Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault on the stump. Pic: Sudbury Star
Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault on the stump. Pic: Sudbury Star

Ontario Music Fund Names 200 Winners In $14M Grant Round

The fifth annual Ontario Music Fund roll-call of recipients is officially released and it includes a large number of previous winners making it for a second or third time in the big ticket draw.

Incumbent Liberal MPP Glenn Thibeault made the announcement in his home riding of Sudbury–one of many northern Ontario cities where the Grits are vulnerable in the upcoming election that favours a new government led by either Tory Doug Ford or the NDP’s Andrea Horvath.  He also used his stump time in Nickel City to name a dozen Arts groups that are to share more than $900K in provincial funding. Most of the recipient orgs are either francophone or bilingual.

All in, the provincially-funded music sector initiative, administered by the Ontario Media Development Corp (OMDC), has gifted $70-million to hundreds of privately-held and publicly traded companies with operations in the trillium province since its launch in 2013. The five-year program was made permanent in 2015, although Ford’s win in the election could see a Conservative government kill the program.

Universal Music Canada ($800K), Warner Music Canada ($550K), Sony Music Ent. Canada ($500K) and Live Nation ON Concerts, GP ($125K) collectively received $1.875M from the provincial program that awarded 200 grants to music businesses and organizations in the latest round.

Other companies receiving six-figure grants include Arts & Crafts Productions Inc. ($575K), Dine Alone Music Inc. ($575K), Six Shooter Records Inc. ($300K), and Canadian Music Week ($310K).

A smaller grant totalling $53K went to now-shuttered The Agency Group Inc. (United Talent Agency).

Various provincially-based music industry orgs including CIMA, CMPA, Music Canada, Music Canada Live, CARAS, and the CMPA were awarded grants under the ‘Music Industry Development’ program.

The Music Fund awards grants under four programs streams. They are Music Company Development (in two categories, domestic music companies and multinational record labels); Music Futures (in two types, record labels, music managers, music publishers and artist entrepreneurs; and music promoters/presenters and booking agents); Live Music; Music Industry Development.

While the OMDC annually reports on those receiving taxpayer-funded grants in the music sector, the arms-length government agency has mysteriously been nontransparent about how approvals are made, oand how monies are to be spent.

In a handout accompanying the release of the latest funding, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport states that between 2013 and 2016, artists supported by the fund sold over 5.6 million recordings domestically and a further 7 million recordings internationally. It adds that “almost 4 million people have attended live music events supported by the fund, featuring performances by more than 4,000 Ontario artists.”

The same press release adds: “Ontario's plan to support day care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.”

Separately, MPP Daiene Vernile stated that “Our government recognizes that the music industry is a key economic driver in Ontario, as well as an important part of Ontario’s cultural landscape.”. He went on to add that “The Ontario Music Fund supports an environment where our music companies and organizations – both large and small – can innovate and expand, raising the profiles and boosting the careers of talented artists from many musical genres and backgrounds.”

OMDC President & CEO Karen Thorne-Stone added in the same release: “The Ontario Music Fund has been a real game-changer for music companies and artists in Ontario (and the) OMDC is proud to invest in building this important sector and ensuring that local talent reaches audiences around the world. The popularity of Ontario music is reflected in more than 100 Juno nominations this year alone, with seven out of nine artists in the Fan’s Choice award category from Ontario.”

The list of this year’s recipients

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