News Release
August 10, 2020

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 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.

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.

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 corporation 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.

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.

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“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. 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.”
– Mayor John Tory

“Toronto’s rich history of Black music has enriched our city’s culture and helped create one of the world’s best music scenes. Thanks to musicians such as Drake and the Weeknd, Toronto’s global identity is inseparably linked with hip hop and R&B. Today’s announcement will help encourage and sustain the next wave of Black talent and leadership.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic Development and Culture committee and member of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee

“This partnership supports the Toronto Music Strategy and it is another step towards correcting the music industry’s historic under-investment in the development of Black talent, especially in senior leadership roles. I and the members of TMAC look forward to working with Advance to make these critical changes.”
– Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York), Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee

“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.”
– Vivian Barclay, Music Publishing Exec and Board member of Advance

“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.”
– Gary Slaight, President and CEO Slaight Communications Inc.

“The advancement of Black professionals in Canada’s music sector is an essential and long-overdue priority. 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.”
– Jeffrey Remedios, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Canada

Advance, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective, is leading the change in developing an infrastructure for the betterment, upliftment and retention of Black people in the business sector of the Canadian music industry. Serving as a unified voice for Black people working within these sectors of the Canadian music industry, Advance creates conditions for long-term success by addressing racial equality and inclusivity through four areas: Advocacy, Mentorship, Community Outreach and Business Development and Entrepreneurship. By holding the corporate, private and government sectors accountable, Advance is committed to building a more equitable Canadian music industry that grants Canada’s Black music communities a fair and valued voice in a consistently growing music nation.

Universal Music Canada is Canada’s leading music company, engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising, and audiovisual content. Home to the most comprehensive catalogue of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMC is committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship in broadening opportunities for our artists on both the domestic and world stages as well as creating new experiences for fans. Universal Music Canada is part of Universal Music Group, the world leader in music-based entertainment.

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. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media Relations