We recently reported on the $500,000 funding cut by the Conservative provincial government to Sistema, a not for profit organization that provides music education to at-risk youth in Toronto. Sistema has been forced to seek fundraising opportunities to make up the funding shortfall. Thankfully, the city of Toronto and its musical community are stepping up to help.
To refresh your memory, in late August, just three weeks before the start of Sistema Toronto programming, The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport announced that the Government of Ontario cut the $500,000 in funding approved back in May. The government’s decision meant that Sistema lost more than half of their budget, preventing them from helping families living in poverty, and leaving 60 students on the waiting list with little hope of joining the program this year.
When news of the devastating budget cuts reached them, local band Goodnight, Sunrise immediately offered to donate their time and talents to making Sistema whole again. The band met with Sistema’s Toronto team and came up with the perfect plan: to produce a show that brings together local talent, Sistema Toronto students, and members of the community to help close the funding gap. And when you bring together talent, passion and drive for a great cause, you know you’ve got this. So that’s what they called their event.
We Got This: A Benefit Concert for Sistema Toronto will take place on Monday, October 22 at The Great Hall. The event will be all-ages so students, their families and the community can all take part. The Great Hall has come on board as the venue sponsor, waiving their rental fees to help raise funds. Alt-indie teen queen, Jules will open the night with songs from her recently released debut album People Watching. Juno-nominated artist, Scott Helman, who will be joining Vance Joy on tour later this year, will show his support with a rare acoustic set. Toronto favorites, The Rathburns are getting the band back together just for this fundraiser (they broke up earlier this year). And of course, the band who helped create this entire event, Goodnight Sunrise will bring their indie party rock tunes to the Great Hall Stage. And all proceeds will go toward Sistema Toronto’s free after-school music education and social development program for at-risk kids.
When asked about why they wanted to help, this is what Goodnight Sunrise’s Vanessa Vakharia & David Kochberg had to say: “We were shocked and frustrated by the news that our government cut Sistema’s funding, and we wanted to help in any way we could. We wouldn’t be in a band today if not for having music lessons as kids, and every student deserves that opportunity no matter what their financial position. Learning music is so much more than just developing a new skill – programs like Sistema’s help kids develop self-confidence, a creative outlet to deal with difficult challenges in life, and most importantly a stronger sense of community.”
Understandably, the folks at Sistema are thrilled with the support they’re seeing from the community. From Christie Gray, Executive Director, Sistema Toronto: “We are grateful to the community for showing Sistema Toronto students and families that they care. When we learned that the Government of Ontario would not be moving ahead with our approved funding, our team had to work together and find creative ways to ensure we could keep our promise to the at-risk kids we work with. The community raised over $35,000 and we’re still working to recover the rest of the funds. It means so much to us that musicians are coming together to help us, as they know more than anyone the transformative effect access to music education can have.”
If you’re a music lover, and more importantly, if you love this city and the people in it, come on down and join us at the Great Hall on October 22nd, in support of Sistema. Together, you know we’ve got this. If you can’t make the show, you can donate directly to Sistema here.
Get your tickets now at the link below.
We Got This: A Benefit Show for Sistema Toronto (an all ages event)
Date: Monday, October 22, 2018
Location: The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street
Tickets: $25, available via Eventbrite