MusicNL Letter to The Honourable Bernard Davis Regarding COVID-19

March 25, 2020

The Honourable Bernard Davis
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

cc. Charles Bown, Deputy Minister
Carmela Murphy, Assistant Deputy Minister
Melanie Martin, Manager of Culture

Dear Minister,

We are deeply concerned for Newfoundland and Labrador musicians, and all artists and arts organizations affected by cancellations of arts programming due to COVID-19. Today we ask for your help protecting our fragile arts community from the devastating financial effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures are critical right now, but proactive decisions need to be made to ensure that musicians can continue to live and work. When the all clear is given later in 2020, artists will provide the concerts and shows that will bring us all together again and help us work through our collective experience of this unprecedented time.

Musicians and the Music Industry have been a cornerstone of NL’s tourism industry. Much business and income has been generated for our province in large thanks to the work of NL’s music sector, from background music to tourism advertisements, soundtracks for tv shows and films, to the appeal of the numerous music festivals that attract thousands of visitors each year. From large scale events like the George Street Festival through Trails, Tales and Tunes, the Eastport Accordion Festival and the NL Folk Festival, the musicians of our province have been the centerpiece that buoy up such incredible events that are the core of the lore and legend of our province.

The majority of the individuals and organizations contributing to this success are most often selfemployed, earning minimum levels of income without the benefit of government programs such as Employment Insurance to offset downturns in the economy. This is particularly true at this time when, following the impact of Snowmaggedon, the Music Industry is faced with massive cancellations of tours and pre-arranged performances, but also with the unlikelihood of being able to generate an income in the foreseeable future. This impacts all levels of our sector, from Superstars like Alan Doyle, to small home-town performers who provide regular entertainment to visitors throughout the year. Plus, the army of ancillary workers such as sound and lighting technicians, promoters, venue owners, etc.

Minister, the Music Industry has been the backbone of NL’s tourism sector as well as ‘the voice’ of NL on all media platforms, be it radio, TV, film, podcasts, or streaming services. We recognize this is a difficult time for all citizens in our province, but the Music Industry is more vulnerable than many other sectors. We ask that you consider the dire situation that we find ourselves in at this unprecedented time and work with us to find a way to permit musicians to live with dignity in this extraordinary period.

Because musicians and many workers in the arts community provide services for several organizations, festivals, small and large businesses, they are critical to the success of many links in the economic chain. We must find a way to ensure our artists do not fall through the cracks and that they are provided an avenue of funding throughout this extraordinary unprecedented pandemic. We must work together to find creative ways to keep our arts organizations alive and help our creative community feel safe so that they can plan with confidence the cultural events that will bring us all back together when this pandemic is finally over.

Thank you in advance for your consideration, and for your hard work during this unimaginable time.

Sincerely,

Amy House
Chair, MusicNL

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