During one of the most financially challenging years in recent decades due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1,500 nonprofit British Columbian organizations in arts, culture, and sports sectors will benefit from provincial gaming grants.
The B.C. Municipal Affair Ministry announced this month that the provincial government is providing over $45 million to local organizations from community gaming grants.
Approximately $18.1 million in grants will go to more than 700 not-for-profit arts organizations.
In addition, more than $27.3 million has been allocated for over 800 not-for-profit sport organizations, covering sports ranging from soccer and hockey to skiing, paddling, and swimming.
Among the arts and culture recipients in Vancouver were Science World, Vancouver Theatresports, the Vancouver Pride Society, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the Vancouver Jewish Film Centre, the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, L'Alliance Francaise de Vancouver, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, the Eastside Culture Crawl, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Or Gallery, the Vancouver Bach Choir, the B.C. Chinese Music Association, Celtic Fest Vancouver, the Powell Street Festival, Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, and Kidd Pivot.
Vancouver sports sector recipients include the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, the False Creek Rowing Club, the British Columbia Rugby Union, Gymnastics B.C., the Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia, the Kitsilano Figure Skating Club, the Kensington Judo Club, the Vancouver Pacific Swim Club, and South Vancouver Little League.
Two Rivers Art Gallery executive director Sara Knelman in Prince George pointed out the important role that arts and culture play in the resilience of communities.
“This year more than ever, finding creative outlets and connections has been hugely important to our collective well-being,” she stated in a news release. She explained that the grant they receive will help them develop exhibitions and arts programs for children, youth, and families.
The grant program has stipulated that all funding given this year follows provincial health officer orders and also allows organizations the opportunity to delay projects or services until safe delivery is possible if needed.
These grants provide up to $140 million each year from commercial gambling revenues for almost 5,000 not-for-profit organizations across B.C.
In March, B.C. provided food banks in the province with a $3-million emergency grant to support vulnerable people during the pandemic.
There hasn’t been any change to the gaming grant program budget for 2020-21. However, with casinos and gaming centres having remained closed since B.C. Attorney General David Eby issued a directive (announced by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry) on March 3, the impact of pandemic restrictions on gaming revenues, and how that may affect future grants, remains to be seen.
When Henry was asked on April 30 about whether casinos would be reopened, she said that those venues, at that time, were her lowest priority and that she would have to be convinced of the need for their reopening.