RBC Foundation Gives $50,000 to Unison Benevolent Fund to Support Music Industry

By Etan Vlessing 1/15/20 | www.samaritanmag.com

Photo credit: RBC
The RBC Foundation, the charitable arm of the Royal Bank of Canada,  has donated $50,000 to the Unison Benevolent Fund to support counseling, emergency relief and benefit programs for music industry professionals.

"We recognize the importance of mental well-being on a young person’s ability to achieve success, and are proud to strengthen the critical supports and services provided by Unison – to aid Canadian musicians on their journeys from emerging to established," Valerie Chort, vice president, corporate citizenship at RBC, said in a statement.

The RBC contribution to the music industry non-profit comes as counselling services required for Canadian music makers in crisis is growing, says Unison's executive director Amanda Power in a statement. "Music-makers navigate a rewarding, but difficult industry. It's crucial we have support systems in place to take care of the wellness of our music community.

A lucky few in popular music earn an impressive living, but many others fall on hard times and, often as freelancers or on tour for low-paying gigs, have few resources on which to fall back on in times of need.

"Jodie [Ferneyhough] and I often talked about how difficult it is for those in the arts with no support. Even if you’re signed to a major label, there are very few mechanisms available to artists and their families in times of crisis," Catherine Saxberg, vice president of international relations for SOCAN, said in her own statement.

Saxberg hatched the idea for the Unison Benevolent Fund with co-founder Ferneyhough in 2009 to support industry colleagues facing a personal or career crisis.

With the RBC support, music creators will continue to access Unison's counselling and health solutions resources for personal and practical issues via a free and confidential phone line (1-855-986-4766) or online, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With a focus on offering support for mental health issues, the Unison fund also helps with legal guidance, family counselling, childcare or eldercare support or nutrition advice.

Unison offers five hours of counselling for music industry professionals and their family, with arrangements for additional help available. Counselling in both English and French is offered by accredited professionals with advanced degrees in psychology or clinical social work.

And those calling the support line will be asked questions to match their needs with the right resources, according to the website.

Privacy and confidentiality is a key concern, so those reaching out will be asked, for example, if they want voicemail messages left on their phone lines.

"As a further professional privacy protocol, all counselling records of your confidential discussions with your counsellor are not accessible to the people answering the support line, which is why they will ask questions to clarify your identity," the website reads.

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