Vancouver city council approves over $1.4 million in grants to arts organizations for 2021 spring arts season

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      Although all performing arts spaces have suspended events due to current provincial health orders, the city is moving ahead with grants for local arts organizations to prepare for the new year.

      Vancouver city council approved over $1.4 million in grants for 40 Vancouver arts organizations to use to access the city’s theatre spaces next year.

      The non-cash Theatre Rental Grants (TRGs) help cultural nonprofit producers and performers, ranging from small-sized occasional users to large-scale year-round users, access the city’s downtown civic theatre venues, including Queen Elizabeth Theatre and its šxʷƛ ̓ exən Xwtl’a7shn plaza, the Orpheum, the Vancouver Playhouse, and the Annex.

      This grant program provides rental subsidies and assistance for theatre costs (including event staff labour costs and technical equipment)

      The city had received applications from 63 organizations for the 2020-21 performing arts season from September 1 of this year until August 31, 2021. After to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, these grants were later approved and staff presented further considerations for the spring 2021 season (January 1 to August 31, 2021) once applicants were able to confirm their spring programming.

      Vancouver Civic Theatres remain in Phase 1 of its restart plan and staff are finalizing details for Phase 2, which will include access to additional spaces and events with potential audiences, with a target date of spring 2021.

      The spring season will include a variety of performances in dance, theatre, and music; will span the range from classical to contemporary works; and represent various local communities, including Indigenous, East and South Asian, Latin American, and LGBT people.

      Among the organizations are Arts Umbrella Association, Asian Canadian Special Events Association, Ballet B.C., Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, DanceHouse, Doxa Documentary Film Festival, Early Music Society, Flamenco Rosario, Full Circle First Nations Performance, Hard Rubber New Music Society, Indian Summer Arts Society, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival Society, Vancouver Asian Film Festival Society, Vancouver Bach Choir, Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra Society, Vancouver Out on Screen Film Festival Society, and Vancouver Symphony Society.

      The grants are conditional upon any required adaptations to comply with the reopening plans of the civic theatres, such as health and safety protocols or new ways or programming in spaces. 

      Any reduced or cancelled grants will be repurposed towards COVID-19 recovery initiatives to present performances in new ways, such as online or outdoors.

      City council approved grants totalling $1,463,870 to 40 organizations on November 24. On the same day, city council also approved $2.05 million in COVID-19 support to local arts organizations. 

      On November 19, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced expanded provincial health orders due to rapidly rising COVID-19 case numbers, which included the cancellation of all arts events and cinema screenings across B.C. These orders remain in effect until December 7.

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