The Canadian music ecosystem continues to mobilize in the wake of confinement measures imposed by the various levels of government to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Facebook-NAC Fund in support of performing artists will grant $100,000 to broadcast online performances until March 31, 2020. This financial commitment aims at minimizing, in the short term, the impact of the closing of music venues across Canada.
“In the wake of the quarantine and report or cancellation of virtually all live shows, artists have done what they do best: they were creative and started giving performances from their homes,” says Xavier Forget, associate producer of variety and regional programming at the NAC. “Facebook took note of this and approached the NAC to look at how we can support artists. The #CanadaPerforms project is the answer. We invite professional performing artists to give home-based shows that will be broadcast on social media and, after reaching an agreement, the NAC will send them a $1,000 fee. The money was offered to us by Facebook and we will distribute all of it to those artists.
The NAC will receive and process proposals from artists who want to broadcast performances of 45 to 60 minutes. The initiative was launched yesterday and will continue until March 31. Apart from this financial support, the artists selected will see their performance broadcast on the NAC’s Facebook page and promoted with the hashtag #CanadaPerforms.
As for the selection process of those home-based performances, Xavier Forget insists on a commitment to represent the diversity of Canadian music: “Our artistic directors will select the proposals according to their experience. We obviously expect there will be a lot of musical proposals, but we also hope to get other types of proposals. We haven’t set quotas for content, we’re only looking for Canadian artists, and we’ll make sure we represent Canada, an egalitarian and unified country. Word of this spread rapidly on social media, and we’ve already received quite a lot of applications. We want to make sure these funds will go to professional artists who need it because their gigs have been cancelled.”
To submit a proposal for a paid performance, artists or bands of 10 members or less can contact the National Arts Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org and submit the name of the performers, a description of their 45- to-60-minute performance, the proposed date, and the platform used to broadcast it. The NAC will make selections by consulting industry leaders, and will announce and broadcast the performances via its Facebook page as soon and they’re selected, so that they can reach the widest possible Canadian audience.
Lisa LeBlanc will be the first Francophone artist to present a performance at 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of Friday, March 20. Franco-Ontarian artist Céleste Lévis will follow on Saturday, March 21, at 7:00 p.m. As for the Anglophone side of things, the first broadcast was Thursday, March 19, and featured Jim Cuddy, Devin Cuddy, Sam Polley and Colin Cripps. Serena Ryder and Whitehorse have also confirmed their participation.
Other initiatives are also being developed, such as the one by the Énergie radio network and its “ÉNERGIE live sur le balcon” that offers a daily show, at 2:55 p.m., on its social media during the Ça rentre au poste program. Bleu Jeans Bleu’s Claude Cobra has already presented an à propos performance of the song “Cashmere.”
Other initiatives announced to take place on social media, however, have been cancelled due to the tightening of certain restrictions over the last few days, as well as because of the risks associated with large gatherings. One example is a project by Louis-Armand Bombardier, head of the L-Abe label and owner of a Montréal venue named Le Ministère, who was planning on broadcasting audience-less shows from his venue using a skeleton crew and increased sanitary precautions. “We will wait until the restriction on large gatherings is lifted. We have to be reasonable,” he said. The same things happened to Livetoune, a company specializing in live webcasts, which was planning on presenting a similar series from their offices. That project has also been suspended.