WCMA Responds to Recent Cuts to Cultural Programs

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Dear members,

As you may have read in the media over the past several days, the federal government announced some significant cuts to funding that supports our industry. We’ve begun a dialogue about it on our blog and many varied articles can be found at the bottom of CIRPA page that presents its response.

The cuts include PromArt ($4.7 million), Trade Routes ($9 million), the A-V Preservation Trust ($300,000), the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund ($1.5 million), the National Training Schools Program ($2.5 million) and they affect all facets of Canada’s cultural industries, including the music industry. The music and cultural industries are integral to Canada’s cultural identity and make substantial contributions to Canada’s economy. Trade Routes and PromArt are crucial in helping to export Canadian content abroad and to attracting much needed foreign investment to our industry.

What follows is the Western Canadian Music Alliance’s formal response to the cuts. MARIA strongly supports this position and encourages you to keep the conversation going by contacting your Member of Parliament. Please click here to find your Member of Parliament.


The Western Canadian Music Alliance feels that the Federal Government’s decision to cut the ProMart (arts promotion) program administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), and the Trade Routes Program run by the Department of Canadian Heritage is a mistake and an attack on a vibrant and economically viable segment of the Canadian economy.

The Canadian music industry has an international reputation as producers of some of the finest artists in the world.

In the media over the past week we have seen the vilification of specific artists and the inference that they are spoiled rich prima donnas that access public funds as a form of cultural entitlement.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Musicians in this country work tirelessly to create sustainable careers for themselves. Trade Routes and ProMart are the most successful music based government programs of their kind. Facilitating access to international markets is not a grant but an investment.

In the new reality that is the digitization of the music business, both obstacles and opportunities have never been greater. Artists and industry are small and large business entrepreneurs who need to have the exposure and the training to function in this new reality. Music is an important economic engine in the Canadian economy and deserves the same considerations as beef, pork or softwood lumber. In fact, the return on investment in the music industry has a consistently higher dollar return vs. spent ratio than most other business models.

ProMart and Trade Routes are the funding bodies that work with the WCMAs to create an international buyers presence at the WCMA Festival, Conference and Awards show. Our artists have benefited directly from this international program. The export components of the programs are a centerpiece of the Western Canadian Music Awards weekend. Both programs directly support Canadian musicians and the industry based companies that help create, tour, record and export one Canada’s most important natural resources. These programs have resulted in a demonstrable increase in export opportunities for Canadian musicians and industry.

Trade Routes funded international delegates have, by their own voluntary reporting to the WCMA
SIGNED: 29 artists, with qualified interest in signing an additional 19
BOOKED TO TOUR: 45 artists for a total of 270 dates
LICENSED MUSIC: 34 artists, with qualified interest in an additional 52

During the WCMA weekend, the international professionals are involved in 25 plus music industry panels, round tables and workshops. International orientation sessions are held where internationals meet one on one and receive an overview of the Canadian music scene. Targeted performances are staged from ten of the most export ready western Canadian acts in a special International Showcase night. In addition the international delegates access the WCMA festival where over 75 western Canadian-based groups in 10 plus venues perform over 3 nights in that years’ host city.

Last year at WCMA in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, 36 western Canadian artists were invited to perform at South by Southwest alone. This is a direct result of the Trade Routes initiative creating strong ties with international music buyers.

The Western Canadian Music Alliance acts as an umbrella organization for the five western music industry associations. (Music BC, Music Yukon, Alberta Music, SaskMusic and the Manitoba Audio Recording Industry Association).
Exporting their membership’s craft to the rest of the world is at the core of the industry association mandates and the cancellation of ProMart and Trade Routes will severely affect their (and our) ability to create and train artists and industry professionals to work on a global scale. Also, the addition of top international music buyers raises the bar of any event, attracting more top artists and professionals.

The Western Canadian Music Alliance intends to work with music-based organizations across the country to engage the government to reconsider their position on the cancellation of the Trade Routes and ProMart initiatives. The past has taught us that if you dismantle the cultural railroad it may become impossible to rebuild.

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