The Province of Ontario has announced a $45-million fund that seeks to position the province as a leader in the audio production and recording industry while creating jobs and expanding the number of live performances.
The program further seeks to increase production and distribution of Canadian music and to promote Ontario’s music industry both in Canada and around the world. It would also help the industry innovate, invest and take advantage of opportunities in the global music industry.
“Music is an integral part of Ontario’s cultural landscape and an innovative economic driver, creating jobs and stimulating growth,” explained Michael Chan, The Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport in a media release. “[The Ontario Music Fund] represent a significant commitment by Ontario to strengthen our music industry, promote tourism and enhance our province’s profile as a global music leader and premier music destination.”
“Our proposed province-wide fund would support new digital and record production,” said Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance. “It would encourage distribution of Canadian music and help establish Ontario’s production studios as global leaders in the business of master recordings. This would also create more job opportunities for artists, and the vast music industry that promotes them.”
According to Denelle Balfour of the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport, Ontario-based music companies would be eligible for funding under the proposed Ontario Music Fund to support “sound recording and production in Ontario; marketing and promotion of Canadian artists and sound recordings; live performances both in Ontario and abroad; and business development.”
“The OMF would help Ontario’s support for music better align with current industry trends and priorities, capitalize on opportunities for growth, leverage strategic opportunities, ensure consistency with best practices in other jurisdictions, and streamline and simplify the application and review process,” said Balfour.
Balfour also noted that the OMF would advance the Ontario government’s Live Music Strategy by “providing dedicated and increased support for live performances and touring opportunities, helping to grow audiences both in Ontario and abroad for Canadian music developed in Ontario.”
When asked how the OMF would benefit Ontario musicians and bands directly, Balfour explained that the OMF intends to strengthen the music industry in Ontario by “supporting music companies (including labels, artist management firms, and industry associations) and enhancing infrastructure throughout the province.”
Balfour noted that artists are still able to continue to receive direct funding in Ontario through the Ontario Arts Council and nationally through the Canada Council for the Arts and FACTOR.
Local blues-rock duo The Blue Stones’ guitar player and main vocalist Tarek Jafar expressed excitement at the announcement of the new music fund.
“The thing that is the most impressive to me is that the government is noticing that Canadians can be heavy hitters when it comes to music and they’re noticing that the quality of music coming out of Ontario is something to support,” said Jafar. “It’s nice that they’ve noticed that and that they want to make that bigger.”
Jafar noted that the new funding would ideally make it a “little easier for a band to get off the ground financially” – whether it be through helping with touring or audio production.
“You can become a Canadian musician and tour around Canada and become quite famous in Canada, but if they want to go further, it always seems that they have to go to the States,” said Jafar. “That might be because there’s not enough of a market or industry here, but this boost can really put Canada on the map.”
Jafar believes that Ontario is full of “great and hardworking musicians [who] almost put their hearts and souls into everything they do … they live what it is to be a recording, touring musician. The people here just work so hard and they’re so passionate.”
The province intends to launch the OMF by Fall 2013 and Balfour explained that the ministry still needs to consult with music industry associations, record labels, industry experts and artists on the OMF program design, delivery and administration.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.