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SoundON Brings British Columbians Together to Show Resilience and Celebrate the Power of Live Music

SoundON is a province-wide campaign and resilience fund to help bring British Columbia’s music community back together and provide desperately needed support to those connected to the sector – artists, presenters, production staff and venues. The first project of its kind in Canada, it is the ultimate in community and collaboration as it brings together industry members from across the province with one common goal – to bring the province’s vibrant music industry back to life.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the once effervescent music industry in BC,” says Lindsay MacPherson, Executive Director at Music BC. “It is a pain that has been felt by so many, especially those working in arts and culture. A group of leaders from across the industry have come together to collaborate on a way to bring back life to the sector. We have everyone from city officials, promoters, presenters, venues, production, and artists working on the project. Our aim is to be highly collaborative, in an unprecedented way, to bring our beloved industry back.”

The music industry in BC was among the first sectors to be closed due to COVID and will be among the last to reopen, a scenario that is predicted to create devastating consequences for the industry. Without immediate action, more than 90% of Canadian independent music venues are anticipated to permanently close within the next six months.

Tonye Aganaba by Lindsey Blane Creative

SoundON will fund and stream uniquely curated content through the lens of festivals and presenters. With the help of public funding, corporate sponsors, and individual donors, SoundON aims to put economic flow back into the industry. This will allow people to return to work as soon as possible – while sparking hope for those affected by the pandemic. The website also provides music lovers worldwide a whole new way to discover music in BC. Amazing shows from across our province will be featured, all on one free website.

SoundON is produced by a volunteer collective from the music sector, who are passionate about making a difference. It is a fluid, multifaceted project that will be rolled out in several stages. The first stages, announcing today, invite presenters from across BC to apply to curate shows that will be streamed on SoundON.ca beginning July.

An anticipated 100 shows will be produced to showcase the incredible diversity of British Columbia’s music community. While shows will be free to watch on SoundON.ca, donations will be encouraged to help fund the project through its ongoing phases.

“This is a tale of resiliency and one we’re excited to share with British Columbia,” says Eduardo Ottoni, Producer of SoundON. “Music and gathering are at the heart of every vibrant culture, and something that gives joy to so many people. The pandemic has not only had a devastating economic impact, but an emotional one. Our aim is to be a beacon of resilience during the pandemic and beyond.”

SoundOn is presented in part with initial funding from Creative BC, the Province of British Columbia, several corporate sponsors, and private funders.

Luke Campbell Knows How to Rally a Network to Help Others

In early April we saw ICG 669’s former treasurer, Luke Campbell, take swift leadership in a DTES meal delivery initiative at the peak of COVID-19. His actions were quickly aided with support from Teamsters Local Union 155, IATSE and DGC members, and every corner of B.C’s motion picture industry.

In concert with the non-profit, Potluck Café Society, Campbell, Teamsters and IATSE members work to supply Downtown Eastside single residential buildings. Luke and his team’s unbelievable determinism and steadfast commitment prove that it takes a village, and the motion picture ecosystem can work together to help when needed.

We spoke to Luke Campbell about the work he’s done to take this initiative off the ground, and his calls for the community to help as funding for the meals on the street have run out effectively today, and the community needs your help. You can donate directly to Potluck Café Society’s Charitable DTES COVID-19 relief fund here to help this initiative successfully distribute 102,000 meals by the end of the month.

 

We love seeing the unbelievable initiatives you are taking recently to deliver meals to the Downtown Eastside. Could you tell us a little bit about getting the initiative started?
I have few friends in Europe that were sharing how bad things were getting so I felt I was a little more prepared mentally that we needed to get into action fast, when our industry closed down on the Friday. I had noticed many of my favourite restaurants were struggling and closing and wondered if we could collaborate to have meals paid for via donation that would help the local restaurants and in turn help feed those in need. On a Monday morning I started by reaching out to the community and my contact at the GRVD Food Bank, Nicole Campbell, and heard back on March 24th. She put me in contact with six other groups in the community, I quickly realized that the need would be greater than what I could easily organize through aggregating meals from restaurants and with 3000 of the 5000 quickly closing, I also worried about the supply chain failing. So I shifted gears, I contacted Lorrie Ward from Teamsters and said there may be a demand for their members in the catering department and their trucks to provide meals, I just put a bug in his ear to get the wheels moving. He informed that membership in all the unions were tasking the offices pretty heavy as all were trying to get on EI, but ultimately the following Monday things should be at hand.

In talking with former board member Crystal Braunwarth Publicity Member at Large who is now the assistant business agent at Local 891, she suggested that we maybe should reach out to Meals on Wheels for logistic advice. I spoke with their executive director to gain some insight, soon after we realized the permanent catering kitchens that were idle just made more sense to use, but she shared that as more than half of her 600 clients had meals delivered by drivers that happened to be seniors and no longer felt comfortable doing the deliveries they had to cut their program down in half. I reached out to my social network and sent volunteers their way including two cinematographers Phil Lanyon and Ian Kerr.

I then reached out to other labour organizations inquiring who was in charge of COVID relief requests with 891, 669, the CLC (Canadian Labour Congress), the BC Fed, and a new group that I was not aware of the Vancouver and District Labour Council. The VDLC and other food bank networking brought me to join a COVID-19 meals program that was being chaired by Steve Johnston, the Executive Director of Community Impact Real Estate Society a social enterprise whom the City of Vancouver sits on their board. They were partnering with Naved Noorani, Executive Director of Potluck Catering Society who wanted to provide meals to those in need too.

Initially from this Friday meeting the request was for a one-tonne truck to pick up 1000 meals on Saturday and Sundays with Mondays to Fridays being delivered by Union Gospel Missions. Goodly, the largest catering partner happened to be close to my office so I jumped on driving those meals myself.

I then attended a logistic meeting while a doctor tended to my “annual” physical and quickly out of this meeting it was asked if we could set up a logistics distribution centre and staff it with six people per day, to which I said absolutely. Shortly after an additional request to provide four delivery vans with drivers 7 days a week was put in. I quickly reached back out to Lorrie at Teamsters 155 and asked for help with an industry special on one truck and four vans, he partnered us up with Miranda Luyten at Discount Cars, and then he proceeded to find a crew of four drivers including a captain.

I reached out to Rhonda Taylor 2nd AD / UPN DGC who we had talked on set months earlier about our skills being transferable for disaster recovery and asked if she could come on board and help run the operation with scheduling the volunteers I was rostering. I was having a hard time getting an onsite production coordinator to come on board, so I turned to my friend Abigale Flint from the commercial world with the “just get it done” attitude.

I then reached out over the weekend and the following Monday morning to three different locations providers for table, chairs, tents, trash bins, cones, and fans to stock the distribution centre. All were supportive but Jason Cox with Whites LES was able to accommodate us and provided everything we need. I had my sole employee who was in travel quarantine reach out to Panavision to borrow a pallet jack and ramp for my weekend deliveries, and they were happy to accommodate.

On Tuesday, March 31st I started moving vans, and then the Teamsters business agent Shawn and another volunteer came to help, I picked up the location supplies and we got the distribution centre ready with the help of Darcy from Potluck. Then we waited for the city to issue the purchase order for the food. Two days came and went and then finally on Thursday morning in early April, the meals started flowing.

Who are your partners, volunteers and supporters that help you carry this out?
Darcy Green, Potluck Café Society Operations Manager
Rhonda Taylor, Directors Guild of Canada BC Team Leader
Abigale Flint, Abigale Flint Commercials, Scheduling and Team Leader
Darla Chibi, Milita Ouellette, Mike Farley, Brandon Tutt Lorrie Ward, Shawn Henter, Teamsters 155
ICG 669 members
DGC and members
IATSE 891 members
Actors Guild
ACFS
Rey Torres, Union Gospel Mission
Navid, Ian, Prashant, Cornelious, Potluck Catering Society
Aart Shuurman Hess and team, Goodly Food
Adriane King and team, HAVE Cafe
Whites LES
Panavision
Discount Cars
and B.C’s commercial film community

 

How many volunteers were able to help you with this?
We have a total of 29 Volunteers, we usually crew 5-6 for the lunch service and a team of 2-3 for the street dinner service. As people’s commitments have changed, or they have moved to be with family, we’ve been training one team member a week to replace outgoing volunteers.

How many meals have you delivered so far?
Approximately 85,575 meals as of May 20th.

What have been some memorable moments working on this initiative?
My weekend pickups from Aart and his team at Goodly, hand-passing the meals at our centre thinking that more than 55,000 meals have personally gone through my hands (I’ve taken four days off). I used to provide a few meals directly on Main Street, it was very heartfelt, I came to know a few members of the community by name. Now that I’ve hired more industry friends to help get my business ready to come back, and we’ve merged our “family units” it’s too high a risk. I’m very thankful for the month that I was able to do this, it was extremely humbling to call strangers sir, or ma’am, offering them a warm meal, and see the joy and true gratitude in their eyes. I’ve gotten so much more from this effort than I could have possibly known, and honestly, it’s going to be very difficult for me to go back to our industry. This has been an awakening for me, I had planned to do more community service and disaster relief in five or so more years when I felt I would slow down in our industry and look for a change, but now I’m going to need to find a way to balance this most important and rewarding work with work within our industry.

Finally, the most important for our film community has been offering the opportunity for others to be of service, to help out, and try to do something meaningful during such strange times, as well as letting them connect with other film members between the rush of the meals.

What would you like everyone to know about this initiative? Are there ways anyone can help?
There are some really caring people in the DTES community, members living on the street, members who were on the street, and those helping to support them, even some of the first responders. You get back so much more than you put in when you help people in your community. Help us deliver meals to the end of the month by donating directly to Potluck Café Society’s Charitable DTES COVID-19 relief fund here.

Alexis Roumanis of Engage Books wants to help children understand COVID-19

Explaining COVID-19 to young children can be challenging for families. Engage Books wanted to create accessible resources for parents and educators to help children understand the significant impact that COVID-19 is having on their lives. Engage Books created multi-level educational books to empower young children to read about COVID-19 on their own, or with the help of an adult. This simple act empowers young readers, and is an important step in making this situation a little less scary.

As COVID-19 is affecting millions of children across the world, Engage Books strives to translate these books into multiple languages. To help support their efforts, physical copies are available for purchase. To help make this book available to as many children and families as possible, this eBook is offered free of charge to everyone.

Engage Books partnered with Munday Media & Design to donate a Story Walk of the Level 2 and Level 4 books. Each page of these books are now printed on signs, and placed in the park at Oliver’s community centre for families to read the entire book as they walk from sign to sign. We chatted with Alexis Roumanis about his determination to take an initiative in educating facts in a meaningful way.

Tell us about your book and how it came to ideation.

When schools closed in March, my boys (6, and twin 5-year-olds) were asking lots of questions about COVID-19, and I realized that parents around the world are being asked similar questions. A few days later, I decided to use my experience in writing and publishing children’s books, along with the involvement of talented publishing professionals, to put together three books for Level 1, 2, and 4 readers.

Did you collaborate with anyone to create the book?

Over the past several years, I have worked closely with children’s book editor, Jared Siemens. He has a keen eye for detail, and knows intuitively how to structure a children’s educational book. Recently he has been working in the non-profit sector, performing a wide variety of relief and poverty prevention work internationally. When I approached him with the COVID-19 series, he immediately appreciated the significant impact that this could have on children, and began helping me with the finer details of structuring each book. I am very grateful for his help.

Tell us about your work at Engage Books

Engage Books publishes a wide variety of content. I began by publishing classic titles from the likes of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and James Joyce. Since, Engage Books has branched out into a variety of areas including bullet journals, and children’s books. One of our books, The Toddler’s Handbook, has been so successful that we have translated it into 20 different languages. I divide my time between writing, editing, finding new images, laying out new content, and coordinating workflow with publishing professionals. One of my favourite things is coming up with new concepts, and planning out a new series of books.

 

 

What were the early days of your career like? How did you get to where you are now?

After I graduated Simon Fraser University, I enrolled in SFU’s Master in Publishing (MPub) program in 2007. During my time in the MPub program I established Engage Books, and began publishing some of my first books. My goal upon entering the program was to start a book publishing company, and I wrote my thesis on this endeavour. After graduation, I began working full-time for other publishers, and built Engage Books slowly in my spare time. Over the past decade, I’ve edited hundreds of children’s books, and written about 100 educational books for other publishers for children in grades K-12. Engage Books now has several hundred titles, and I am now able to focus solely on Engage Books.

What inspires you as a creator? What are your influences?

When I focus on a new project, I wonder how I could make the most of myself, and what impact my actions could have on others. When creating children’s books, I am appreciative of the positive effect that words can have on developing minds. My ultimate goal is to instill a belief in children that anything is possible. I am inspired by Elon Musk. Not because of his success and an individual, but because his actions are focused on solving real-world problems. When faced with the threat of pollution, Elon Musk decides to focus on electric vehicles, and creating renewable energy with solar panels. To make travel safer and faster, he began digging tunnels under major cities and plans on connecting cities with ultra-fast Hyperloop pods. Musk is also dead-set on sending people to Mars as humanity’s ultimate safety net.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Publishing in an industry with many creative outlets. It has allowed me to branch out into writing, editing, production, marketing, layout and design. My advice is to learn as much as possible about the publishing process, as it will not only help you become better within a specific field, but it will give you an opportunity to move your expertise to multiple departments. The best way to learn about the publishing process is to attend Simon Fraser University’s Master in Publishing (MPub) program. It is an in-depth, and rigorous 16-month program that helps students to develop the practical and conceptual tools they will need to flourish in an industry that is constantly changing. I am extremely fortunate to have found the MPub program nearly 13 years ago and am happy to see the program flourishing under its director, John Maxwell.

Alexis Roumanis and his children read What is COVID-19 together

 

What impact do you hope to achieve with those who read the book?

My goal with Level 1, 2, and 4 readers is to empower young children to read about COVID-19 on their own, or with the help of an adult. This simple act empowers young readers and is an important step in making this situation a little less scary. As COVID-19 is affecting millions of children across the world, we are striving to translate these books into multiple languages. I have enlisted the help of three of SFU’s graduate students from the MPub program to work remotely with professional translators in different countries. They are working fast and will have French, Spanish, and Hindi editions of all three books available for distribution in early May. Our goal is to reach as many children as possible.

Where can people access and purchase the books?

To support our efforts, copies of all three books are available for purchase on all Amazon websites. eBooks will be available on all major platforms in May. Libraries can order directly through Ingram’s iPage.

Are you doing any innovative creating from home during this time? 

When I contacted the MPub program several weeks ago, I was surprised to learn that most of the 16 student’s internships had fallen through. Many publishers decided not to take on interns while their offices were closed. I hired on two interns by distance, one from BC, and the other has moved back to her home in Ontario. We are collaborating on a daily basis, using Zoom, Google Docs, and email to keep in touch. Generally an intern would work closely with a supervisor in a publishing house, however, we are finding that with the use of innovative technology, we are able to collaborate and accomplish daily goals. The internships have started off extremely well, with the MPub students developing interactive eBooks, and new content for young children. It is difficult to see students held back by COVID-19, and I am excited to be working with such a talented group of people.

Support Engage Books by purchasing copies on Amazon: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 4

 

A spread from What is COVID-19

Map of B.C. independent bookstores offering pickup and delivery services

From Terrace and Qualicum Beach to Cranbrook, the Made-in-B.C. Indie Bookstore Map is yours to use in support of your community bookstore, now offering online orders, home delivery and/or curb-side pickup during COVID-19. ⁣

The map was curated by Don Gorman of Rocky Mountain Books, from Victoria, BC. View the map here.

Stream, Search and Submit Live Made-in-B.C. Events on Showcase BC

Introducing Showcase BC, a new relief program and online content hub. The Showcase BC program provides immediate support in the form of micro-grants to eligible emerging and established B.C. musicians who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the Province of British Columbia, this program will be administered by Creative BC and focuses on live-streaming, songwriting and professional development.

 

 

Online performances by recipients will be free and available to the public via the new hub that aggregates access to streaming events, showcasebc.ca, and through the hashtag #ShowcaseBC.

Creative BC will immediately offer grants to all previously eligible Amplify BC applicants, including those who applied for Amplify BC funds through Music BC and First Peoples’ Cultural Council programs, so artists can start creating at home.

Those from the interactive and digital media, motion picture, music and sound recording and publishing industries are welcome to submit their virtual events to Showcase BC to feature and promote their online event in the calendar.

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Motion Picture Industry’s PPE Drive Delivers

Location Managers, MPPIA, DGC BC and IATSE 891 Support Province’s Call for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

B.C.’s motion picture industry is staying home and staying safe in observance of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

However, their coordination, resourcefulness and community-mindedness are being redirected in support of pandemic relief and provincial collaboration. To serve government authorities’ need for more PPE to keep B.C.’s frontline healthcare workers safe, many companies, productions and individuals in the province’s film industry are rallying to round up materials and donations, ensuring they serve the COVID-19 Supply Hub directly and efficiently.

Coordinated by Location Managers Ken Brooker and Mary Jo Beirnes (who works on The Magicians), along with their teams with support from the DGC BC, IATSE 891, MPPIA, Whites LES, and Creative BC.

Results of the drive include over $57,000 worth of PPE donations, all of which were identified by local film industry productions, suppliers, and individuals for diversion in support of the provincial effort.

The Province of BC indicates that priority products for support of the COVID-19 response are medical in nature. View them on the COVID-19 Supply Hub.

Here’s the list of priority products that B.C.’s film industry delivered in support of the Province’s COVID-19 response:

23,790 nitrile gloves  |  6,635  shoe-covers  |  2,515 N95 masks  |  1,903 isolation gowns  |  890 dust masks  |  700 surgical masks  |  612 full-body paint suits  |  407 safety-glasses/goggles  |  51 half-mask respirators  |  40 Surgical caps  | 36 Litres Hand-Sanitizer   |  25 Surgical drapes  |  12 full face-shields

If you can donate or supply products from the list below you are invited to submit an offer through the Province’s webform.

Hollywood is watching its friends in British Columbia as both Deadline and the Hollywood Reporter covered the story.