B.C. to provide $16 million in funding for arts and culture organizations for COVID-19 recovery

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      During COVID-19 briefings, B.C. health officials, including provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, have mentioned preparing sports and religious sectors for safe reopening. But not much has been said about when arts and cultural organizations and companies can hold live events or film screenings in person again.

      However, there have been announcements about funding over the past year, with another announcement made today (March 24).

      The B.C. government stated that it will provide an additional $14 million in resilience supplements to 588 arts and culture organizations in the province. (A full list is available here.)

      Vancouver recipients include those in the fields of:

      • performing arts, such as the Cultch, Firehall Arts Centre, the Dance Centre, Vancouver International Children’s Festival, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, Théâtre la Seizième;
      • music, such as Coastal Jazz and Blues, VSO School of Music, Western Front, Vancouver New Music, and the Vancouver Bach Choir;
      • visual arts, such as the Polygon Gallery, Gallery Gachet, and SFU Galleries;
      • screen and literature, such as the Cinematheque, Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, VIVO Media Arts Centre, Talonbooks, Arsenal Pulp Press, UBC Press, Geist, SubTerrain, and more;
      • community arts councils, museums, and more.

      In addition, 47 organizations will receive $2 million for improvements to current spaces. (A full list is available here.)

      Among the recipients of these infrastructure grants in Metro Vancouver are:

      • $75,000 to the Vancouver International Film Festival for completing a new 41-seat cinematic studio theatre;
      • $75,000 to nonprofit artist-run centre and gallery 221A for upgrades for fire safety, accessibility, and air quality at 221A’s multi-tenant studio properties;
      • $75,000 to Asian art organization and gallery Centre A for improving infrastructure and expanding capacity;
      • $61,990 to Surrey’s Royal Academy of Bhangra for renovating hallways and washrooms for wheelchair accessibility, and fixing the studio ceiling to conserve energy;
      • $40,000 to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for purchasing recording and broadcast equipment for webcasts;
      • $40,000 to Vancouver Opera for purchasing equipment for a digital sound stage;
      • $40,000 to Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival for buying digital equipment to recording and sharing performances, education programs, and special events online;
      • $40,000 to North Vancouver’s Presentation House Theatre for purchasing equipment to enable physical distancing, plus livestreaming equipment;

      The B.C. Arts Council will administer the grants in the coming weeks.

      The supplements, which are part of B.C.’s $10-billion pandemic response (including its economic recovery plan), will enable organizations to cover expenses including rent, utilities, and other operating costs, and to maintain jobs.

      "This supplement will help cover our lost revenue and help keep artists and staff members employed while we work together on a plan to reopen safely,” Ballet B.C. executive director John Clark stated in a news release. Clark also pointed out that the company hasn’t been able to hold live performances since the pandemic began in March 2020.

      As these supplements are in addition to the $21 million announced in September, the province has now allocated a total of $35 million to arts and culture. In January, B.C. distributed $2 million to 50 arts and culture organizations.

      At the municipal level, the City of Vancouver had announced in January that city council had approved $8.4 million in grants for arts and culture organizations.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.