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Ontario Government Providing $2.5 Million to Help Struggling Musicians & Music Workers

The Government of Ontario is providing a one-time $2-million grant to the Unison Fund’s Financial Assistance Program, which will provide immediately support to individual musicians and industry workers, many of whom have lost their sources of income during the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, the provincial government is providing one-time grant of $500,000 the Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) and Music Canada to support local communities who wish to develop and implement music city strategies in a post-COVID-19 economy.

The Unison Benevolent Fund’s Financial Assistance Program provides direct emergency financial assistance to members of the industry to cover necessary costs so they can continue to enrich our communities through music.

“Ontario’s music industry was among the first and hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – and will take the longest to recover,” says Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “That’s why I am proud that our government is providing support to individual musicians and local communities, so they can continue to meet their financial obligations, obtain and create sustainable opportunities, and plan for their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We sincerely thank Minister MacLeod and the Government of Ontario for their support and acknowledgement of the Unison Fund and the crucial and very necessary role the organization plays in providing critical assistance to vulnerable members of our music community in times of crisis," says Amanda Power, the executive director at Unison Fund. "In March 2020, Unison began the largest relief effort in our history and while we are no stranger to helping people during difficult times, truly nothing has reached the scope of the last twelve months. The investment will go a long way toward directly supporting those in the Ontario music community with the greatest need, as the urgency for assistance remains high.”

“As a provider of both emergency support and 24/7 free mental health counselling for the entire music industry, Unison has had and will continue to have a crucial role in making sure no one in our community falls through the cracks,” said Miranda Mulholland, artist and chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council.

Regarding the $500,000 to the CLMA and Music to support local communities in developing and implementing music city strategies, a music city is a community of any size with a vibrant music economy, where municipal governments, music stakeholders and community members work together to help artists and music businesses reach their full potential. This co-operation offers a range of benefits, including economic growth, job creation, tax revenue and cultural development.

“It has been a year, and it isn’t over, something our minister recognizes. Minister MacLeod also understands that supporting the business of live music is essential so our industry can get back to doing what they do best: creating exponential economic, social and cultural impact for artists, communities and tourism. We were just beginning to harness the true power of live music when COVID struck,” says Erin Benjamin, president & CEO of the CLMA. “With this support we will be able to take all that we have learned and continue to entrench the value our members bring to cities, towns and neighbourhoods across the province through the Music Cities lens.”

Music Canada’s ‘Music Cities’ framework will provide a model to help support communities across the province better leverage their own local live music assets. Designed with high-regarded research that identifies key strategies large and small cities have used to grow their music economies, plans will be implemented to guide the development of local policy and bylaws, and community support that focuses on artists, venues, and festivals, the wider supply chain and tourism.
“A strong, healthy music industry can generate diverse benefits for a community including economic growth, job creation, increased spending, greater tax revenues, and cultural health. Our Music Cities framework has helped communities achieve this success,” says Patrick Rogers, CEO of Music Canada. “Recent research conducted by Music Canada shows that Canadians view live music venues as economic and cultural lifelines within their communities, and they understand that the pandemic will have severe impacts on the long-term viability of the live music sector which affects Canadian culture in the long run. This announcement of support from the provincial government is timely, and necessary support.”

For those who are eligible and looking to Unison for financial assistance, information on how to access the $2 million in new funds will be shared through the Unison Fund website and social channels in the coming weeks as more details become available. Information about Unison’s financial assistance program, and FAQs are available on the Unison Fund website here. For further questions regarding the application process or eligibility, email assistance@unisonfund.ca.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast. www.canadianmusicianpodcast.com.
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