Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for September 3, 2013

Fees announcement ‘shocked’ arts centre official

The Yukon Arts Centre won’t be directly impacted by a change in federal regulations raising the amount bars, restaurants and coffee shops are required to pay for international performers they host.

By Stephanie Waddell on September 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Pictured Above: ERIC EPSTEIN

The Yukon Arts Centre won’t be directly impacted by a change in federal regulations raising the amount bars, restaurants and coffee shops are required to pay for international performers they host.

However, Eric Epstein, the centre’s artistic director, says officials will be keeping a close watch on the situation in the coming months.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing at all,” Epstein said in an interview this morning.

He stated his support for petitions which have been launched against the fees.

They require eating and drinking establishments to pay an application charge of $275 per international musician and those travelling with a band, such as tour managers.

There’s an additional $150 for each approved musician’s and crew member’s work permit in the country.

Overall, Epstein said, the new rules will lessen the range of performances in eating and drinking establishments across Canada.

There may be a few bars in Whitehorse impacted by the regulation which bring in international acts occasionally, he said.

Epstein said the arts centre is fortunate that the fees don’t apply to it nor festivals, though it typically doesn’t bring in a lot of foreign acts, the vast majority of performers there being Canadian.

He said he was “shocked” when he first heard of the fees.

He believes a musician visiting the city for a performance should not fall under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program where the fees are listed.

The employment program “enables employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis to fill immediate skills and labour shortages, when Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not available to do the job,” as it’s described on the Human Resources Skills Development Canada website.

While there were similar fees in the past which applied to musicians visiting the country, they were capped at a maximum of $450, regardless of how many were in the group, Epstein said.

A petition is currently circulating on the http://www.change.org site opposing the change.

As of this morning, a total of 106,743 people were listed as supporting the online petition.

“Please amend the regulation that unfairly punishes international musicians and small Canadian venues,” reads the petition addressed to Employment, Social Development and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

“The Canadian government should be encouraging culture and the arts, not punishing those who are trying to promote it.

“Please make a new exemption that would allow performing artists to perform in bars, restaurants and coffee shops without forcing the venue to get a Labour Market Opinion and pay for each performer and crew member.

“We need a common sense way to fix this problem, and we are all here keeping an eye on this issue so we can help resolve this together.”

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