Doug Ford touts new Toronto music festival at debate on the arts
Mayoral candidate wants to emulate success of Austin, Tex., South By South East festival
Doug Ford said Monday he will work to bring a "world-class" music festival to Toronto if he's elected mayor on Oct. 27.
Ford made the statement Monday during a midday candidates' debate held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and attended by a crowd comprised mainly of arts professionals.
"We are well on our way to bringing a world-class music festival to Toronto," said Ford. He touted the work of Mayor Rob Ford, who he replaced as a mayoralty candidate, in laying the ground work to help strengthen the city's music industry. He touted Rob Ford's trip to Austin, Tex., last October as the first step in helping to strengthen the city's music scene.
That remark triggered some eye-rolling and a few rebukes from his opponents on the podium.
Morgan Baskin, a 19-year-old whose candidacy is devoted to promoting youth issues, took issue with Ford's plan.
"We have several festivals and we should grow these, not start a new one," she said.
Ari Goldkind said Toronto has successful music festivals and is already a superior music city.
"I hear a lot about Austin and how we should be copying Austin. I think they should be copying us," Goldkind said.
Ford maintained festivals such as Austin's South By South West and Austin City Limits are the kind of event he'd like to see in Toronto.
North By North East, a sister festival to Austin's South By South West, responded to Ford's suggestion to bring an outdoor music festival to the city with a tweet saying, "Hi Doug" — a reminder that it has been operating as a music festival for 19 years in Toronto.
A tame debate this time
Ford's comparisons to Austin elicited some negative reaction from the crowd, causing him to suggest he should have brought "more friends" to Monday's debate.
The remark was likely a reference to last week's debate, Ford's first since he became a last-minute entry into the mayor's race, when his brother Mayor Rob Ford dropped out to undergo cancer treatment.
That event, held closer to the Fords' support base in northwest Toronto, was a rowdy affair marked by shouting and at times abusive language.
This time there was no shouting and no noticeable Ford supporters in the crowd. The debate's moderator Damian Abraham, singer for acclaimed Toronto band F--ked up, praised the candidates for their civility.
"They had prepared me for the worst," he joked.
All candidates spoke warmly about their love and support for the arts. Goldkind said the arts "are worth paying for" while Olivia Chow said arts are "the bedrock of our community."
John Tory, who polls suggest is the front-runner ahead of the Oct. 27 vote, said arts are "part of who we are and what we are."
A key topic was how to provide Toronto's arts community with a more stable source of funding. Tory suggested a portion of the sale of city owned buildings be diverted for arts and said council should clear red tape that he said often act "as road blocks" to music promoters.
Chow spoke about the collective fear of electronic music among local politicians — electronic music parties were banned earlier this year from city property on the exhibition grounds.