It took the unfortunate accident and subsequent passing of a Canadian musician a number of years back to bring to light the fact that musicians of all walks of life don’t always have a fallback should they encounter an emergency situation. While this is probably much less of a concern for the Nickelbacks of the world, there are far more bands slugging it out these days without having access to the necessary funds should they need them.
The Unison Fund is out to change that. All musicians and those involved behind the scene (tour managers, techs, etc) are encouraged to register at www.unisonfund.ca. To give us some insight into what the organization does, Here Magazine spoke with Unison Fund President Jodie Ferneyhough.
What was the inspiration to get the Unison Fund off the ground?
Approximately five years ago after an accident claimed the life of a Toronto musician, it occurred to myself and others in the industry that indie artists, major label artists and those involved in the industry don’t have anything to fallback on in the event of an emergency. We don’t have resources in the business to offer any kind of safety net for these guys.
What kind of services does Unison offer?
We offer those in the music community help due to illness, injury, or economic difficulties. Together with our partner Shepell FGI, Unison offers private and confidential counseling services at no cost to those who use the service. We have the opportunity and responsibility to reach out to those in the music community to say we’re here to help, no matter what the situation is. Registration for all individuals is completely free.
What are Unison’s next steps?
We need to raise one million dollars to be able to give the money to crisis situations. We have already raised $850,000 through a variety of fundraisers undertaken by the Board of Directors and others. Each of the Canadian major labels have given $250,000 on a promissory notes that, once we reach the one million dollar mark, will go into the endowment fund. Right now, we are trying to raise the necessary funds but without the proper exposure, it’s tough. We’re relying on those in the industry including bar owners to help raise the remaining $150,000. Even taking $1 of your cover charge and donating it would help us reach our goal. No amount is too small, really.
Article published in the April 25, 2013 edition of Here Magazine