our industry hurting right now. You know, we’ve been subject to capacity limits up and down, closures up and down. And when we look at government programs, I like to say invest versus support, but government programs, investing in arts and culture. We have had a misstep. You know, programs, federal programs like tourism and hospitality, those are geared towards income supports for employees. And we need to remind levels of government, that arts workers, you know, the people that make the art, the people that support the art are independent contractors are in, you know, a freelance workers on cruise. And if we’re going to rebuild this ecology, we got to do a number of things. If we do have those supports A., we need them now. We can’t wait until April or we need retroactivity. We need to make sure we open those support so that when we do come back, just like Erin’s industry, we have that experience. Those crews are so integral. Those actors are so integral. They have been out of work going on almost two years that we’re going to lose them. So this is so important in terms of the supports that also goes to opening a door where we’ve seen income supports for, you know, a universal income for artists that is now bubbling up. Ireland is going this direction. San Francisco has gone in this direction and I think it’s time we discuss that as we want to look at our artists living in our downtowns and living in our cities and all of the challenges that are surrounding that. How are we going to support them? We cannot lose them to create that work and from our smallest speeders to our largest theaters, and I just want to make one point we look at come from way as this juggernaut and what happened to us and that we couldn’t get government support. You know, today there are four companies have come from running in Sydney, on Broadway, on tour in North America and London. We, need to open that support and we need to, our government needs to aim with the same engagement investments we’ve done for film and television. And obviously, the great work that started in music, when we get behind that as Canadians, what we do for our downtowns in our cities is extraordinary. But we need that now for the live performance industry. 


Mary Rowe [00:18:56] So let’s talk about that for a sec because you just made an interesting point about it, like you’re an employee. So if you’re an employee and the relief went to the employer, which we know it did, the Canadian emergency wage subsidy was an incentive for employers to keep people employed, don’t lay them off. And in fact, we were hearing it in the restaurant sector all the time that the cost of laying folks off and then you don’t get them back retraining better to actually lay them off on salary. But if you are in a creative industry and you’re not an employee and you maybe don’t ever want to be an employee like some of it is choice. I worry a little bit that we’ve we’ve created this pejorative around the gig economy. Lots of people choose it. Not everybody does, but there are people that use it and part of the creative industry. As you move from this to this to this to this, so is the option a universal basic income? And is it, and maybe it’s only not just for artists we had on the previous session people saying, why aren’t we looking at, we basically have had a universal basic income for the last two years. That’s in effect what CERB was. And should we keep it on? What do people think? 


Michael Rubinoff [00:19:57] I’ll pass to somebody else. Yes, for me, 


Mary Rowe [00:20:00] Yes, for you, Beth, what do you think? 


Beth Potter [00:20:01] Listen, we are in a situation where we’ve seen some of our most precarious groups be affected even harder than others in this throughout this pandemic. And so would a basic income help us to level the playing field for women, for new Canadians, for young workers. Absolutely it would. 


Mary Rowe [00:20:27] As a stabilizer really. 


Beth Potter [00:20:28] It’s a stabilizer. 


Mary Rowe [00:20:30] Mm hmm. 


Erin Benjamin [00:20:31] Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. The other thing it does is create a hopefully an opportunity that hasn’t been entirely lost for artists who are merging into the space and will choose to work in under certain conditions. It is hardly a lucrative. 


Mary Rowe [00:20:46] And no, nobody gets rich on these things like it’s just I don’t know where people have that perception, but we know anecdotally. I mean, they did do a basic income pilot in Ontario, for instance, and they we know anecdotally that people that benefited from it ended up doing exactly as you’re suggesting here, and they took on something new or it gave them an opportunity to actually cultivate something. And then what we don’t know, because it didn’t carry on very long. Is, is there a way that people then end up earning more than the than the basic income that’s provided to them? And then eventually the basic income is no longer required because they’re earning a salary some other way? Right? It’s a curious. 


Erin Benjamin [00:21:18] Yeah I think ultimately part of this conversation is connected to the legitimization of arts and culture and how we value them as a society. I mean, once and for all. I mean, if one more person tells me oh music played, you know, it’s been played such a fundamental role in our mental health and healing during the pandemic. Well, you know what? That’s great. And I agree. And for me, too. But we really, really, really need to take a hard look at the types of cultural and fiscal policy that’s being developed at every level of government. We’re talking about downtown. So we have an incredible, incredible opportunity before us, before chunks of our cultural infrastructure fall into the wasteland forever. A much more expensive to rebuild than to maintain it. 


Mary Rowe [00:21:56] Well, can we talk about that? Can we talk about that? Because cultural infrastructure, as you suggest, iconic cultural infrastructure is critically important to downtowns around the world. So do you in each of your cities have a concern about that? Do you think that we need to be looking carefully at the actual built environment? I mean, are we going to lose some of these theaters? Are we going to be losing some of these museums? Are we? Ok, we are.


Michael Rubinoff [00:22:18] OK. I have two concerns. One is the infrastructure. There’s definitely that concern that we need funds to renovate, to make them more accessible, to make them more open. That is it. That is a current need. The second need around infrastructure is the evictions. You know, we saw the distillery district with a number of companies that found their footing, their foundation built their culture, built their audience and then they’re moved out. So, you know, I think infrastructure, we look at it in two ways in the downtowns. 


Mary Rowe [00:22:50] So let’s talk a bit about the opportunism of this, though. I mean, we’ve been involved with Why Not Productions and the Metcalf Foundation funded us to do a piece of work on, meanwhile, leases that if you’re going to have empty space, why not find ways to make you deal with the insurance and find ways to make it available as rehearsal space? Because it’s a benefit to the creative who gets who needs access to that space? It’s a benefit to the landlord because something’s happening in their building. It’s also a benefit if it’s at the street level to people passing by, because all of a sudden something is going on in there. So we had, you know, Michael Emory at Allied, was one of our opening speakers yesterday, is one of the sponsors of this, and he’s a guy who takes old buildings and turns it into a commercial space. But it’s interesting to talk to those folks about how do we actually promote this kind of suggestion you’re making, which is adaptive reuse. Calgary had four hundred empty office floors before Covid. Somebody on the chat is going to know and is going to write in what Deborah reported, the head of the Calgary chamber reported today at what her vacancy rate is. I think it’s something like thirty five percent anybody on the chat. Remember, I think it was. So there are empty spaces out there. Is there a way for the creative industry and it and do we need to create some tax incentive? I don’t know. I’m asking my policy people to listen for that. That would make that easier so that rehearsal space would be available. Creative space would be nice. 


Erin Benjamin [00:24:05] Mary, absolutely. Meanwhile, we’re losing those spaces in Toronto. It’s fundamental, especially to the whole music cities. 


Mary Rowe [00:24:11] Are we losing it to housing? What are we losing it to? 


Erin Benjamin [00:24:14] That’s a good question. I wish Mark Garner were on this panel. He might talk about what works. 


Mary Rowe [00:24:19] Mark’s in the chat marks. He can throw in his comments in the chat. I see him there.


Erin Benjamin [00:24:23] Other businesses, perhaps with deeper pockets in prime real estate. But you know, I think the opening up of space downtown creates a great opportunity because if we don’t have creatives creating in the downtown space, we, you know, we don’t have the option to share that content ultimately.  


Mary Rowe [00:24:44] I mean, one of the things that the chamber guys were talking about, too, is that they’re reading about how businesses are having to sweeten the pot to get workers to come back. You know, you can’t just it’s not like the old days where the employer tells you that, you will come back some workforces say, I don’t think so. So they have to find ways to entice them to come back. 


Beth Potter [00:25:00] It’s workers, though, because we need our downtown cores to attract the international visitor and some of those international visitors are, you know, they’re on business. They’re coming in for business. Is that right? And we know that when international events come in, international investment, soon follows. And so, you know, if we don’t have activated downtown cores with cool, interesting things to do telling our story as Canada, then we’re missing an element there on that side as well. 


Mary Rowe [00:25:34] Mm hmm. Tarun, what’s your experience when you’ve been looking? I mean, you’ve curated and you’ve been part of large scale and small scale. Do you see an opportunity through this to cultivate, for instance, more neighborhood, more smaller scale initiatives? And if we don’t, if we do, we have an opportunity to do that. Mark has put into the chat that in for downtown young, for the BIA, he’s focusing on art and cultural activities to get people back to Young Street. Do you see that as a niche? I don’t know if we want to call it a niche but. 


Tarun Nayar [00:26:03] Yeah, I mean, I’m finding this whole discussion fascinating, it’s so hard to I just find so many times during this pandemic, I’ve tried to predict what’s going to happen next, but the right way forward is and it just, you know, at this point, I’m just like, I don’t know what’s happening. Yeah. I know that Surrey at least has lost one in twenty five of their downtown businesses, and I know that there’s many more that are threatened right now and are just subsisting on government support. And you can see that when you’re driving around in Surrey, you can definitely see that when you’re driving around downtown Vancouver. I don’t know if you going to get a subway sandwich is going to get me out of bed and into downtown. But if there was a cool outdoor festival, that would certainly be interesting. That that kind of depends on that kind of depends on there being the possibility to gather in large numbers again, which I know everyone is really expecting to happen. Maybe by March, maybe by April. I am still on the fence. 


Mary Rowe [00:26:56] You’re going to believe it when you see it. Well, but what about that? But the other question is, I mean, could we can we gather outdoors? That’s the interesting. I mean, I guess that’s one question, but as certainly as the nicer weather approaches. But also and again, you know, some of the business advocates, I’m sure you have them in your memberships are saying, no, no, we have to just equip ourselves so we can’t shy away again. We have to find ways to be so that we can be safe and that we have all the necessary provisions that we need in terms of air filters or whatever the heck it is and and that we don’t stop functioning. We find a way to function in a safer way. I guess that’s a challenge for the cultural sector. And I actually don’t know how the numbers work. I went to the ballet and I was looking at the hall thinking, I have no idea how anybody is making this work financially, right? I don’t know. I just can’t imagine. Go ahead. 


Michael Rubinoff [00:27:48]  Go ahead, Beth. 


Beth Potter [00:27:50] No, I was going to agree. I mean, I think that, you know, there are some great things happening in other jurisdictions around the world that we can be learning from. And I was just looking at Jeff’s comment in the chat where you talks about, you know, the difference between how we value our arts and culture and our artists. You know, here in Canada and and how they’re valued in other places around the world. We’re all willing to fork out seven bucks for a coffee at Starbucks. But we shy away when it’s like five bucks to go into a bar to hear a band. Well, you know, there’s a there’s a huge difference there. And I mean, how many people, if you’ve got any kind of skill, oh, can you take my picture for free? Oh, can you? Yeah, me for free. Oh, it’s like why you wouldn’t ask me to lobby for you for free, would you? Because I’m not going to do it. So why would I expect? 


Mary Rowe [00:28:41] But I bet, you know, these are things that we’ve struggled with for ever. And I’m trying to figure out, how do you come out of? How do you come out of the Covid? How do you come out of the pandemic with a different you’ve got a moment because people know what they people appreciate what they’ve missed, so they might be willing to pay for it. Go ahead, Michael. 


Michael Rubinoff [00:28:56] So create the climate to stimulate that. So we’ve seen that in film. So through tax credits where you can get some commercial investment or stimulate commercial investment in terms of valuing arts and culture when you’re in Australia, the premier of New South Wales and the Premier of Victoria fight over who can support a musical better to get the Australian premiere of that show. You know, the premier of Victoria, came to Broadway, stood outside our theater for Come From Away and was proud to announce we would start in Melbourne. It’s a different way that culture is valued, and I think we have to look at things that have worked very well for the film industry. Also working with landlords that we can have incentives to provide that space. And, you know, I’ll just say, you know, art, it encompasses so many different things. You know, dance companies are looking for venues, immersive theater, you know, we got to get people away from the computer. We got to bring them down. There is a creative, interesting way we can use our city and our city spaces. If we will, if we have the will to come together with our government privately, not for profits and try and navigate this. 


Mary Rowe [00:30:04] So I’d like to hear. I’d like to hear more about what those instruments are. Again, we’re doing a wrap up session in a couple of hours about what the instruments need to be and what do we need more research on. And one of them would be, it seems to me, what would the tax levers be? What would it take to get as you’re so just suggesting the idea that Beth,  they come in, they visit and then it actually leads to foreign investment? That’s interesting. Like, are there ways to we also, we do also know this that a recruiting talent to get the folks that are really capable on certain kinds of things are often the same people who are high consumers of culture. They don’t there’s not a straight line there, but there is something about that that and it’s similarly we have old buildings. We know that creatives, for whatever set of reasons like old buildings. So are there ways for us to do adaptive reuse differently? We’ve been pushing this around should we have more housing in downtown and can we convert some of those office buildings and housing? What about cultural spaces? Should we be repurposing spaces that may not get occupied by commercial use or some other use? Could they be? Permanent performance spaces or permanent creative spaces. I mean, we’ve all been to these Van Gogh huge, well  not all, but I’ve been to a couple of these and they’re extraordinary and they were unbelievably opportunistic. And I was really glad for it, frankly, because I felt very deprived of any kind of stimulation. And I really enjoyed the piece that I saw and it was immersive in an old building, right? 


Beth Potter [00:31:22] Wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if we could say all of those, office towers in downtown Toronto where the tenants had, you know, stripped out all of the offices and gone for this big open workspace? And now nobody’s there working. You’ve got a grand big open distant space, they can be used. And what value do they bring? Does that bring to to the building, to the neighborhood and not just in dollars like, you know, not in direct dollars? Like what are the what’s the ripple effect? And can we start valuing things in a different way? 


Erin Benjamin [00:31:59] Exactly. And I think that it comes I mean, all of these ideas are great. I mean, there’s a million things that we can and should be doing. Forget about COVID of It’s like we just haven’t valued the work to the extent that I’m talking about all or it’s not just like music. One of the things I’m really interested in exploring are collaborations. I know you’re saying it’s a theme I heard it said yesterday and again today. Here we need to expand our collaborative efforts with both the usual and unusual suspects, especially in live music. I think Corporate Canada could be playing a more significant leadership role because we know creative cities attract talent, adds to city brand building tourism. All the things, there are some great examples I have of that have surfaced in the last couple of years of what example can access a visionary CEO, John Sicard, based here in Ottawa, who’s been working with our association not only to help artists directly, but to come up with creative ways of integrating his ethos of his company into the work that we do. But it’s important primarily because what he’s recognized is that he can access a company that has that has thrived during the pandemic, has a responsibility and a direct relationship to the work that we do. And he’s standing up and and saying, You know, how can I help? And we’ve been finding amazing ways, and it’s not always about money. So I’m really interested in exploring some of these relationships. And also, I think what will be elemental to this is reducing red tape, and I hate to simplify it to that one sentence, but making it easier for things to happen, whether it’s a little things, big things indoors, outdoors, it can be very, very complicated to actually put on a festival and working with municipalities, I think, is the way forward on that and really sort of freeing up some of these events to actually go forward when we need it. 


Mary Rowe [00:33:43] It’s interesting. I mean, we talk. We had sessions yesterday on anchor institutions and downtown. Some your session is being followed by one on the role of universities, but we had one. We had one, two yesterday, one dealing with libraries and one dealing with churches, faith institutions and in both cases, the stewards of those facilities. One was from New York and they were in four different and one was from Halifax. One was from California, from Calgary. They were talking about using their venues as convening spaces for cultural activity, and they cited it right off the bat. And the convener of that session on faith institutions, Graham Singh, runs something called Trinity Center’s Foundation, and he has a circus that literally a circus that has partnered with him in his congregation. So they rehearse in the name of that church and then they perform and the cute. The pews have been converted into bar stools, I think. And then, you know, it’s let’s face places and there’s a trapeze at the top. I’ve been in it, the trapeze at the top of the nave and on a Saturday night, you’re there having a cocktail and watching these fantastic contortionist who I suspect are a feeder company into Cirque du Soleil again and unbelievably successful business that created a bunch of other spinoffs. And then and then the next day, they worship there. So these kinds of creative uses of spaces and how do we motivate people to just say yes, this is the one thing about Covid that I think has been good is that because there was some urgency. We tried some stuff. I get a bit anxious about a swinging back to normal where we go back to being like Canadians saying no all the time. 


Beth Potter [00:35:16] We can’t, we can’t afford to. We have to look at different ways. And it’s not just, it’s not just as a means of survival, but it’s also, you know, as Canadians, as travellers around the world, we’re seeing people’s wants and desires change for what they want to see as well. You know this this pandemic has not just been, oh, stay at home and work from your dining room table or your bedroom. This has fundamentally changed the way we all interact with each other. And so we have got to find different ways of interacting with our our clients, whether they are going to a live music event, whether they’re going to the theater, whether they’re getting on a gondola and going up the side of a mountain or whatever it is that they’re doing, we have to find it in a different way of engaging with them because they are different people now and so and way more savvy around technology than we were two years ago as well. 


Tarun Nayar [00:36:24] That’s why I’ve been thinking over the last five minutes or so how important it will be as we try to convince people to come back to downtown centers to integrate those kinds of ideas in not just to go back, not not going back to business as usual, but you know, I think municipal governments can play a role like I’ve been watching as bike lanes have expanded dramatically in Vancouver because there’s just been this land grab by the city of Vancouver that people aren’t driving as much. We can set up bike lanes, we can make parklets. I think that’s fantastic. I think we should shut down a couple of the main arteries and Vancouver and turn them into pedestrian only. That’s great. We have built in venues everywhere, but along with that is communicating effectively on social media, on TikTok. On like, you know, metaverse type applications of what we’re doing so that there is the ability for people who are still scared to gain up their confidence by watching and participating, you know, through technology until they get the confidence to get, you know, get on the bus and come back downtown. 


Mary Rowe [00:37:23] I mean, one of the important things I would think about this sector, this whole question of culture and hospitality and tourism is that it’s by its definition, diverse. So it appeals to different kinds of folks and it reflects different kinds of experience. This is not a particularly diverse panel, and I’m concerned about how do we make sure that the cultural renaissance that let’s help me, touching wood there may emerge here is actually reflective of the diversity of Canada and the diversity of the different cultural communities that exist, and also that we continue to see culture as a way to have tough conversations and to have and express some of the difficulties that we have around racism and exclusion and all those things. Thoughts on that in terms of coming out of Covid, how much of that reconciliation can be addressed through culture? How much of that we can bridge across differences? 


Beth Potter [00:38:12] Well, first of all, we’ve got a massive labor shortage, and the only way in across industry is this is not just in one sector at all. And the only way that we’re going to be able to meet the needs that we have as young people in jobs is through immigration. And so we are going to have to throw open our doors. We are going to have to be far more encouraging of this collaboration of people coming together. And we’re going to have to encourage immigration to blend into the country outside of the big city centers like they’re going to have to get into the smaller towns and the smaller main streets. And that will that will begin a ripple of, as you say, reconciliation. And then of course, with the Indigenous, I mean, Indigenous tourism was the biggest growing sector of our industry prior to COVID, because people want to know they want to, they want to get, they want to hear the stories they want to experience and touch, you know, the real, tangible stories that the indigenous peoples of Canada can can share with. 


Mary Rowe [00:39:35] Well, I mean, and I immediately get worried about that, that it becomes extractive again. But I but I hear you. I mean, all these things have to be led by at the ground and hopefully they’re led by the communities themselves. And I appreciate what you’re saying about immigration and newcomers, but we’ve also got populations across the country. People of color, communities of colour and may is there an option, for instance, if we have this abundance of space, is there some way for your sector to prioritize accessibility of those spaces to performers of color and performers that are coming out of cultural communities? And why wouldn’t that be one of our goals coming out of this so that we don’t just make room for the for the already successful mainstream performer, but we actually make sure that we’re cultivating this kind of wider mix? Erin, I’m sure, Erin, you must have this because many, many, many musicians and you have a very, very diverse constituency in your life, in your sector. 


Erin Benjamin [00:40:28] Yeah, I’d like to actually let Tarun jump in becuase I just feel like you’ve had something to say on your time because I can talk about what Tarun knows what we’re working on, at our organization. But you want to go first and then I can add on. 


Tarun Nayar [00:40:38] I mean, I could talk about this for hours, but yes, Mary, this is definitely an opportunity. We’ve done some extremely exciting work at the Canadian Live Music Association around this Closing the Gap study, and I don’t think I’m going to, you know, I’m not going to release any of the information, but it’s absolutely shocking. And I think one of the most shocking discrepancies between, let’s say, White live industry workers and nonwhite and POC industry workers, is that almost all of the POC workers are artists, so I don’t think it’s just about giving performers access. 


Mary Rowe [00:41:08] Yeah, that’s a good point. 


Tarun Nayar [00:41:09] It’s about giving organizations access and funding organizations because as long as all of the gatekeepers in the country are White as they are, yeah, we’re not going to see change like as much as, you know, as much as we would hope that people would out of the goodness of their heart. Move aside and leave room for others. That is not actually what happens, and we don’t see that happening. It turns out that most White live music workers think their organizations are diverse and doing a good job at diversifying. But actually, most POC workers at those organizations do not agree with that sentiment. So I feel in situations like this, active disruption is needed and I don’t mean a revolution, but I do mean a revolution in the way that we’re funding things and providing access. And I absolutely think this is a good point at which to do this. And all of us who hold power have the responsibility to push not only to make room, but also to push governments for these changes to be made so we can actually see some progress. It’s been too long. 


Mary Rowe [00:42:12] Mm hmm. Yeah. Again, this is part of these tax instruments, instruments that are maybe made available to us. We administered CUI, the Healthy Communities Initiative with Community Foundations of Canada. And my main street. Both of these are funded by the Government of Canada, and they have explicit equity deserving community priorities. And you know, that’s a real challenge for white organizations to be responsive to. This is not easy, and we don’t get it right a lot of the time. And so I’m just interested as we come out of this. Can we somehow double down in terms of our commitment of allyship and all that thing? OK, so we want to get a couple more minutes left. Go ahead. Somebody’s going to say something.


Erin Benjamin [00:42:45] I was just going to I was just going to add on the study that Tarun is talking about is called Closing the Gap and can be released by the Canadian Live Music Association within a month. And Covid gave us this opportunity to really excel and  prioritize, accelerate rather and prioritize this conversation. And we know that no one is would ever say that the live music industry was the healthiest, highest functioning industry. I mean, certainly not, and it really, really did give us an opportunity to dive into this work. It’s just so elemental. And I think at this moment in our history, you know, before times being what they were, it’s our responsibility to really, really springboard off some of this research. The research is just a starting line, right? It’s just the starting line and what comes after that matters. And we’re hoping to set the tone for the next several years with government and community together. I think when we look back on this on the pandemic. I’m really optimistic. One of the things we’ll be able to point to is this moment, when it comes to really diversifying our industry and hopefully others. 


Michael Rubinoff [00:43:42] If I can comment on that too. I mean, it’s the same, you know, in live performances, the same issues. And this is why it’s so critical as we see young people who are leading on these issues and leading for the call for diversity and opening up those gates, we need to make sure they’re supported. So this is where we come back to that, you know, basic income, these wage supports because we don’t want to lose those people. That’s one of my biggest fears that we are going to lose some people that we really, really need in our industry to help change and evolve and tell their stories. 


Mary Rowe [00:44:16] So I think the point here is that it ain’t going to be easy, right? I mean, we’re all champions of this critical ingredients that makes downtown life and makes urban life worth living, frankly. And it’s important. It’s important, to obviously, from an economic point of view, but it’s important to an employment point of view, important from an equity point of view. And it’s just important in terms of the vibrancy and vitality and viability of downtown core. So thank you for joining us and thanks for challenging us. The conversation is never over. As we say, this is just the beginning and we’re not going to let go of this. We feel really strongly that. And actually, I think in this case, the federal minister actually is very sympathetic to a lot of what we’re talking about. So there may be a window here in terms of doing this differently and valuing things differently. And certainly, as we recover, we’ve got to think of really imaginative ways to invest differently. So thank you for helping provoke us. Tarun, lovely to meet you. Hi, Michael, nice to see you and be on this and I want come from way to come back. I’m going to I’m one of those people that would be a multi-core if I, if there were a show for me, just go to. Erin, always great to see you and Beth, nice to see you again. Thanks for joining us. We’re going to take a 15 minute break. This is our last break. So enjoy it, that play this record. You can get it on Spotify and we’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about some tangible things that are going on in universities and why they’re important to actually bringing back downtowns. And then we’re going to talk about actions on the ground from Los Angeles and from New York and from other cities across the country. So thanks for joining us. See you back here in 15 minutes. Thanks, gang, for being part of the sanctuary. 


All Panelists [00:45:41] Thanks Mary. 


Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

03:53:31 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome back everyone! A friendly zoom reminder, you can see and hear us but we can’t see or hear you

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03:53:38 Puneeta McBryan: @Cherie 😉

03:54:03 Zelda Brown: Another fun tidbit: The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) strives to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

Canadian Urban Institute: We are going to jump right into our next session “Downtown Dynamism: Rebuilding Hospitality and Culture”. Canada’s hospitality, culture and tourism sectors are completely connected to the dynamism of our downtowns. Locals and tourists come to ‘the city’ for experiences they can’t find anywhere else. These activities create jobs and generate millions in tax revenue for all levels of government. Months of lock-downs have left these key sectors of our economic and civic life in a precarious position. What actions are needed to support this industry and bring people back downtown?

Joining us today are:
Beth Potter, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada 
Michael Rubinoff, Theatre Producer and Founding Producer, Come from Away  

Erin Benjamin, President, Canadian Live Music Association

Tarun Nayar, Executive Director, 5X Festival

03:54:21 Stephanie Beausoleil: @Zelda Thank you

03:55:21 Stephanie Beausoleil: Right on Mary!

03:56:28 Canadian Urban Institute: Beth Potter is the President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). TIAO advocates to create an environment for growth for tourism. With more than 25 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector, Beth has worked with a variety of boards, committees and volunteers from all walks of life. Current board positions include: Metro Toronto Convention Centre; Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Advisory Council; and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

03:56:56 Canadian Urban Institute: Michael Rubinoff is a Toronto based Olivier Award winning and Tony Award nominated producer who conceived the international hit musical Come From Away. In 2011 he established the Canadian Music Theatre Project (CMTP), an international incubator for the development of new musicals, where he produced and developed the first workshops of Come From Away and 29 other musicals. In 2019 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross by the Governor General of Canada for his role in creating Come From Away. Upcoming: world premieres of the new Canadian musicals Grow, at London’s Grand Theatre April 2022, and Johnny Reid’s Maggie. He is the co-founder of M/Y storycreative, an agency dedicated to empowering creators, thought leaders, industry innovators and organizations to realize their full creative potential. A proud graduate of Western Law. Social @mrubinoff

03:57:32 Laura Wall: Attending live theatre between lockdowns last summer I was overwhelmed with emotion – miss live arts and cultural experiences so much

03:57:34 Canadian Urban Institute: Erin Benjamin is the President & CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association since its creation in 2014. Erin Benjamin has worked in the Canadian music industry for over 25 years – first as a touring and recording artist and then as executive director of both Folk Music Ontario (2001) and the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (2008). Founder of the Ottawa Women in the Music Industry group and a passionate, highly-regarded leader, Erin currently serves on the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports’ Ontario Live Music Working Group as co-chair, Ontario Creates (formerly the OMDC) Music Industry Advisory Committee, Algonquin College’s Music Industry Arts Advisory Committee and is a board member the Unison Benevolent Fund, MEGAPHONO and RBC Ottawa Bluesfest.

03:57:48 Canadian Urban Institute: Tarun Nayar is Executive Director of 5X Festival, Canada’s largest South Asian youth event. He is a board member of the Canadian Live Music Association, a member of FACTOR’s Diversity and Inclusivity Committee, and the leader of the 2019-2022 Music BC Trade Missions to Mumbai. Tarun manages emerging Pakistani-Canadian electronic artist Khanvict, and is the co-founder and owner of digital label Snakes x Ladders which focuses on the new wave of hybrid South Asian artists. Trained formally in Indian Classical Music from the age of 7, Tarun’s involvement in Vancouver’s underground electronic music scene in his early 20s led to the formation of well-known Canadian band Delhi 2 Dublin in 2006. He has since led the band to Glastonbury (UK), Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (US), Woodford (AUS) and almost 2000 other club and festival gigs around the world. Tarun is passionate about creating opportunities in the arts for people of colour.

03:58:32 Judith Cox: Mariposa Folk Festival, Orillia Ontario👍👏

03:58:52 paul mackinnon: Anytime restauranteurs feel bad for themselves, they consider the last 2 years for arts and culture sector. Yikes! We need to get live events back!

03:59:13 Emily Herd: So great having Delhi 2 Dublin at Edm Folk Music Festival – multiple years!

04:00:21 Kay Matthews: Great to see you Beth!

04:00:28 Judith Cox: Our village of Coldwater , misses our Village Players Theatre productions!! Sad not to have our cultural events

04:00:48 Tarun – 5X Festival: Thanks Emily!

04:03:28 Tzu Chen Wang: Slightly confused, if its 40km from where you are located, how did you define the industry to be at 105 billion?

04:03:31 Ross Jeffeson: Great point, tourists vs. visitors.  Little know fact, on average 1 in 37 people in the Halifax region is an overnight visitor.  This is similar to other cities.   that is an important part of the culture of a community.

04:03:46 Ross Jeffeson: 1 in 27.   sorry typo

04:05:22 paul mackinnon: Normally Canadians leaving Canada for tourism spend 2x what international visitors spend in Canada. Conference board of Canada is predicting that 2022 summer will be larger than 2019 – because people will be wiling to travel within Canada more than internationally. Is the tourism industry ready for this? Will arts venues be fully open/staffed?

04:05:53 Shannon Bowler: Bravo Erin and the CLMA on your tireless advocacy the past 2 years!

04:05:55 Ross Jeffeson: Paul, great point!

04:06:21 paul mackinnon: It should be Ross-  I got all that info from you!

04:06:42 Ross Jeffeson: Erin, this is absolutely true.  Capacity to host is critical.

04:06:56 Mark Garner: Downtown Yonge is planning our key recovery when we open back up to be Arts and Culture.  This is based on the economic contribution it makes to our neighbourhood and the City of Toronto

04:08:21 Stephanie McCracken: Love this story of interconnectedness Mary!

04:10:17 Kay Matthews: Artists are like many small businesses, they are sole proprietors and therefore have fallen through the cracks regarding supports.

04:10:40 Judith Cox: Exactly Kay!

04:10:59 susan wright: New York just announced universal basic income for artists:

04:11:27 Kay Matthews: Was Basic Income for all Canadian an opportunity that was missed???

04:11:54 paul mackinnon: Support for a basic income seems to be pretty broad, across the political and sectoral spectrum. Never heard the case for how this might spur creativity amongst artists though. Have there been any studies on this?

04:12:20 Sophia Symons: We talked a lot about bringing back office workers from remote work back in person, but should we be focusing more on artists and industries that are more in need of a downtown space?

04:13:34 Shannon Pratt: so many artists are currently struggling to create because they are so worried/busy with trying to figure out new income streams aside from their artistic practice

04:15:30 Cherie Klassen: Yes. Infrastructure for arts and entertainment is at risk. We have many theatres in our BIA, one being a heritage theatre that is falling in disrepair and been vacant for nearly 2 years.

04:15:36 Canadian Urban Institute: Just a reminder, please change your chat settings to “everyone,” so all attendees can see your questions and comments.

04:15:48 Laura Wall: Meanwhile leases? Brilliant!

04:15:50 Adriana Dossena: Pre-covid, there was already a space crunch for arts & culture innovation, creation for emerging artists could there be an opportunity for more creative use of common spaces that can engage more community members, intergenerational activity?

04:16:10 paul mackinnon: One of the great mysteries is why landlords don’t seem to want activations in their vacant storefronts.

04:17:00 Blaire Prima: If everyone went back to work in Calgary, downtown would still have a 33% vacancy….said yesterday

04:17:08 Alysson Storey: Ireland recently announced a basic income for artists (not sure if this was mentioned previously) –

04:17:18 Gelare Danaie: If we share the idea with developers that activation and events are going to make them actually make more they may become partners

04:17:25 susan wright: Also spaces are being lost because artists can no longer afford to pay due to pandemic – this is especially true of musicians

04:17:46 Geoff McCausland: Speaking to smaller venues: Touring in Canada was practically impossible before the pandemic. It was unfortunately normal for our band to get a couple free drinks and make a couple hundred bucks to split between 6 members, a sound tech, find your own place to stay, feed yourselves and pay for the gas of driving across Canada…Touring in Europe was a whole other world, where things were appreciated and people willing to support and pay. My great hope is that we will want to go back out so much to see live art and finally be willing to pay more than $5 cover to go see a band coming to town. Here’s a question I was hesitating asking: I love the playlist but were any of the artists compensated for their music?

04:18:01 Mark Garner: same as we look to repurpose employment clusters as opportunities we need to do the same for arts and culture, performance space, practise space, incubator space

04:19:06 Mark van Elsberg: When the developers “found” Queen West the City developed a NoNetLoss policy where Artist space had to be replaced in place.  Similar policy should also happen to other economic assets .  Hotels, Theatres etc..  similar to rental housing replacement

04:19:08 Kay Matthews: Not a niche, but an important eco-system that main streets have, they hire the artists in the restaurants and festivals.  There are often arts co-ops, local theatres and galleries.

04:19:23 Shannon Bowler: We need to capitalize on the renewed public appreciation and positive sentiments towards arts and culture – how they see it as vital to their own lives and the fabric of their communities and worthy of investment. Artists, festivals, and cultural orgs have a lot to offer when it comes to collaborative placemaking. They should be core to downtown renewal efforts

04:20:06 Michael Trent: The culture ecosystems must also include rural activities and experiences.

04:20:22 paul mackinnon: Because we could not count on large attendees, last year NS concentrated on many, many small live music events – on streets, in parks, in cafes, etc. We branded it as “Patio Lanterns” (any Kim Mitchell fans here?). Worked well, had govt and biz support and employed lots of musicians.

04:20:29 Kay Matthews: Some BIAs have a Vision around being Arts Hubs, such as Downtown Yonge.

04:20:51 Mark Garner: How do we protect cultural corridors that are current designated in our cities to ensure we don’t develop out the reason why we live in these neighbourhoods

04:21:04 Alysson Storey: @Geoff – I am a musician and also play in a band and I completely relate to your post. Live music on a smaller scale was almost impossible in the Before Times. I share your hope (fervently!) that there will be more of an appetite to pay a reasonable amount as consumers of arts and culture.

04:21:21 Kay Matthews: As a friend of mine once said, artists can die of exposure (can you sing for free, you will get lots of exposure)

04:21:36 Alysson Storey: Bingo Mark!! So many neighbourhoods like this are almost “victims of their own success”.

04:21:45 Tzu Chen Wang: we should no longer see rent as the only way to use commercial spaces

04:22:19 Kerry LeBlanc: here Michael> get away from the computer!

04:22:24 Rachel Braithwaite: I feel landlords know artists have been hardest hit through the pandemic and as such are reluctant to rent to them because they want a guaranteed income. We definitely need to shift the value.

04:22:29 Kay Matthews: Our main streets are all about “creating human interactions” and arts is a key part of that.

04:24:18 Alysson Storey: Amen Beth!

04:24:21 Adriana Dossena: the arts support cross sectoral collaborations through hosting & convening through events – how can these skills be mobilized to support decision makers navigate through the coming challenges, determine common goals & desirable outcomes? eg. Dancers providing tailored training programs for health workers to help destress on a long shift to facilitating operations and building managers through covid, with programming, education, data visualization, community engagement, mental health & well being, modelling & implementing pop up way-finding & cultural programming

04:25:15 Lorne Cutler: Can you get enough people back into the core until they are willing to get back onto public transit.  Since it is hard to drive and park downtown (and not everyone can walk or bike), until people are willing to get onto a crowded bus or subway car, it may be hard to fill up big events in the core.

04:25:29 Cherie Klassen: We’ve had some arts events and markets set up in a large vacant retail space on our main street. Last year, there was live music in the windows being piped out onto the street. This year, the artists will be set up in businesses.

04:25:31 Judith Cox: I agree Kay, our downtown survives and thrives from our fun and cultural events. Without them in the past 2 years, our businesses and organizations are suffering!

04:25:51 Jacoba Knaapen: Spaces need to be accessible as well as affordable, and … equipped! Open empty spaces are not necessarily going to serve the theatre creation process; ie: dance studios need sprung floors, theatre rehearsal spaces benefit the rehearsal space when equipped with a lighting grid, a sound board, etc


04:27:45 Mary Filipetto: “Hoteling” uses in adaptive spaces

04:27:54 Cherie Klassen: Agreed Mary! Never waste a good crisis! We’ve innovated and moved quicker with trying new things than we ever had, so let’s not stop.

04:28:04 Tzu Chen Wang: supporting local means more than residents in the community supporting the establishment; it requires landlords treating the tenants as customers. I think Jacoba made a very good point!

04:28:07 Alysson Storey: It would be such a shame if we went back to the “old normal”.

04:28:37 Catherine Deegan: Port Credit used to host segments of “The Comedyfest” in a church, interesting experience.

04:33:08 Jane Barkley: Catherine Deegan, I’ve worked with that comedy fest for years! Port Credit was one of 3 communities we’ve worked in and COVID has been devastating for them (as with all other events).

04:34:21 Clint Wensley: While as President of the Plaza of Nations in Vancouver, I opened the doors and sponsored many local, cultural organizations which created a great balance and revenues for the local area. A vacant space, is just that.

04:35:09 Gloria Venczel: Fundamental to small business viability issues are the phantom-tax standard tax assessments based on highest and best use in the Official Community Plans, w/o a rezoning. Disastrous system in a specultative , hot market. Current tax regime imlemented at a time when Canada was a nation of fur traders + subsistence farmers. Canada is now 82% urban, with cities as the economic and innovations drivers of the country. Cities need a New Green Deal, including a bigger piece of the tax pie (especially w/ all the senior gov’t “out of scope” downloads).

04:36:58 Clint Wensley: Covid 19 made the music & entertainment business lose 12 million jobs globally.

04:37:13 Alysson Storey: Another great discussion – I have been waiting fo this one for two days! 🙂 Really appreciate the insight from all the panelists. Your insight is critical.

04:37:14 Canadian Urban Institute: Thank you Erin, Tarun, Michael, and Beth.

We are going to take a quick 15 minute break and return at 4:30pm ET for our next session “Challenges and Opportunities for Anchor Institutions to Rebuild Downtowns: Post-secondaries” with

Dr. Joy Johnson, President and Vice Chancellor, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby  Vancouver

Mohamed Lachemi, President and Vice Chancellor, Ryerson University, Toronto.

This session will be moderated by Stephen Phillips, Senior Vice President, Business Leader, Buildings, Stantec.

04:37:26 Catherine Deegan: Jane,  yes definitely impacted by COVID, I used to be Event Project Manager for Mississauga Waterfront Festival also affected by COVID 19 as it used to attract over 60k visitors over a 3 day period in summer, having said that though the organization did take the opportunity to innovate and held a smaller event in the winter with a light and ice sculpture installation – it was well received

04:37:50 Alysson Storey: Yes please! Another HUGE vote here for Come From Away to return!

04:37:51 Cherie Klassen: Fantastic conversation. Thank you!

04:37:53 Nicole Auger: Thank you all for such an important discussion!

04:38:37 Shannon Bowler: Great discussion, thanks to the panelists

04:39:23 Adriana Dossena: Thanks for great conversation!

04:40:36 Clint Wensley: I hope is ok, if I put a plug in….My company Is Media Façade Americas, and we have co-created the largest year round Cityscape shows on earth. Massive tourism opportunities proven

04:40:41 Stephen Watt: Great presentation. Thanks

04:46:14 Voncelle Volté: Raise your hand, if you are dancing and singing to the CUI Playlist … in-between these thought-provoking sessions … 🎼 “Downtown …”💃🌻🌻🌻

04:47:26 Christopher Tweel: yes I am dancing to it ..!!

04:48:01 Jamie (she/her), Canadian Urban Institute: We’re so glad that you are loving our playlist.  You can listen to it anytime here:

04:50:46 Stephen Watt: It’s a very nice touch for the breaks and ability to see stats during break. I will incorporate the tactic in my future presentations where appropriate.

04:53:46 Brian Owen: @jamie CUI The segue music is great! If you want to compile it and share it with the attendees I would suggest creating a Spotify Playlist that would be publicly available and then provide the link to everyone, otherwise there could be Digital Rights Management issues and someone screaming about their royalties. Just my opinion and thought.