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Government of Canada Launches Program to Provide Additional Support for Cultural Workers in the Live Performing Arts Sector
GATINEAU, February 1, 2022
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the recovery of the arts and culture sector, which has been among the hardest hit sectors throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of renewed shutdowns and public health restrictions due to the emergence of the Omicron variant have been particularly severe for the live performance sector, negatively affecting the livelihoods of the artists, technicians and other skilled cultural workers who bring live performances to stages across the country. The Government continues to stand by these talented workers through these challenging times.
Today, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the launch of the Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund. This new temporary funding program will provide $60 million to help workers in the live performance sector. It will finance initiatives led and delivered by organizations in the sector to directly support independent and self-employed workers (gig workers) in the live performance sector.
The Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund will fund initiatives that:
- provide short-term financial assistance to those experiencing economic hardship and requiring emergency support; and/or
- provide workers with guidance, information, and professional development opportunities in areas such as financial management, mental health and well-being, and career transition.
By working with organizations that support the live performance sector, the Government of Canada will leverage industry expertise and capacity to best address the specific needs of its cultural workers and maximize the number of people who will benefit.
This funding opportunity is available to eligible applicants such as artist unions, guilds, associations, service organizations, benevolent foundations, or Indigenous organizations that are mandated to represent the interests of cultural workers in live performance occupations, including musicians, actors, directors, choreographers, designers and technicians.
Organizations receiving funding will be responsible for designing their own initiatives, which may include enhancements to existing programs and activities, as well as new initiatives that align with the funding program’s policy objective of directly supporting individuals.
This will provide much-needed relief to our hard-working live performance artists and cultural workers until we can get together again and experience amazing live performances in communities across the country.
Funding eligibility requirements are available on the Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund webpage. The deadline to apply is March 4, 2022.
2022 SUPPORTS NECESSARY TO SUSTAIN THE LIVE PERFORMANCE INDUSTRY
As a coalition of Canada’s entertainment unions, representing performers, musicians, designers, and behind-the-scenes artisans and technicians, we would like to express our gratitude for the Government of Canada’s efforts to support our industry and the people who work within it. Our coalition is comprised of the IATSE, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, and the Associated Designers of Canada. We represent over 50,000 workers across the entertainment industry.
We are writing today to ensure you are aware of the gravity of the situation facing the live performance industry and its workers. The industry has been reeling from blow after blow, and the postponement of Hamilton at the National Arts Centre followed by the permanent closure of Mirvish’s Come From Away has been like a death knell sounding across the country. This new wave of closures is all the more difficult because live performance workers had finally started to get back to work and allowed themselves some optimism. We would remind you of the Liberal campaign promise to Launch a new Arts and Culture Recovery Program that would match ticket sales for performing arts, live theatres, and other cultural venues to compensate for reduced capacity. Such a program might have helped to avert these closures and others. In addition, countries such as the UK and Australia introduced funding that does not exclude commercial producers, and both non-profit and commercial live performance (including Come From Away) in those countries has continued to operate.
The financial contribution of the arts is a significant one in every city in which a venue is located, and these venues must be supported. For Come From Away alone, Mirvish Productions stated that more than one million patrons saw the show during its run – February 13, 2018 to March 13, 2020 and December 15 to 22, 2021, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Broken down:
- Box office sales surpassed of $115 Million including over $15 Million in HST
- Estimated economic impact to the Toronto economy of $920 Million
- The show created 9,000 employment weeks for cast, stage managers, musicians, crew members and front of house team members
The support required is two-fold. Theatres and venues need support so that once this is over, they’re still around to mount productions and create the thousands of arts jobs required to do so, and workers need income support to survive until those productions can safely be mounted. Many live performance workers have been without income since the CRB ended on October 23, 2021. We have been working directly with everyone at Canadian Heritage since early November. We have briefed MPs in all political parties and provided information to Finance Canada.
This fourth wave is having devastating effects on the mental health of our members. We are doing our best to provide them with this type of support, but we cannot pay the rent or put food on the table for the thousands affected across the country. These workers need the Government of Canada to step up.
We were therefore pleased when Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced a temporary expansion of the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to include workers affected by 50% venue capacity limits. Applications for the expanded benefit opened December 30. While we are pleased that some support has been rolled out, there are still issues with the program that it is imperative be addressed.
Recommendations to Modify the CWLB for Live Performance Workers:
- ISSUE: The live performance industry will not be up and running by February 12, the date that the expanded CWLB is set to terminate. The longer workers are without support, the more of them we will lose. Those newer to the industry have not yet established deep roots and leave more readily. These workers tend to be younger and more culturally diverse, and this loss is a serious one for the industry.
RECOMMENDATION: The expanded CWLB must be extend beyond Feb 12 – until the Performing Arts Worker Resilience Fund is launched (be that April 1 or earlier/later.)
- ISSUE: As we understand it, if someone was out of work before capacity limits were introduced, they do not qualify for the CWLB. If they were lucky enough to be working before capacity limits were introduced, many largely subsisted on CERB throughout 2020, so demonstrating a 50% drop from 2020 income could be problematic. This unfairly penalizes live performance workers.
RECOMMENDATION: Live performance workers should qualify, regardless of work status immediately prior to capacity limits. Further, if applicants must demonstrate a 50% decrease in average weekly income to be eligible, it should be based on their 2019 income, not on their 2020 income.
- ISSUE: CWLB benefits are retroactive to Oct 24 – the day after the CRB ended – but although mot live performance CRB recipients had no income since October 23, retroactivity only comes into play for the time period since 50% capacity limit restrictions were put in place. For every province (aside from Saskatchewan, which has no such limits), that wasn’t until mid to late December, which leaves most of these workers with roughly seven weeks of having had no income at all.
RECOMMENDATION: Given the long timeframe required to mount a production (weeks to months), live performance workers should be able to claim CWLB retroactive to October 24, when they first lost their CRB support, but the majority still had no work.
- ISSUE: Saskatchewan workers are not able to access support through the CWLB because that provincial government has not instituted capacity limits, but capacity limits are not the only COVID inhibitor to live production. For example, the Globe Theatre in Regina has no shows scheduled until February 16. Shows get cancelled or postponed not just because of crowd restrictions, but also because of audience hesitation to attend, producers unwilling to take on the risk and expense of mounting a show that they don’t know for sure will open, or positive COVID cases in the cast or crew.
RECOMMENDATION: Saskatchewan live performance workers are still suffering like their counterparts in other provinces and should not be penalized because their provincial government has not introduced capacity limits. These workers should be eligible for CWLB.
Recommendations to Support Live Performance Venues/Producers*:
* We must clearly state that all theatres/producers are in crisis – regardless of not-for-profit or commercial status – and as in other countries, commercial theatres/producers must be included in assistance programs.
- ISSUE: The wage subsidy programs (the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and/or the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program) only allows live performance employers to receive subsidies for EMPLOYEES, which does not contemplate that the majority of the wages they pay out is for gig workers, who are not eligible.
RECOMMENDATION: Wage subsidy programs should be based on those listed on payroll rather than traditional employee status. This incentivizes employers to produce shows by providing them with the stability to plan and start building shows while removing some of the inherent risk. With more workers actually working to build and mount these shows, it would also serve to relieve some of pressure on an enhanced CWLB.
- ISSUE: Designing (including lighting, sets, costumes, sound, etc.), building (including sets, props, murals, costumes, wigs, rigging, electronics, etc.), rehearsing (musicians, actors, dancers, choreography, etc.), marketing/promoting (including ticket sales), and mounting (all aspects together, from loading in, to dressing actors, to scene changes, to “flying” actors, etc.) a show is typically a months-long process and is risky at the best of times. With the uncertainty of COVID, the risk is at an all-time high.
RECOMMENDATION: Provide any stability and incentive possible. In addition to modifying the wage subsidy, other measures could include a ticket subsidy (like that mentioned in the Liberal platform, and similar to that undertaken by the Quebec provincial government), or through cancellation insurance for COVID closures/postponements, similar to what was done for the domestic film industry (and has been successfully implemented in the UK and Australia). Program design should involve consultation with a wide range of producers and stakeholders.
- ISSUE: Almost all live performance industry supports have been left to the federal government to implement and finance. This is neither fair nor balanced.
RECOMMENDATION: While we have lobbied – and will continue to lobby – for provincial assistance for the industry, we urge the Finance Minister to press her provincial counterparts to partner and offer their own support programs for the industry. Both levels of government must be part of the solution.
- ISSUE: US states such as Illinois, New York, and Louisiana have implemented a live production tax credit. These measures have had a noticeable negative impact on Canada’s theatre industry, most particularly affecting southern Ontario. Canada has lost out on a number of shows, which no longer build or do long, pre-Broadway runs, resulting in thousands of job losses for Canadians.
RECOMMENDATION: As a long-term solution to bolster the theatrical sector, Canada should implement tax credit programs similar to those already in place for the film & television sector. The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit and the Foreign Service Film or Video Tax Credit programs have been incredibly successful in promoting and developing the Canadian motion picture and television industry. These tax credits are based on quantifiable labour expenditures and established infrastructures exist for ensuring compliance. Furthermore, they operate in conjunction with other financial support mechanisms such as the Canadian Television Fund and so a live performance tax credit should be compatible with other funders such as the Canada Council for the Arts. The cost of administering these programs is minimal and so the creation of a similar tax credit for live performance should not incur substantial administration costs or needless infrastructure by the Government.
The live performance industry and its workers need immediate support. We urge you to act, and to act quickly. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for all your efforts and thank you for your consideration. We would welcome the opportunity for further discussion.
John M. Lewis IATSE email@example.com / 416-362-3569
Arden Ryshpan CAEA firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-867-9165
Alan Willaert CFM email@example.com / 416-391-5161
Ken MacKenzie ADC firstname.lastname@example.org / 647-835-6023
2021 Music Family Scholarship Deadline Extended
MPTF is excited to be EXTENDING the deadline to July 1, 2021.
Here is the link to the application:
Here are also a few Q&A’s that members may find helpful.
Q: My child is going to be a junior in college this year, can they still apply?
A: Yes! Any student that is enrolled in higher education for the fall of 2021 is eligible to apply. This includes graduate and PhD programs, as well as trade schools.
Q: I won the scholarship last year, can I still apply?
A: Yes! We welcome anyone who won last year to apply for this scholarship.
Q: My child is not studying music, are they still eligible for this scholarship?
A: Yes! We do not have any restrictions on what the student is studying.
MPTF Music Family Scholarship 2021
The Music Performance Trust Fund’s 2021 Music Family Scholarship
OVERVIEW A scholarship fund utilizing the assets of the recording industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund (“MPTF”) was established in June 2020 to encourage the children of professional musicians to pursue higher education and to become leaders in their chosen fields. In the second year of such fund, the MPTF intends to grant $100,000 in scholarship funds. Scholarships will be awarded based on the verification of all required information submitted by each candidate and the strength of each candidate’s essay and video submission.
TIMELINE The application deadline is 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at email@example.com. Semi-finalists will be selected by August 1, and finalists announced on or about September 1. Recipients will be notified by email and letter.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or https://musicpf.org/scholarship-application/
P2 Visa Update – Clarification for musicians returning from the US.
THIS IS NOT AN EXEMPTION LETTER
OIC 50: 2021-0313
Dear Alan Willaert,
Thank you for your correspondence seeking an exemption from the COVID-19 related travel restrictions on behalf of performers travelling to the US for work. Please accept our apologies for our delayed response.
The Government of Canada implemented restrictions, testing requirements and quarantine measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Travel plans could be subject to significant change as new measures come into effect.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is of the opinion that the performers may be exempt from pre-entry or arrival testing, or quarantine requirements. PHAC’s opinion is based on the Emergency Orders as they currently exist.
COVID-19 Testing, Hotel and Quarantine Requirements
The Emergency Order, referred to as Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations (updated April 21, 2021) requires all travellers, regardless of citizenship, to provide proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test result prior to entry into Canada. Upon entry, all travellers are also required to take a test on arrival (at the airport or land border crossing), and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period.
Air travellers, with limited exceptions, must provide evidence of a prepaid, three-night stay at a Government-Authorized Accommodation (hotel) prior to their entry. Travellers need to stay at their reserved accommodation while they await the results of their arrival test, and are also required to pay for their hotel and associated costs for food, cleaning and security. Answers to frequently asked questions about the mandatory hotel stopover can be found here.
There are certain exemptions from testing and quarantine, but these are limited to minimize the spread of COVID-19. As per the Order, the following persons are exempt:
- Persons who must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment, including critical infrastructure workers (Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing), provided they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the first 14 days after their entry to Canada
In order to be exempt upon entry, travellers must demonstrate they are travelling across the border to their normal place of employment (i.e. same company, same work site, etc.) from their residence on a regular basis (i.e. daily, weekly, or following a rotational schedule). Occasional travel to attend meetings or other work-related activities does not meet this group exemption.
Based on this information, the performers may qualify for an exemption from pre-entry or arrival testing, or quarantine requirements, including the three-night hotel stopover, provided they demonstrate the regularity and frequency of their work related travel.
As per this Order, exempt travellers must wear a mask in public settings, even if physical distancing can be maintained. In addition, they must maintain a list of all close contacts during the 14 days post-entry into Canada. If symptoms develop or further guidance is needed, travellers are encouraged to contact their local public health authority.
Please note that travellers do not require a letter of interpretation from PHAC in order to be exempt from Emergency Orders. It is the traveller’s responsibility to demonstrate that they qualify for an exemption from mandatory testing or quarantine measures. Government representatives at the border use the information available at the time of entry to determine what instructions will be provided to a traveller regarding their public health obligations. Further details on documents needed can be found here under the heading “Who is exempt from quarantine”.
Travellers are advised to refer to the following driving or flying to Canada checklists to understand all the travel requirements, and the following Travel web page for additional information related to testing, exemptions, quarantine requirements and ArriveCAN. (https://travel.gc.ca/covid-19-travel.)
We hope that this information assists you in understanding the Government of Canada’s position at this time.
Emergency Orders and Policy Interpretation Team
Public Health Agency of Canada
Équipe des décrets d’urgence et interprétation des politiques
Agence de la santé publique du Canada
UPDATE: CFM Meets with Government to Discuss CERB Repayment Letters & Artist Eligibility
The CFM is writing to advise that the House of Commons petition found here: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-3066 , calls on the Government of Canada to retroactively permit self-employed Canadians to apply their gross, pre-tax income before business expenses, when determining their CERB eligibility. Please share this with your fellow musicians ASAP. The petition closes for signatures January 23, 2021.
USCIS Increases Premium Processing Fee from $1440 to $2500
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will increase fees for premium processing, effective Oct. 19, as required by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act, Pub. L. No. 116-159, signed into law on Oct. 1. The USCIS premium processing service allows petitioners to pay an additional filing fee to expedite the adjudication of certain forms, generally within 15 days. The Act included the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act, which requires USCIS to establish and collect additional premium processing fees, and to use those additional funds for expanded purposes.
Pub. L. No. 116-159 increases the fee for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, from $1,440 to $2,500, for all filings (except those from petitioners filing Form I-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker, requesting H-2B or R-1 non-immigrant status. The premium processing fee for petitioners filing Form I-129 requesting H-2B or R-1 non-immigrant status is increasing from $1,440 to $1,500. This applies to seasonal Agricultural Workers and Religious Workers)
Any Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 must include the new fee amount. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after Oct. 19 with the incorrect filing fee, we will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee. For filings sent by commercial courier (such as UPS, FedEx and DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.
For more information, please visit https://cfmusicians.afm.org/news/uscis-increases-premium-processing-fee or contact Kaitlyn email@example.com or Jill firstname.lastname@example.org in our Artist Immigration Department.
Transitioning from CERB to the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The Canada Recovery Benefit will provide eligible workers with $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 26 weeks for those who have stopped working and who are not eligible for EI, or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in two-week periods.
P2 Visa Fee Increase on Pause
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prevents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from implementing fee increases and new forms, which were originally planned to go into effect on October 2, 2020. USCIS has acknowledged the injunction but its webpage for the Form I-129 does not yet reflect this news, nor have the new Form I-129O and I-129MISC been released yet. For now, when filing for O and P guest artists and continue to file with the $460 filing fee. CFM petitioners are monitoring the USCIS website for the very latest information and version of forms before completing and submitting a visa petition.
In other USCIS fee news, the signed legislation that ensures the U.S. government is funded through December 11, 2020 included a section that authorizes USCIS to increase and expand the Premium Processing Service (PPS) fees for certain immigration-related applications. In most cases, the current $1,440 fee for Premium Processing is now authorized to increase to $2,500 and the O and P guest artist visas would fall into this category. The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish and collect a premium fee for “any other immigration benefit type that the Secretary deems appropriate for premium processing,” and premium fees may be adjusted every two years.
The bill directs the Secretary to “develop and implement processes to ensure that the availability of premium processing, or its expansion to additional immigration benefit requests, does not result in an increase in processing times for immigration benefit requests not designated for premium processing or an increase in regular processing of immigration benefit requests so designated.” However, it has long been the experience of arts petitioners that unexpected and lengthy processing delays of regularly filed petitions will necessitate upgrading to PPS.
It’s not yet known when a new PPS fee might go into effect and whether legal challenges may be filed to prevent their implementation. Until USCIS details its plans for increasing PPS fees, petitioners should continue to file the Form I-907 with the current fee of $1,440.
If you have recently submitted a P2 with the new fee – please email Jill Leger & Kaitlyn Vleming – email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org (or call Jill in the office Friday, October 2; Kaitlyn on Monday, October 5).
For more info: