Toronto will put $200,000 into helping a music mentorship program for underprivileged youth move into their new home – a growing arts community at the city’s waterfront.
“The Remix Project” will join the likes of Manifesto, Artscape, OCAD and George Brown at the Daniels Waterfront City of the Arts down on Queens Quay and Lower Jarvis next year.
The new investment from the city’s Economic and Cultural Development Department is part of the city’s Music Strategy and will help the group expand its programming in a facility surrounded by like-minded people.
Once complete, The Remix Project will move into the fifth floor of the Daniels Corporation condominium tower, on the grounds where the storied dance music nightclub The Guvernment once stood.
Coun. Josh Colle, the chair of the city’s Music Advisory Council, said that creating “physical music hubs” has always been a part of the city’s plan to “protect, promote and invest” in Toronto’s music community.
The Remix Project, he said, is a perfect addition to the growing creative hub.
“The Remix Project is already one of Toronto’s most important music hubs, where music creators collaborate and inspire one another,” Colle told reporters on Friday.
“Here at Daniels Waterfront, The Remix Project will be able to further develop in one of the city’s epicenters, providing space to rehearse, perform and deliver professional development to Toronto talents artists.”
The Remix Project was created in hopes of “leveling the playing field” for Toronto’s disadvantaged and marginalized youth, according to its website. Through a team of mentors, staff and industry professionals, the group helps young people develop and refine their creative talents while directing them on a path to employment.
“Remix is charity that started in Toronto. It was previously known as Inner City Visions, so we’ve been in the game for about 15 years,” Drex Jancar, the project’s chair and co-founder, said.
“Essentially we’re an art institute, we’re a training facility and we’re a music hub. We focus on violence prevention, promoting positive mental health and social justice.”
Jancar said the new space means they have finally have “control” over the organization’s future.
“It means that we have equity, that we’re not paying rent and that the legacy of organization will continue beyond my generation and the generations after us,” he said.
“It’s really the first step to ultimate sustainability.”
Mayor John Tory was on hand to announce the funding and stressed that financial investment in groups like the Remix Project has multi-faceted significance for major cities.
During business mission to Austin, Texas – with which Toronto is in a “music-city alliance” – Tory said he saw a “direct connection” between the city’s investment in music and entertainment and its economic strength.
“People often ask, ‘Well why is this important?’ Well it’s important for the reasons the Remix Project represents but it’s also fundamentally important for the well-being of our city. Music and arts is part of the soul of the city and part of what give us our character and makes us such an admired place. It’s also fundamentally important for the development of our economy,” he said.
“This really is the latest is a long series of chapters of the relationship between Remix and its predecessors and the city of Toronto.”
Tory recognized that The Remix Project has been around in Toronto for many years in other capacities and commended the group for its emphasis on mentoring with employment in mind.
“The program is not just showing people what is possible but it is giving them the tools, the training and, more important than anything else, the encouragement and self-confidence to build their careers in creative industries and to understand that they can be what they dream of being,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s a matter of that kind of hope and self-confidence – somebody saying, yes, we’re going to encourage you and we’re going to teach you and most of all, we’re going to stand behind you.”
The Remix Project participant and aspiring rapper Derin Falana says he agrees.
“It’s an upgrade, it’s progression. It’s amazing because these guys have done a lot for the city and to expand is an amazing feeling,” Falana said.
“It’s meant a lot to me. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been there and I’ve applied it all to what I’ve been able to create.”
According to the city, the total cost for The Remix Project’s new space and operational growth is pegged at $1.47 million.