Sheila Hamilton of Unison Benevolent Fund
Sheila Hamilton of Unison Benevolent Fund

2017 Forecast… with Unison Benevolent Fund’s Sheila Hamilton

The following is the fifth in a series of forecasts and reflections about the music business in Canada that readers can expect to see in FYI in the coming weeks. Today we feature a submission from Sheila Hamilton, Executive Director of Unison Benevolent Fund.

With more vocal advocates joining us from across Canada and increasing awareness among music industry professionals, 2016 was a year of tremendous growth for Unison. We saw a huge increase in the number of Canadian music workers using our free professional counselling programs—that means 5x as many calls in first six months of 2016 as we had the year before.

We also saw a 50% increase in funds distributed through our emergency financial assistance program which covers shortfalls in rent, groceries and emergency medical expenses.

We’re headed into 2017 feeling confident that more and more Canadian music workers know they can turn to Unison in a moment of crisis—and that is largely thanks to their friends and colleagues in the industry who are spreading the word. Just as important,our follow-ups and surveys are telling us that those who reach out for help are finding the counsellingeffective and meaningful.

Thanks to our sponsors and supporters—and to our new staff member Amanda Power, who just finished her first full calendar year as Development Manager—fundraising events like the Unison Jam, Holiday Schmoozefest, the Canadian Entertainment Charity Golf Classic and the Unison Rocks Bonspiel have continued to grow in size and we’re able to set, and meet, larger fundraising goals than ever before.

This spring, we’re pleased to begin partnering with Arts & Entertainment Plan, a not-for-profit insurer exclusively for the Canadian artistic community, to help make sure more music workers have the resources they need, and there are fewer crises to begin with.

The Canadian music community has done an amazing job of sharing the word about Unison’s programs. Our focusfor 2017 is to raise the funds that support thatwork, keep pace with demand and respond to community needs.

For 2017, I’d ask all Canadian music workers to stay healthy and strong, and please remember…

All Canadian music industry workers can simply register online at and call 1-855-986-4766 for immediate access to free, confidential counselling support.
Unison Benevolent Fund is a Canadian non-profit organization, dreamt up by Canadian music community members, and supported by companies, labels and individuals who know the importance of health and stability for everyone who makes music their life’s work.

To become a Unison supporter, visit


— Sheila Hamilton, Executive Director of Unison Benevolent Fund



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