The Canadian music ecosystem continues to mobilize in the wake of confinement measures imposed by the various levels of government to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Facebook-NAC Fund in support of performing artists will grant $100,000 to broadcast online performances until March 31, 2020. This financial commitment aims at minimizing, in the short term, the impact of the closing of music venues across Canada.

Xavier Forget

Xavier Forget

“In the wake of the quarantine and report or cancellation of virtually all live shows, artists have done what they do best: they were creative and started giving performances from their homes,” says Xavier Forget, associate producer of variety and regional programming at the NAC. “Facebook took note of this and approached the NAC to look at how we can support artists. The #CanadaPerforms project is the answer. We invite professional performing artists to give home-based shows that will be broadcast on social media and, after reaching an agreement, the NAC will send them a $1,000 fee. The money was offered to us by Facebook and we will distribute all of it to those artists.

The NAC will receive and process proposals from artists who want to broadcast performances of 45 to 60 minutes. The initiative was launched yesterday and will continue until March 31. Apart from this financial support, the artists selected will see their performance broadcast on the NAC’s Facebook page and promoted with the hashtag #CanadaPerforms.

As for the selection process of those home-based performances, Xavier Forget insists on a commitment to represent the diversity of Canadian music: “Our artistic directors will select the proposals according to their experience. We obviously expect there will be a lot of musical proposals, but we also hope to get other types of proposals. We haven’t set quotas for content, we’re only looking for Canadian artists, and we’ll make sure we represent Canada, an egalitarian and unified country. Word of this spread rapidly on social media, and we’ve already received quite a lot of applications. We want to make sure these funds will go to professional artists who need it because their gigs have been cancelled.”

To submit a proposal for a paid performance, artists or bands of 10 members or less can contact the National Arts Centre at and submit the name of the performers, a description of their 45- to-60-minute performance, the proposed date, and the platform used to broadcast it. The NAC will make selections by consulting industry leaders, and will announce and broadcast the performances via its Facebook page as soon and they’re selected, so that they can reach the widest possible Canadian audience.

Lisa LeBlanc will be the first Francophone artist to present a performance at 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of Friday, March 20. Franco-Ontarian artist Céleste Lévis will follow on Saturday, March 21, at 7:00 p.m. As for the Anglophone side of things, the first broadcast was Thursday, March 19, and featured Jim Cuddy, Devin Cuddy, Sam Polley and Colin Cripps. Serena Ryder and Whitehorse have also confirmed their participation.

Other initiatives are also being developed, such as the one by the Énergie radio network and its “ÉNERGIE live sur le balcon” that offers a daily show, at 2:55 p.m., on its social media during the Ça rentre au poste program. Bleu Jeans Bleu’s Claude Cobra has already presented an à propos performance of the song “Cashmere.”

Other initiatives announced to take place on social media, however, have been cancelled due to the tightening of certain restrictions over the last few days, as well as because of the risks associated with large gatherings. One example is a project by Louis-Armand Bombardier, head of the L-Abe label and owner of a Montréal venue named Le Ministère, who was planning on broadcasting audience-less shows from his venue using a skeleton crew and increased sanitary precautions. “We will wait until the restriction on large gatherings is lifted. We have to be reasonable,” he said. The same things happened to Livetoune, a company specializing in live webcasts, which was planning on presenting a similar series from their offices. That project has also been suspended.

Canadian musicians, music industry professionals, and music organizations are continuing to creatively adapt to the situation.

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame has postponed the induction celebration of Kim Mitchell and Pye Dubois to September, as part of the new dates for Canadian Music Week, and is committed to finding new opportunities to honour 2020 inductee Ron Hynes, and more incredible Canadian songwriters and songs to be announced soon.

Similarly, CBC Music, in response to David Myles’s suggestion, is working toward playing only Canadian music in all of its daytime programming, for the next two months.

La Fédération nationale des communications et de la culture has launched a survey asking people what kind of issues they’re dealing with during the situation, to help determine the best ways to help them. This is the kind of funding support they provide.

The Guardian is reporting that musicians are asking Spotify to triple their payments in order to cover lost concert revenue.

Words & Music contributor Nick Krewen has written a feature story in The Toronto Star about how musicians are navigating life in “the new normal.”

Longtime Atlantic-Canadian SOCAN member Lennie Gallant and his partner Patricia Richard uploaded a Facebook video singing his apropos song “Lifeline,” that has reached 20K viewers and touched many fans’ hearts

On March 18, Toronto-based SOCAN member Mike Evin launched the Creative Isolation Challenge, committing himself to create one new thing – whether a new song, a new and different recording of an old song, a lyric, a dance, a beat, and so on – each day for the next 30 days.

Stay safe!

Canadian musicians, music industry professionals, and music organizations are continuing to creatively adapt to the situation.

If you’re a Canadian musician, artist, writer, or media worker, you’re going to want to look at this list of links to resources that will help get you through the COVID-19 situation

Music Managers Forum Canada has a very thorough resource page that’s being constantly updated here.

Here’s some information on how various funding organizations are dealing with the situation:

SOCAN is continuing operations to ensure that our members receive their royalty payments for the duration of the situation.

CAPACOA is asking musicians to track cancellations affecting the Canadian live performance sector here.

I Lost My Gig Canada is a support group on Facebook for folks from various disciplines in the gig economy to gather, listen, and share.

The Government of Québec is providing a temporary assistance program for workers. The program is designed to provide financial assistance to meet the needs of workers who, because of the need to isolate to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, can no longer earn the totality of their revenue, and who are not admissible to another financial assistance program.

The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec has established an emergency assistance program. It’s not a compensation or pre-payment measure, but special assistance using monies from existing programs that deal with short-term situations.

The National Arts Centre and Facebook Canada have announced a $100,000 fund to bankroll artists fees for home-based online performances. Among the performers are Jim Cuddy, Serena Ryder, William Prince, Lisa LeBlanc, Irish Mythen, Erin Costelo, and Whitehorse.

Almost daily since the onset of the quarantine, Roxane Bruneau offers coronavirus-themed parodies of songs from the Québécois repertoire. Have a look here and here.

Dan Davidson will be hosting a digital country music festival on Instagram Live, March 28, 2020, featuring Dallas Smith, Meghan Patrick, Jason McCoy with Clayton Bellamy, Jess Moskaluke, and many more.

Mark Marczyk, known as the ringleader of Lemon Bucket Orkestra, has established URGNT,  a crowdfunded livestream concert series for Toronto musicians to perform in some of the city’s venues, as well as DIY and indie spaces.

Special COVID-19 hotline number of the Quebec ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (Minister of Health and Social Services): 1-877-644-4545

Stay safe!