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Indie musicians cry foul over foreign worker fees

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Canada, Community

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German rock band Tokio Hotel performs at the Avalon Hollywood Club in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello/ Associated Press)

Canada's indie music scene may just have suffered a huge blow in the form of a federally mandated fee that will exponentially increase the costs for live music venues to bring international bands across the border. 

Changes to federal regulations surrounding foreign workers entering Canada flew under the radar of music lovers July 3, but the news made waves throughout social media yesterday when the Calgary Herald brought the issue to the country's attention

Before these changes were made, a one-time fee was required of $150 for each member of the band and was capped at $450. These fees are normally subsidized by venues across Canada as a shared cost and paid as an incentive to bring bands north of the border. Now live music venues must pay the inflated rate of $275 per artist as well as their entourage (manager, roadie, wardrobe, etc.) without a cap, as well as pay an extra $150 for each band member and crew member's work permit. 

If the applications for the work permits are declined, the fees are non-refundable and would be required once again for another application. 

An online petition created at change.org to protest the changes has already garnered over 60,000 supporters since yesterday. Administrators only need 11,000 more signatures to reach their goal. 

Consequences of the new regulations are expected to resonate in the indie music scene. Small venues may see a huge decline in patronage and revenue if they can't front the cash to lure in a touring band.

The NDP released a statement on just that today, saying the regulations will "turn away talented performers and threaten the survival of venues, bars and restaurants."

"Why the Conservatives would put up such high barriers for foreign musicians is beyond me," NDP multiculturalism critic, Andrew Cash (Davenport), was quoted in the statement. "This is a real attack on the country's vibrant music scene and the small businesses that help make it thrive."

What do you think of the fees imposed on out-of-country performers? How will it affect you?

Tags: Community, POV

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