Music Yukon to be independently reviewed

Yukon's Film and Sound Commission is looking to hire an independent expert to review its funding of Music Yukon.

Yukon’s Film and Sound Commission is looking to hire an independent expert to review its funding of Music Yukon.

That decision follows the discovery the nonprofit had mismanaged funds and owes the Department of Education $56,000.

The Outside review will look at the impact of the commission’s yearly contributions to Music Yukon, said commissioner Barbara Dunlop.

For each of the last six years, the department has doled out $50,000 to Music Yukon to help fund its resource centre and pay staff.

The department also handed additional money to the group on a project-by-project basis to help market Yukon artists.

The organization, which formed 11 years ago, advocates for musicians, offers workshops and provides a place for musicians to meet.

The Yukon Film and Sound Commission never had any concerns about the way the organization handled its money, said Dunlop.

It was only when new executive director Steve Gedrose raised a red flag last fall that the department took notice.

When Gedrose stepped into the position last year, he realized the group’s finances were wonky.

The nonprofit didn’t have the money to pay out the Cultural Training Industry Fund it had administered since 2004.

The fund, given out through the Department of Education, was counted on as another source of money for the nonprofit.

Each year the group was given $75,000 to review applicants and deliver money to artists and professionals to hone their skills. The deal was that Music Yukon would keep 15 per cent of that money as administration fees.

But last fall, Gedrose told the government there wasn’t enough money in the bank to pay those artists.

That money had instead been redirected into other projects and staffing, said Gedrose.

But the Film and Sound Commission never noticed financial problems with the group, even though it did quarterly reviews, said Dunlop.

“Each of the contribution agreements we provided to Music Yukon were appropriately reported on,” she said.

The commission only froze the group’s funding after learning about the debt owed the Department of Education.

In the meantime, the commission is offering the group $15,000 to tide it over until an outside expert has reviewed the organization.

The money will go to funding the executive director’s salary, she said.

Music Yukon has long struggled to stay financially viable, said Gedrose and board president Grant Simpson.

The funding structure, which asks Music Yukon to match the government funding it receives, isn’t tailored to an organization that doesn’t make a profit.

Last year’s funding shortfall speaks to the need for more funding for the group, said Gedrose.

Music Yukon plays an important role in the territory by stimulating the economy and showcasing Yukon talent, he said.

An economic impact assessment done in 2006 found that Yukon’s music industry contributed $2.79 million dollars to the territory’s $1.5-billion GDP.

“It’s a healthy organization with lots of accomplishments,” said Simpson.

“When you consider what’s been done over the last 11 years, it’s pretty incredible.”

The organization is planning to pay off its debt over the next few years and is optimistic the independent review of the organization will go well, he said.

That review is expected to take place this fall.

The Department of Education did not return calls for interviews.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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