OTTAWA, ON – Actor, musician, and Canadian icon Tom Jackson appeared as a witness before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs today on behalf of the Creative Coalition, consisting of the IATSE, Canadian Actors’ Equity, the Canadian Federation of Musicians, and the Associated Designers of Canada. As an indigenous person who is both a Member of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic and an Associate Member of the INAN Committee, Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan suggested to the Coalition that because culture touches all communities, the INAN committee would benefit from hearing more about the situation now facing the arts & culture sector and its workers. The Coalition made a natural choice in reaching out to Dr. Jackson, who is well-known for a career spanning both live performance and film & television – as well being an Officer of the Order of Canada.
He spoke eloquently on the role that the arts play in the lives of Canadians, underscoring the very real danger this pandemic has caused for the entertainment sector; particularly live performance. Movies, television shows, streamed concerts, and online theatrical performances are what we are leaning on to get us through physical isolation. Dr. Jackson noted that if the arts are to survive, they will need strong government support – as will entertainment workers. He also discussed how the arts give back and cited his own project, www.AlmightyVoices.ca, in which musicians provide entertainment and raise money for the Unison Benevolent Fund.
John Lewis, the IATSE’s Director of Canadian Affairs, stated, “We are grateful to Tom Jackson for addressing the federal government on the situation confronting arts and culture. As someone who has risen to the highest levels in our industry, his appearance today has helped to shine a light on our unique challenges, and why government support is critical for both arts organizations and arts workers.”