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Canada: $16m fund launched for live music workers

A multi-million-dollar fund has been launched to help freelance live music professionals in Canada bounce back after the pandemic.

The Live Music Workers Fund (LMWF) was announced last week by The Unison Fund, the charity providing counselling and emergency relief services to Canada’s music community.

Backed by an allocation of more than CA$16 million from the government of Canada through the Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund (CPAWRF), the LMWF will aim to help freelancers weather the continuing challenges and difficulties created by the pandemic.

Qualified independent and self-employed workers in the live music sector can apply for a one-time lump-sum payment of $2,500.

To be eligible, workers should work in one of the following music industry fields, including: artist, artist manager or management company, booking agent, composer, concert photographer, concert recording engineer, consultant, DJ, event production/festival, marketing/communications.

Merchandiser, musician, production company, promoter, publisher, publicist/public relations, retailer (instruments and supplies), songwriter, stagehand/roadie, talent Buyer, technician, tour management/operator, venue staff, and videographer are also eligible fields.

“This funding will help live music professionals jumpstart their careers during the third year of the pandemic”

Unison says eligible applicants must have earned a minimum of 55% of their income from music-related activity for at least two consecutive years (prior to the pandemic).

“We sincerely thank the government of Canada and the honorable Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian heritage, for their support and recognition,” says Unison Fund executive director Amanda Power.

“Our organisation is grateful to be named as a recipient of this funding which will be used to help support Canadian live music professionals sustain their career amid the continuing challenges and difficulties created by the pandemic.

“Over the next year this investment will go towards the future of live music workers and the re-establishment and empowerment of the live music scene in Canada. We look forward to working in line with many other music industry organisations across the country, to disburse this crucial funding.”

Erin Benjamin, chair, board of directors, The Unison Fund, adds: “The Canadian live music industry has been decimated by Covid-19 and this funding will help live music professionals jumpstart their careers during the third year of the pandemic.

“It may take many years for the live music industry to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, but Unison will continue to be there to provide financial and mental health assistance with the challenges so many face.”

Applicants in need who do not qualify for funding under the CPAWRF guidelines of being a live music worker will continue to be supported through the existing Unison Industry Assistance Fund, aided by fundraising initiatives and direct donations to Unison.

 


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US venues file lawsuits over rejected Covid relief

More than 60 lawsuits have been filed over the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG), the $16 billion aid launched by the US federal government to help live venues survive the pandemic.

A year after the US Small Business Administration (SBA) rolled out the Covid-19 relief programme, the agency is facing dozens of pending lawsuits from companies who say they were unfairly denied millions in relief, according to Billboard.

According to the aggrieved venues, SBA has refused their requests without good reason or a proper explanation, putting particular companies at a huge disadvantage over rivals who have received aid. Attorneys involved in the cases claim that rates of refusal under SVOG “significantly exceed typical government grant programmes.”

Concert Investor LLC, a Tennessee firm that has produced shows for the likes of Twenty One pilots, Little Big Town, O.A.R., is among the companies that have filed lawsuits.

Citing a 94% drop in revenue during the pandemic, the company sought nearly $5 million in aid under SVOG. However, the SBA decided the company didn’t meet the criteria to be a concert producer, saying the company “at best” merely “serves the needs” of artists by providing lighting and sound tech.

At least 33 lawsuits were still pending in federal court as of last week, according to a court filing by the SBA

In a motion filed in court Monday (2 May), Concert Investor’s attorneys asked a federal judge to grant the company a final judgment in its case, arguing the SBA had “ignored” ample evidence about its eligibility and had unfairly awarded grants to direct competitors who provide the exact same services.

“This disparate treatment has placed Concert Investor at a severe and worsening competitive disadvantage relative to other concert producers that can use their SVOG awards to restore and grow their businesses while Concert Investor is deprived of the federal assistance for which it too qualifies,” the company wrote. SBA will soon file its own brief, and the judge will rule on the case in the months ahead.

Some of the lawsuits, however, maybe in the process of getting resolved. Last week, the SBA said it would reconsider refusing $497,000 in aid to Superfan Live Inc., which offers VIP experiences at concerts from artists like Bon Jovi, Genesis, and Journey. The agency asked a federal judge for extra time so that it could “thoroughly examine the allegations in the complaint prior to issuing a new decision”.

At least 33 lawsuits were still pending in federal court as of last week, according to a court filing by the SBA.

Since it debuted in April 2021, the SVOG has handed out just over $11 billion to more than 13,000 businesses in a first wave; a second round of supplemental grants awarded an additional $3.4 billion to more than 9,000 businesses.

The SVOG, also known as the Save Our Stages Act, is part of a $1.9 billion American Rescue Package which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2021.

 


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