COVID-19 Information & Resources for Ontario's music industry (updated regularly)

Posted on
March 16, 2020

    COVID-19 Information & Resources for Ontario's Music Industry

    UPDATED: June 16, 2020

The Federal Government announces details about the allocation of $500M in emergency funds for Heritage.

  • CERB will be extended to October 3, 2020.
  • CEWS will be extended past June
  • $250M will be distributed to the Arts & Culture sectors via existing agencies

The Canadian Federal Government has announced Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations: next steps to support the industry impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. You can find the press release here.

  • The goal of the Fund is to protect jobs and support business continuity for organisations whose viability has been negatively affected. It is designed to complement the other federal government measures in response to COVID-19, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.
  • The Prime Minister just announced that the wage subsidy program will be extended beyond June. This may help organisations that did not qualify for the CEWS to now access the program as we enter the peak season for productions and presentations. You can apply to the CEWS here.
  • $198.3 million will be allocated to the arts and culture sector through existing funding programs at Canadian Heritage.
  • $55 million will be distributed through Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) in order to help artistic organisations that support artists.
  • We will use a two-phased approach to speed up the distribution of funds:
    • Phase 1 is for funding recipients who are projecting a significant financial impact as a result of the pandemic:
      • A formula-based top-up will be provided to existing recipients through Canadian Heritage’s arts and culture programs, which include the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, Canada Arts Training Fund, and Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program. To simplify the process, current recipients of targeted programs will only need to fill out an attestation. Once this document has been received and reviewed, funding fill flow shortly thereafter. Clients will be able to apply for up to 25% of recently approved funding. The minimum amount awarded will be $5,000.
      • Like Canadian Heritage, the CCA will use a formula-based approach to deliver the funds. Clients will be able to apply for up to 25% of recently approved funding.
      • If your organisation receives funding from more than one participating department or agency, you may only request funding from one of these organisations for support from the Emergency Support Fund. Canadian Heritage and the CCA will coordinate their funding responses to avoid double funding.
    • Phase 2 will provide temporary support to other organisations, which include those in the arts and culture that do not currently receive funding from Canadian Heritage, the CCA, and our other participating organisations. Further details on Phase 2 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Here are the links to helpful documents on our Emergency Fund:
News release

    MusicOntario is working daily with fellow industry organizations to ensure that the needs of the music industry are reflected in the implementation of these measures for both short-term relief, and long-term recovery efforts. We will continue to update you as new and/or pertinent information becomes available.


      • Airline Cancellation Policies: A comprehensive guide by Forbes can be found here.
      • Bandzoogle has put together this handy blog: How musicians can ask fans for support during the coronavirus pandemic.
      • Updates from the City of Brampton can be found here. They are also conducting an Arts & Culture Impact Survey - fill it out here.
      • Canada's official response to COVID-19 can be found here, with frequent live updates.
      • Canada Council for the Arts: Information about CCA's cancellation policy can be found here.
      • Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA)'s list of COVID-19 resources for Canada's indie sector can be found here.
      • Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA)'s list of domestic and international festival and coference cancellations can be found here.
      • Canadian Live Music Association's Request for relief to the Canadian government can be found here.
      • Canada Public Health has info about the situation available here.

      • CAPACOA is asking you to track cancellations affecting the Canadian live performance sector here.
      • The CBC has a list of resources for Canadian artists and freelancers can be found here - note that this list is cross-disciplinary, not just limited to music.
      • The City of Toronto has announced the City Hall Live Online series in support of Unison Fund. Artists can apply here.
      • City of Toronto: Property tax / utility bill grace period: A 60-day grace period is in effect for City of Toronto property tax, water and solid waste utility bill payments for all residents and businesses, for bills dated as of March 16. As well, late payment penalties for residential and business properties will be waived for 60 days, starting the same day. The City's COVID-19 info page is here, and information about economic support and recovery can be found here. They are also conducting a survey to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on local businesses. 
      • Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION) has a list of resources for crew, musicians, producers, and suppliers working in Northern Ontario here.
      • The Department of Finance Canada has a thorough resource here outlining how the government is taking action to help Canadians experiencing hardship, including detail about flexibility for taxpayers.
      • FACTOR: Information about FACTOR's cancellation policy can be found here.
        FACTOR has also extended some of its upcoming deadlines:
        - Artist Development and Juried Sound Recording deadline is extended by two weeks, from May 14 to May 28.
        - Business Development as part of the Support for Eligible Music Companies program is extended by 4 weeks, from April 23 to May 21.  
      • I Lost My Gig is a support group on Facebook for folks from various disciplines in the Gig Economy to gather, listen, and share.
      • The London Music Office has a handy guide for supporting local music.
      • Long Winter has compiled a list of resources here for geared toward artists and workers in DIY communities
      • Music Managers Forum Canada has an incredibly thorough resource page that is being constantly updated here.
      • MusicOntario (it's us!) will be reposting all sorts of things on our socials/to our stories - have a peek there for various updates, interesting content from the community, streaming events, and other tidbits to help pass the time. 
      • Ontario has announced a revised list of essential workplaces to remain open, as residents are asked to limit their time outside of their homes, to not spend time with those who do not formally reside in their household, and to not gather in groups larger that five people. This does NOT mean that people are encouraged to have social gatherings up to five people, nor should people who do not live together be closer that 6 feet from one another. PLEASE exercise extreme caution when going outside of your home and especially in higher traffic areas, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, medical facilities, etc. This is a crucial time to flatten the curve, and we are absolutely not out of the woods yet. The new list takes effect at 11:59PM on Saturday, April 4, 2020, and you can review it here.
      • Ontario also has posted guidelines for the gradual reopening of the economy here.

    • Ontario Arts Council's policies on COVID-19 can be found here. On April 17th, the Ontario Arts Council announced a number of actions to support Ontario’s artists and arts organizations through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These provisions will offer flexibility and support to sustain Ontario’s vital arts community through this difficult period. OAC is developing a strategic fund to help Ontario artists and arts organizations respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.
    • Ontario Creates has posted its COVID-19 Response Plan for stakeholders here.
    • Ontario Live presents Music Together, a joint initiative of Ontario's Ministry of Heritage, Tourism, Sport, and Cultural Industries and private sector donors including Arts & Crafts has been announced, offering 300 Ontario artists $1000 each for live performances. Artists can apply here.
    • Ontario Ministry of Health resource page.
    • Ontario's Ministry of Labour announced that it is enacting a new regulatory amendment that will put non-unionized employees who have been temporarily laid off because of COVID-19 onInfectious Disease Emergency Leaveduring the outbreak. This will ensure businesses aren’t forced to terminate employees after their 13 weeks of temporary layoffs have expired.Learn More
    • Ontario Presents is offering to host online of phone-based meetings free of charge for any Ontario-based artist, agent, presenter, or other art presenting industry professional who needs to host a meeting but does not have the means to do so. You may contact They also have a page of resources for arts presenters here, and a document outlining Coronavirus Response for the Live Performance Sector here.
    • Radio Starmaker: The Board of the Radio Starmaker Fund wants to inform all stakeholders that any previous tour dates that were approved and were to take place between February 15th and August 31st of this year will be fully funded if they were canceled as a result of the coronavirus. All you will need to do when filling out final paperwork is indicate the reason for the cancellation was coronavirus – no other proof will be necessary. This same policy will also be in effect with regard to tour dates approved by the Board for Round 74. We are currently examining the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the implications it may have on future touring. Currently, when we open our next round we are considering a moratorium on requests for tour funding for all performances from April 1st to May 31st of this year given the very high likelihood of cancellation. We will be monitoring this situation over the next few weeks and making a final determination on or before April 10th when we plan to open the next round of funding. In the meantime, we wanted everyone to know this is a possibility as tour plans are made this year.
    • SOCAN has announced a $2 million Enhanced Emergency Fund for members. Info here. This program is primarily for SOCAN members who are songwriters and/or screen composers. You can apply by calling 1-866-307-6226, or emailing
    • Spotify has partnered with Unison Fund to help support the Canadian music community, matching donations up to $10 million USD. To support the Unison and Spotify Canada initiative, we invite you to visit this page and donate today:

    • The Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Foundation have partnered to create TOArtist COVID Response Fund, allocating up to $1000 to self-employed, individual artists resident in Toronto whose creative work and income have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are open now and will be accepted until 11:59pmEST on April 30, 2020 through TAC's online portal
    • Toronto City Council voted to approve to expand the "Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclasses" to provide a50% property tax reductionfor eligible live music venues for the 2020 tax year. The City announced the move this afternoon in amedia release.
      1. Read the program information outlined onthis page.
      2. Review your venue's characteristics and operations against the criteria listed under the "Qualifying Property Criteria" tab. If you believe you're eligible for the program, contactlivemusicvenuetax@toronto.cato request the application form via email.
      3. If you have any questions,, which will be monitored by staff to explain details as needed.
    • The City'sCultural Festivals Recovery Program provides financial and in-kind assistance to support festival organizers in meeting payments to suppliers, maintaining critical operations for 2020, and planning for improved public health and safety practices. In-kind program partners Re-Solved, FORREC,BaAM Productions and the Leadership Emergency Arts Network will provide advisory services to third-party event organizers.

    • Toronto Musicians Association has information and resources for financial assistance and bill payment relief here

    • Unison Benevolent Fund has announced its COVID-19 Relief Program, with an initial donation of $250,000 from the Slaight Family Foundation, matched by the Unison office, offering $500,000 to provide assistance to Canada's music community. Read the full press release here.
    • Unison Benevolent Fund has information about how they can help here, or you can call 1-855-986-4766 for inquiries to help you deal with the financial or emotional impact of COVID-19.
    • Unison also has a great list of national and provincial financial resources here.
    • Worldwide Independent Network has a list of resources for the indie music community across the work here. Updates on planning gatherings can be found here.

    • World Health Organization:

    Statement from MusicOntario regarding COVID-19:

    As the music community comes together during the novel COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to keep you informed of developments as they roll out.

    Ontario has declared a state of emergency, and we understand the severe implications for our members and stakeholders, with small businesses and venues closing, tours cancelling, and the gig economy in which so many of us thrive in limbo.

    Artists, performers, and musicians are without income, and the entrepreneurs and companies that work to promote, support, and elevate Canadian music are all seeing their livelihoods in jeopardy. Please review the information below in case it may be of assistance.

    We are staying abreast of the situation as it pertains to the music industry in Ontario, and implore everyone to stay as safe as possible through this stressful and uncertain time. 

    MusicOntario has been working daily with fellow industry organizations to share information and advocate for our local and national music industries with all levels of government. We hear your concerns, and we are fighting to have your voices heard as various measures continue to roll out. We know this industry is extremely nuanced in nature, and we are making sure the appropriate decisionmakers are aware of the complexities we face as a whole, and within each of our many sub-sectors.

    Stay tuned for virtual programming.

    Please note that the MusicOntario office is closed, and we will be working remotely until the proper health officials advise that it is wise to return. We are working to understand what that means for upcoming programs and events, and we will keep you posted via our various social platforms.



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