Government likes to parade out artists and musicians in front of news camera's whenever it gets a chance. It makes them look a whole lot cooler while at the same time showing a cultural connection to the people they serve. But whether or not the Ontario government is following through on the promises it makes to artists while using their work for their own promotion is very hard to find out.
The Ontario Music Fund was established to help artists and musicians in the province and through the Ontario Media Development Corporation it distributed $30 million over the past 2 years. An article in the Toronto Star titled 'Secrecy around $30M Ontario music fund strikes wrong notes' follow's journalist Michael Geist's struggle to get real number's from the OMDC about who would receive the funding and how the money would be spent. Geist found out through Freedom of information requests that 3 major foreign owned companies (Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada) would be receiving the lion's share of the funding, $830,000 each; while 11 smaller Canadian recording companies would be getting an average of $115,000. Though OMDC redacted and was unwilling to share information about the specific programs and results of those programs receiving funding which questions their effectiveness.
Geist's further inquiries show that the government is talking big when it comes to supporting arts and culture in Ontario but that the numbers don't reflect their boasts. Stats show that only 263 full time jobs were created by the fund at a a cost of $57,000 to the tax payer per job, recording at Ontario studio's is not increasing and that recipients reported spending less than $7 million in private support which is less than half of the governments investment.
The secrecy surrounding the fund is probably the most alarming piece of this entire investigation. As the Canadian and Ontarian music scenes continue to grow and gain international recognition, Ontarian's have a right to know about how our money is being used to support our own artists.
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