Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Canada Council Refuses Funding

Sour grapes! Well it's official: The peer assessment committee for the Music Touring Grants program has completed it's deliberations and we've been informed us that our application was not successful. This decision is "a result of a comparative analysis process, the number of requests submitted to the competition and the budget available for this program."

"Committee members were asked to evaluate each application and to make funding recommendations based on the assessment criteria published in the program information sheet and application guidelines."

Yes, I'm a little disappointed. If a tour like this one can't get funding, who can? But, gosh, I'm so curious now... who are my peers? You know, the other musicians who are out year after year doing actual National tours of 40- 100 shows at a time, in virtually every area of Canada? I haven't seen any evidence that anybody is doing tours that come remotely close to the Century Tour in terms of scope and organization— over 100 back to back shows across Canada, urban and rural, large and small. And it's not just some wild proposal— this is the 4th year that this Tour has gone out in this form. After 38 years of Touring I know what I'm doing. We're not exactly low profile artists either. Anyway, I hope some deserving, actually working artists ended up with the money, and I hope the jury was composed of people with similar backgrounds. Clearly there are other touring shows working hard to make a go of it.

This year I'll be personally subsidizing the Tour's Northern leg to Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Dawson City. That was the real reason I applied to the Music Touring Grants program in the first place. Obviously the jury felt there were other tours, more worthy of funding— so I will watch and see what I can learn from the successful applicants.

Maybe the refusal comes down to the "assessment criteria." Technical. Maybe we weren't technically good enough. There's a big emphasis on "signed contracts," old fashioned ink documents that people used to fax and courier back and forth. I asked around, and a sampling of the venues kindly provided these for me in the 11th hour. But I've got a Tour BOOK here, with emailed confirmations of terms. These would serve, and do serve, as legal contracts. My legal advisor is good with them, and I am, too. The truth of the matter, for small shows and small venues, is that it is not usually worth while to litigate breach of contract problems. What? You're going to contest $500 in small claims, in Blankville, at great personal time and expense, halfway across the country? It mainly comes down to good will, good reputation, and clear communications between the parties. When you've got 100 shows, a sampling of representative contracts from all parts of the country should suffice for a preliminary assessment. That's what we provided. And I have written confirmations of terms for every show and appearance. We live in a digital age now. Printed, it's 300- 500 pages. Or maybe they were good with all that... who knows?

Ah, well. I'm really glad that we have the Canada Council, and I've appreciated the opportunity to apply for funding. Now I'll be watching carefully to learn who my peers really are, whose Tours they have decided to fund, and what the actual scope of these Tours might be. I'll share this information here, and perhaps those of us who care will learn from it. And I'll try it again. If you don't ask, you won't get.

But right now tickets are going on sale in different places across Canada for the Century Blues Tour! Soon we'll be playing your town! Funding would of been nice, but Dave and I have never had it so we won't miss it. Put the coffee pot on for us, would ya?

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