Toronto’s New Music 101 — A successful model for Education and Outreach

Part of the “Pub­lic Engage­ment Suc­cess Sto­ries” series

Toron­to’s New Music 101 is a shin­ing suc­cess sto­ry about how new music can move beyond the usu­al spaces to reach a broad­er community.

New Music 101 was orig­i­nal­ly part of the Cana­di­an Music Cen­tre’s New Music in New Places series in 2011. But for the last two years, the Toron­to New Music Alliance has con­tin­ued the pro­gram, with its third sea­son just completed.

From the begin­ning, New Music 101 was envi­sioned as a con­ver­gence of music prac­ti­tion­ers offer­ing engag­ing, edu­ca­tion­al pre­sen­ta­tions to new audi­ences. Hav­ing artists lead dis­cus­sions is impor­tant because it brings the pub­lic clos­er to what the artists do, giv­ing the pub­lic a larg­er con­text to bet­ter con­nect with their music.

Cre­at­ing more acces­si­ble pub­lic edu­ca­tion about new music in Toron­to has proven to be a suc­cess­ful way to build audi­ence.  It has been thrilling to see audi­ences from the New Music 101 ses­sions attend­ing con­certs, or buy­ing CDs fea­tur­ing con­tem­po­rary music.  Each ses­sion man­ages to spark curios­i­ty among listeners.

But how did New Music 101 find this success?

Loca­tion and part­ner­ship is key:

New Music 101 col­lab­o­rates with the Toron­to Pub­lic Library who hosts the series at their flag­ship loca­tion, the Toron­to Ref­er­ence Library. This library is very busy with dozens of activ­i­ties each month, so it gets the atten­tion of many peo­ple. The loca­tion puts New Music 101 in touch with a whole new audi­ence, most of whom are unfa­mil­iar with the music pre­sent­ed. Check out the pro­gram on the Toron­to Pub­lic Library web site.

Pro­gram­ming approach is also important:

The series always fea­tures new par­tic­i­pants and puts togeth­er inter­est­ing and dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions to ensure it con­tin­ues to pro­vide a dis­cov­ery expe­ri­ence for every­one involved.  Check out the season’s pro­gram here.

Music crit­ic John Ter­auds host­ed each event this year, and he proved to be a great asset.  Apart from bring­ing excep­tion­al knowl­edge, skill, and per­son­al­i­ty, Ter­auds act­ed as a bridge to new audi­ences.  For exam­ple, he was able to pro­vide addi­tion­al con­text when dif­fi­cult or obscure con­cepts were brought up in a pre­sen­ta­tion, and he also prompt­ed the pre­sen­ters to effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate their ideas. Check out some cov­er­age on Teraud’s blog – here and here.

So often we, the artists jus­ti­fy our music amongst our­selves or with arts coun­cils. New Music 101 instead lets us con­nect with the larg­er com­mu­ni­ty of which we are a part and grants us greater aware­ness as well as vis­i­bil­i­ty. This is a cru­cial step if we are to increase our relevance.

When we extrap­o­late from our reg­u­lar con­cert pro­gram­ming while explor­ing new spaces, audi­ences, and col­lab­o­ra­tors, our music gains greater momentum.

by Matthew Fava with Emi­ly Hall


David Het­her­ing­ton per­forms at New Music 101’s April 22, 2013 event. Pho­to cred­it: Daniel Foley

Direct arti­cle link: Toron­to’s New Music 101 — A suc­cess­ful mod­el for Edu­ca­tion and Outreach
Return to full Bul­letin – may 2013