It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the economic well-being of millions of Canadians. Musicians, who rely heavily on revenue from touring to make ends meet, and other artists are in trouble. It’s not a lucrative career for most at the best of times. With news of entire tours being cancelled, it is the worst of times right now.
The plight of artists was recently acknowledged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and it looks like the federal funding programs will help to some degree.
thank you @justintrudeau
for shouting out and thanking artists in your speech yesterday. it means a lot to know that our government sees us and acknowledges our value at this time. bravo!
— torqcampbell (@torquilcampbell) April 16, 2020
Toronto is blessed to have a wonderful community of musicians who even now continue to entertain and enlighten through live stream performances happening on the daily. But that won’t do much when it comes time to pay the rent.
Today, there is one small piece of the puzzle getting underway in City Hall Live Online, which is a new series that highlights local musicians and raises money for the Unison Benevolent Fund. The organization provides counselling, emergency relief, and benefit programs for the Canadian music community.
“As we face the challenges of this pandemic together, this is one more way that the municipal government continues to support Toronto’s cultural sector. These performances will help raise donations to support Unison Benevolent Fund’s work to help musicians and music industry workers,” said Mayor John Tory, in a statement. “This project is an early result of consultations by the Economic Support and Recovery Task Force — that work, focused on protecting and restarting all sectors of Toronto’s economy, continues.”
During each performance, viewers can choose to make a donation, 100 per cent of which will support Unison’s work to help musicians and music industry workers.
Today at noon – the City is launching a livestream series called City Hall Live Online. It will help raise funds for Unison Benevolent Fund, and create paid opportunities for local musicians during this time of closed venues and postponed festivals: https://t.co/eLW05qqDjJ
— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) April 16, 2020
According to the city, more than 100 local artists will be directly compensated for 30-minute performances from their homes, live-streamed via Facebook Live. First up in the series is musician Tamara Lindeman, better known as The Weather Station, who performs today at noon.
I’ll be playing live on facebook tomorrow at 12 noon EST as part of a new livestream series launched by the City of Toronto. The series is to highlight local artists and raise money for @UnisonFund a cause very close to my heart.https://t.co/VbPzuIMwpy
— The Weather Station (@TheWeatherStn) April 15, 2020
The Toronto folk musician is one of the country’s brightest musical stars, who released her last album in 2017. Other artists scheduled to perform include The Digging Roots, LAL, Sydanie, Luna Li, Ahmed Moneka, Amanda Martinez, Charlotte Cornfield and more.