Giving back to the community was the focus of an industry panel at the Reel Music Festival at Durham College.
One of the four seminars held on April 9 focused on philanthropy and the spirit of giving back. Simon Chartrand, from United Talent agency and a former student of the MBM program, hosted a discussion panel of three individuals from the music industry who chose to use their skills to develop and enhance the lives of those less fortunate.
Ashley Boychuk is the program coordinator for the Coalition for Music Education which advocates for music to be brought back into schools, many of which have axed their band and choir programs. She believes the experiences children have in their formative years are the building blocks for their future character.
“There is an actual need in our society for music, for kids to learn and appreciate music,” said Boychuk. “Part of my job is convincing people who don’t have this passion, who don’t have this understanding, about how music literally changes people’s lives and showing them that it does.”
The coalition is funded by several sponsors, including TD Bank, Canadian Heritage, The SOCAN Foundation, Yamaha and the Trillium Foundation. “Without everyone’s support, we would not be able to do this,” she said.
Fellow panelist, Yuang Chen, a professional musician, is the national director of music for Kids Canada. His organization helps underprivileged kids have access to music lessons.
“The skills you get from music are universally applicable later in life,” said Chen. “As a professional musician, I realized how much (money) my parents had dumped into it. So, I started to give music lessons to younger peers.”
Since 2010, Music for Kids has served more than 500 children across Canada who would not have been able to afford the cost of music lessons.
A third panelist Skyped into the conference from Toronto Island. Charlie Andrews is the manager of the SOCAN Foundation.
“The SOCAN Foundation is dedicated to fostering Canadian music creation and promoting a better understanding of the role of music creators in today’s society,” said Andrews. “We impact the careers of music creators through our international showcases and composer residency grants.”
She is also doing a fellowship in diversity and inclusion in philanthropy with the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
“We live in Canada, and music does bring the world together,” said Andrews, “So, it is something to be mindful in a multicultural society, making sure you are breaking down barriers that could exclude people fully participating in philanthropic endeavors.”
Shelby Hitchcock, a student on the MBM program, attended the conference. She said these initiatives are important for students.
“People don’t realize how important it is for the students,” said Hitchcock, “It’s helped a lot of people with depression and anxiety, and they need something to let that out.”
Ashley Garner, head of promotions and publicity for the RMF and a second-year student of the MBM program, said one of the aims of the festival was to share everything the students had learned, as well as what Oshawa has to offer for the music industry.
“Music is good for you,” said Garner, “It’s a lot more than people think.”
This year, a portion of the proceeds from the festival will be donated to MusiCounts, a Canadian charity, which helps keep music alive in schools.