Arts council welcomes financial support

There are supports put in place for the arts and culture sector during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The BC Arts Council will administer a $3 million fund provided by the ministry of tourism, arts and culture.

A supplement of up to $15,000 will help operating and eligible project clients in early April to help pay the bills and the BC Arts Council can provide operating clients an advance on 2020-21 funding to help with cash flow.

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"We are also extending application deadlines, relaxing reporting requirements and allowing organizations to use funding to cover immediate needs like rent and utilities," minister Lisa Beare said. “The new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers allows people in the arts sector, who have had their income affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, to apply for a one-time payment of $1,000. Our government's financial support plan includes several actions that arts organizations are eligible for, such as delaying tax filing and payment deadlines. We will have more to announce regarding additional supports for the sector in the weeks ahead."

The Prince George & District Community Arts Council, whose mission is to operate and maintain a creative arts facility that serves the needs of local artists, cultural organizations, and residents of the area, is the local umbrella agency for many artisans and arts organizations. 

"From the arts council's perspective this provincial money is certainly welcomed," Lisa Redpath, program manager for the local CAC, said.

The arts and culture industry is an $8 billion industry, she added. 

"The impact is certainly felt with more than 30,000 artists working in the province," Redpath said. "It's certainly a sector that has been hit hard."

The local arts council is located at Studio 2880, which houses a gift shop, administrative offices, a local radio station and local art organizations.

"We are a city facility so we closed when all the rest of the city facilities were closing," Redpath said. All staff are working from home, she added.

"To close is a huge loss to a lot of these groups and anything the government can do at this point in time to get us back on our feet is welcome," she said. "This will reassure us that help is coming and that will get us back on our feet when the time comes. It's important to remind everybody that we're all in this together."

The best thing artists can do right now is to stay home, she added.

"These are unprecedented times," Redpath said. "We just have to listen to what health authorities are telling us. Locally the arts community has phenomenal support from the public, the municipal government and dedicated sponsors."

With all large gatherings off limits, Redpath said the community needs to rally around artisans and arts organizations and support them as soon as concerts, plays, festivals and fundraisers can be held again.

"There will be trying times ahead certainly and it's unknown when we can get back to some type of normal and that can be very stressful," she said. "But it's good to see artists turning to virtual paths to teach, inspire and entertain in an effort to uplift people because right now a lot of people are afraid. This situation has pushed us into new and creatively innovative ways of doing things."

Nothing will replace the in-person experience and those occasions will come again but for now she said, we all have a responsibility to stay safe and stay home.

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