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Hope for Canadian Musicians and Artists During COVID-19

Hope for Canadian Musicians and Artists During COVID-19

Five dollars can make a huge difference, and I’ll prove it to you in a few moments. 

Before I do, however, I want to take a moment to let you know the Dropout team is active and still working – from home – to bring you new Canadian music news and hopefully some entertaining content during this very serious time. Our thoughts are with those directly affected by COVID-19 and we wish you all nothing but love and safety. 

So, about those five dollars?

In 1958 five Canadian actors each put a symbolic $1 CAD into a pot and launched the Actors’ Fund of Canada. In 2016 Actors’ Fund Canada became The AFC, the lifeline for Canada’s entertainment industry. We want to take a moment to introduce you to this organization if you’re not familiar with them. If you’re an artist that is anticipating – or experiencing – some hard times, this could very well be a potential life-line. Not a solution by any means, but a life-line nonetheless.

First some history. Inspired by the Actors Fund of America, an organization created earlier that decade, these five Canadians – Ms. Mallett, Barbara Hamilton, Donald Davis, Barry Morse, and William Needles – founded the Actors’ Fund of Canada not only to support ‘aged, sick and destitute’ actors but to support “anyone, anywhere, who has ever been engaged in any branch of the entertainment industry” a commitment the organization still stands behind today. So, what exactly does that mean?

The entertainment industry is a pretty far-reaching thing – are you wondering if you qualify for help? Well, let me give you some insights after talking to the team at The AFC. 

If you’re a working performer on stage or screen, or retired the short answer is, probably yes. Some easy examples of the kinds of people The AFC is positioned to help are actors, filmmakers, musicians, dancers, drag queens, comedians, and even mimes! The AFC’s reach doesn’t just stop at performers – the organization prides itself on the ability to help anyone that works to contribute to the performances themselves, including sound technicians, promoters, back-up dancers and go-go dancers and even the most trivial roles such as EDM DJs. 

At the moment the organization is advising ANY AND ALL Canadians that have a full-time working connection to the entertainment industry to reach out for help, even if you’re not sure if you qualify. That means if you’re a graphic designer that gets all of your work from clubs, bands and DJs – reach out to The AFC, while you might not qualify, they are stressing that in the current climate they will be looking at making extenuating circumstance-related exemptions. 

Here are the basic qualifiers for assistance:

You are over retirement age and have made the majority of your income in the entertainment industry throughout your working life;


You are currently working age and have earned more than half your income from work in the entertainment industry in 2019 and 2020;

Have lost contracted income due to cancellations or delays.

The organization aims to support and maintain the entertainment industry in Canada so if you’re on stage or on screen or do anything that helps make that happen directly, they have your back! 

Click here for an application form.

So what about freelancers and commercial artists that are not part of the entertainment industry – or art least don’t work in that industry enough to qualify – well there’s a moment those Canadians have every right to feel a little left out in the cold, as there are no specific provisions lates out in the $82 billion plan laid out by the Canadian government for the freelance or “gig” economy, and that’s a massive oversight, but not one you don’t have the means to overcome. 

I’m talking to freelance marketers, freelance writers, freelance video producers, freelance commercial photographers, freelance graphic designers, freelance programmers – this might be tough to hear but the gig economy might be a rough one over the next few months. There are some things we’re keeping a close eye on, particularly the CFIB which at least has the foresight to know they need a specific plan for self-employed freelancers – however, it doesn’t look as if they have figured out exactly what that plan is, so we’ll try and keep you updated. 

In the meantime here are some resources we’ve found that might provide some rays of external financial hope. 


The Canada Council of the Arts seems to have their ducks lined up for artists, commercial or otherwise. 

The Emergency Survival Fund for LGBTQ+ Artists and Tip-based Workers – Administered by Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, this fund will help cover emergency aid and paid work for LGBTQ2S artists, performers and tip-based workers. 

The Photographer Fund A $25,0000 fund to help photographers impacted by COVID-19 – This fund put together by, will award up to $500 per person based on an undisclosed set of criteria. 

The Government of Canada has brought freelancers and self-employed (artists) under the Temporary Income Support category for those infected or caring for someone infected with the COVID-19 virus. 

Canadian Low-Income Artist/Musician Relief Fund – A private group fundraising to support a relief fund a-la Go-Fund-Me.

National Arts Centre and Facebook Canad’s $100,000 Package to support Canadian performers during COVID-19 – The Facebook-National Arts Centre Fund for Performing Artists will provide $100,000 in artists fees to support online performances between now and March 31, 2020 to help ease financial strain for those impacted by the closure of performance venues across Canada related to COVID-19.

Unison Benevolent Fund – Unison Benevolent Fund is a non-profit, registered charity that provides counseling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. 



About The Author

Benjamin Gibson

Benjamin is a Graphic Designer and Creative Director in Toronto, Canada. He has worked on projects for Arkells, Broken Social Scene, and Paul Oakenfold. instagram: @ben_in_toronto

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