[URBAN NOTE] “Music City: Toronto’s creative brain drain”
NOW Toronto‘s Ian Gormley argues that rising real estate prices threaten to push the Torontonians who drive the music industry out of the city.
A recent study by the Martin Prosperity Institute illustrates the financial quandary local musicians face. Using data from SOCAN and the Toronto Music Advisory Council, we mapped out the epicentre of the local music economy – the 24 neighbourhoods with the highest concentration of working songwriters and composers per capita, and of music industry infrastructure like venues, rehearsal spaces, studios and record labels – and then compared it to average home prices across the GTA, as per Market Watch stats. (See Taylor Blake’s interactive map above.)
In Toronto, Canada’s second-most expensive real estate market, the average home goes for over $700,000, a figure that’s more than doubled in the past 20 years. A one-bedroom apartment will set you back about $1,400 a month, according to a recent PadMapper report. Meanwhile, an estimated 80 per cent of Canada’s music industry is based here, making Toronto a magnet for bands looking to further their art and career.
Though the primary sites for music creation and performance in the city have shifted westward and eastward in recent years, our data show that musicians still cluster along a stretch running through the downtown core. Almost a third of them – about 9 per cent of Toronto’s total population – live in west-end neighbourhoods like Dovercourt, Rua Açores, Parkdale and High Park. A further 20 per cent cluster in pockets of East York, along the Danforth and in the Beach.
The cost of a home in these neighbourhoods falls into the middle-range bracket, but those areas are surrounded by higher-end real estate zones. Previously, when rents spiked, musicians were able move to cheaper neighbourhoods. Today, creators are becoming boxed in as prices in surrounding areas also soar. And while there are relatively cheaper pockets farther into the suburbs, musicians aren’t opting to relocate there. Many would rather either tough it out downtown or move to, say, Hamilton.