By Graham Rockingham

FirstOntario Credit Union has launched an innovative new micro-loan program aimed at helping local musicians.

The program, available through three FirstOntario Credit Union branches, makes loans of up to $2,500 available to Hamilton-area musicians who would otherwise have problems convincing a bank or a government arts program to lend them money.  

“We as an organization are quite passionate about arts, culture and community,” FirstOntario senior vice-president James Lefebvre said Monday.

Tom Irvine, FirstOntario’s community impact lead, said the program is unique in Canada.

“Short-term financing is something that people in the music industry have been struggling with,” Irvine said. “They’ll have unique income strains that don’t always meet specific lending guidelines.

“We invite everyone to come into the branch and have a conversation. We’re taking a common-sense approach, making sure that the payment suits the cash flow they’ll have at the end of the month. We want to make sure this is something they can afford.”

The program is an initiative of the Hamilton Music Industry Working Committee, a group of music professionals formed to advise the city on ways to promote and nurture the local music scene.

“This program should be much simpler and faster than many of the other government-related options out there,” said singer-songwriter Dan Medakovic, a former member of the committee. “Now it should be easier than ever to get funds to repair that precious vintage amp, purchase that instrument that will get your performance to the next level, or rent that recording equipment or studio that you need for that demo.”

To learn more about the music industry micro-lending program, visit any of these FirstOntario branches: 1 James St. S., 50 Dundurn St. S. or 486 Upper Sherman Ave., or call 1-800-616-8878.