Category Archives: Updates

AFM Appoints New Vice President from Canada / L’AFM nomme un nouveau vice-président pour le Canada 

The International Executive Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Allistair Elliott to the position of AFM Vice President from Canada to complete the unexpired term of his predecessor, Alan Willaert, who passed away unexpectedly in April. For activities within Canada and its Territories, the Vice President from Canada is known as the Vice President from Canada, and Director, Canadian Affairs.

In his most recent position, Elliott has served as the AFM International Representative (IR) from Canada. As an IR for ten years, Elliott is familiar with all Canadian locals, has assisted all new officers in learning to navigate AFM/CFM protocols and practices, has represented the CFM and musicians at conferences and panels, and has represented the CFM in lobbying the Canadian government in various matters, most predominantly regarding the ease of musicians traveling on airlines with their instruments.

“Allistair is a highly respected figure in the Canadian music scene and a strong advocate for our members. His extensive experience and deep understanding of the issues facing Canadian musicians will lead us forward,” says AFM International President Tino Gagliardi. “I am confident that Allistair will provide strong leadership and representation for our Canadian members.”

Please join us in welcoming Allistair Elliott to his new role. We look forward to his contributions as director of Canadian affairs, as we continue to fight for fair contracts, strong intellectual property protections, and a thriving music industry for all musicians.

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Le Conseil exécutif international a le plaisir d’annoncer la nomination d’Allistair Elliott au poste de vice-président de l’AFM pour le Canada; il terminera le mandat inachevé de son prédécesseur, Alan Willaert, qui est décédé de manière imprévue en avril. Pour les activités au sein du Canada et de ses territoires, le vice-président pour le Canada porte le titre de vice-président pour le Canada et directeur, Affaires canadiennes.

Dans son poste le plus récent, Elliott a été représentant international de l’AFM pour le Canada. Comptant 10 ans d’expérience dans cette fonction, Elliott connaît bien toutes les sections locales canadiennes, a aidé tous les nouveaux dirigeants des sections à se familiariser avec les protocoles et les pratiques de l’AFM/FCM et représenté la FCM et les musiciens lors de conférences et de tables rondes. Il a également exercé des pressions auprès du gouvernement canadien au nom de la FCM dans divers dossiers, principalement la facilitation des voyages en avion pour les musiciens qui doivent transporter leurs instruments.

« Allistair est une figure très respectée dans le milieu musical canadien et un ardent défenseur de nos membres. Sa vaste expérience et sa profonde compréhension des enjeux auxquels sont confrontés les musiciens canadiens nous permettront de progresser » affirme le président international de l’AFM Tino Gagliardi. « Je suis confiant qu’Allistair exercera un grand leadership et assurera une représentation forte pour nos membres canadiens. »

Veuillez vous joindre à nous pour souhaiter la bienvenue à Allistair Elliott dans son nouveau rôle. Nous nous réjouissons d’avance de ses contributions à titre de directeur des Affaires canadiennes tandis que nous continuons de lutter en faveur de contrats équitables, de fortes protections de la propriété intellectuelle et d’une industrie musicale prospère.

P2 Visa Fee Increase – April 1, 2024

USCIS has implemented the fee increases that were proposed last year.  Effective April 1st the P2 fee will increase to $510. The last date that our office will be able to accept applications under the current fee of $460 will be COB Friday, March 22.

The new fee structure is based on the size of the engager and/or the petitioners status.  As the AFM is a not for profit, 501(c)(3) organization, our members will fall under the rate of $510.  For all other P Classifications, the fee for a small entity of 25 or less employees will be $810, and $1615 when engaged by an entity employing more than 25 people.  The O Classifications will increase to $530, $830 and $1,655 respectively.  The AFM only petitions for the P2, but our members do apply under the other Classifications as well.

Further to this, petitions are now capped at 25 persons, so multiple petitions with the corresponding fees, will be required for large ensembles.

For more info visit https://cfmusicians.afm.org/services/work-permits 

Important P2 Visa Updates~ Processing Procedures & Fees!

Dear Locals,

  1. In an effort to streamline and provide greater transparency on the processing of Member’s P2’s, last year the data tracking system was upgraded and now generates automatic alerts and updates to Members on the status of their files. This system has enabled the staff to better track data and increases their communications to the members, who are often concerned about receipt of their package and processing of their visa.

The main contact on the P2/P2S Application (as listed bottom of page 1 of the application) will receive emails:

i.) When the application is first received at our office.

ii) When the petition form has been couriered to USCIS.

iii.) When the USCIS Receipt Notice has been issued. The email will include the Receipt Number and link to USCIS website, so members may monitor the processing status directly if they would like. The staff will of course continue the regular process of monitoring the status of all files as well.

iv.) When the P2 Approval Document (Notice of Action I-797) has been received in our office from USCIS. A scanned copy will be attached to this communication, and the recipient mailing address and method of delivery (courier, post, or in-person pick-up) will be confirmed.

This means the main contact receives 4 emails for every P2 and/or P2S Application, notifying of the step-by-step processing. The emails are sent from the general P2 department email, immigration@afm.org. This is a useful email address to direct any P2 questions, as both of the primary (Ari Vangeest and Melanie Hall), as well as back-up P2 Administrators, will receive these communications.

We hope these changes have provided the members with a greater understanding of the process, and that these regular updates have eased their approval-waiting period. Special thanks to the wonderful AFM-tech team of Michael Ramos and Gary Goode for the design and infrastructure, and to Susan Whitfield and Ari Vangeest for the thoughtful integration.

  1. AFM Administrative Fee increases January 1, 2024 (we will allow 1-month grace time for any who have already sent in petitions and/or have already budgeted based upon previous fees before receiving this update):

Standard Processing: from $120 for the first musician/technician to $125 for the first person.  The fee of $25 for each additional person does not increase.

Premium Processing: from $120 for the first musician/technician to $150 for the first person.  The fee of $25 for each additional person does not increase; and $25 to push up a submitted P2/S petition(s) from Standard to Premium processing $25 (new fee).

Replacement, B1 and Cultural Exchange Support Letters: from $45 to $50.

This information was posted to the CFM site prior to the Holiday Closure: EN: Work Permits :: Canadian Federation of Musicians (afm.org)  FR: Permis de travail :: Canadian Federation of Musicians (afm.org)

  1. Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) Premium Processing Fee Increase February 26, 2024:  The Premium Processing fee will increase from $2,500 to $2,805.  The last day for receipt in the Canadian Office under the current $2500 fee will be February 16, 2024. This increase falls under the USCIS Stabilization Act allowing an adjustment to the premium fees on a biennial basis. After leaving these fees unchanged for the 3 years following passage of the Act, DHS is now increasing the premium processing fees to reflect the amount of inflation from June 2021 through June 2023 according to the (US) Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

There has been no further update as yet on last years proposed increase to standard processing, other than we may expect an update by March 2024.

  1. Some banks across the country, most notably RBC, have stopped issuing USD Money Orders. When members encounter this issue:

i)                    They may consider asking a close personal contact to inquire with their bank on the possibility of obtaining USD money orders;

ii)                   If they, or their close personal contact, do not already have such an account they may open a United States-based bank account, from which a money order can be obtained;

iii)                 If they, or their close personal contact, hold or have access to a credit card issued by a United States Bank, they may pay via the USCIS credit card form at the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/g-1450;

iv)                 Obtain a United States Postal Service money order.

If none of the above is possible, please contact immigration@afm.org or (416) 391-5161

  1. Current P2 processing timelines and submission recommendations:

Standard Processing: Majority of files are processing within 60 days after receipt in the Canadian Office (this information should not be confused with receipt of the Local office). We recommend Members to submit their application 90 days prior to the day they will need to enter the US.

Premium Processing: We recommend Members to submit their applications, for receipt in the Canadian Office, 30 days prior to the day they will need to enter the US.  USCIS will take up to 15 calendar days to process from the date of receipt in their office.

  1. In November we Welcomed Melanie Hall as Bilingual Artist Immigration Administrator/Agente billingue à l’immigration des artistes, to the P2 Administrative team. With the addition of Melanie, the P2 services are once again fully bilingual.  Melanie can be reached at ext 222 mhall@afm.org .
  1. As we always keep the CFM website up to date, it is highly recommended that any P2-related information on Local websites simply be directed to: EN: Work Permits :: Canadian Federation of Musicians (afm.org)  or FR: Permis de travail :: Canadian Federation of Musicians (afm.org) .  The P2 Information document is in the process of being amended in both languages, to reflect the information above.  The documents should be posted early next week, after the office reopens from the New Years Holiday closing.  The applicable document links in the PREZI are also in process.

 

Welcome to the AFM

Government of Canada Launches Program to Provide Additional Support for Cultural Workers in the Live Performing Arts Sector

News release

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:  

  1. 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.) 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.  

  1. 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.  

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.  

  1. 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.   

Sincerely, 

John M. Lewis IATSE jlewis@iatse.net / 416-362-3569

Arden Ryshpan CAEA arden@caea.com / 416-867-9165 

Alan Willaert CFM awillaert@afm.org / 416-391-5161

Ken MacKenzie ADC president@designers.ca / 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:

https://musicpf.org/scholarship-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.

Good luck!!!

 

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 scholar@musicpf.org. 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 scholar@musicpf.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.

Additional Information

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.

Kind regards,

Emergency Orders and Policy Interpretation Team

Public Health Agency of Canada

phac.emergencyorder-decretdurgencecovid19.aspc@canada.ca

Équipe des décrets d’urgence et interprétation des politiques

Agence de la santé publique du Canada

phac.emergencyorder-decretdurgencecovid19.aspc@canada.ca