Canadian Music Industry Meets in Toronto for Inaugural Anti-Harassment Summit

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The behind-closed-doors discussion included Canada's Minister of Heritage Mélanie Joly via Skype.

Representatives from numerous music industry organizations convened Thursday in Toronto's ACTRA RACs building for the first Canadian Music Industry Anti-Harassment Summit.

The behind-closed-doors discussion, which included Canada's Minister of Heritage Mélanie Joly via Skype, was organized by industry unions the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA).

While media did not attend, Billboard learned that the Minister stressed the federal government's recent commitment to gender equality and that ACTRA has sexual abuse resources in place for its members, including an after-hours hotline -- something the music industry does not.

On her Twitter account, Minister Joly posted, "I had an important discussion on harassment, workplace safety with representatives from Canada's music industry," with thanks to the participating organizations.

Among the participants were reps from The Juno Awards/CARAS, Unison Benevolent Fund, East Coast Music Association (ECMA), Canadian Women Working in Music, MusicOntario, Manitoba Music, Creative BC, Songwriters Association of Canada, Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency, Women in Music Canada and the Canadian Country Music Association.

Nonprofit trade organization Music Canada -- which represents the interests of companies that record, manufacture, produce, promote and distribute music in the country -- tweeted, "We were very inspired by today's conversation with music community members about ending sexual harassment."

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, the CFM wrote after the summit, "From the Green Room to the Board Room, work-place harassment is present in the Canadian Music Community" and continued to thank a long list of participants at the initial summit.

"We look forward to working together to create an industry-wide policy against harassment in the workplace to protect ourselves, our colleagues, and our audiences," the CFM wrote. 

In January, the Canadian Actors Equity Association (CAEA) also held an anti-harassement roundtable with representatives of the Canadian live performing arts community -- including music, theatre, playwrights and dance. They discussed, as a press release stated, "an industry-wide response to all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence, as the beginning of a national action plan." Minister Joly opened the meeting.  

The discussion concluded with participants agreeing on a common, public statement:

We commit to a performing arts industry that is safe and respectful. We recognize that increasing equity for marginalized and disenfranchised communities within the sector is an essential part of the solution.

We established working groups today to:

1.   Develop a national code of conduct
2.   Develop resources and internal education materials
3.   Examine sectoral reporting mechanisms
4.   Mentor and foster the next generation in partnership with educational  institutions
5.   Review governance models, board composition and practice

The live performance sector is committed to finding ways to work collectively and with purpose to find solutions. Communication with those who work in and with our sector is essential. We will provide updates on our activities as they become available.