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In December, the Government of Canada announced a new funding program that will support workers in the live performance sector. The Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund, a temporary program for 2022-23, was created to encourage initiatives that provide financial assistance or other support to independent and self-employed workers in the sector.
The Government of Canada acknowledged that the arts and culture sector was among the hardest hit by COVID-19, and it has established this new program in an attempt to help individuals recover from the ensuing hardships. The $60-million fund, which is being administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage, aims to retain Canadian skilled workers as we recover from the pandemic.
According to the Government of Canada, our country’s cultural sector employs 726,600 people, including 158,100 professional artists. In the third quarter of 2021, the number of jobs in the broader cultural sector was at 93.2 per cent of its pre-pandemic level, while the number of people employed in the live performance sector had dropped to 62.3 per cent. This dramatic difference demonstrates how the live performance sector has suffered gravely as a result of the pandemic.
“We’re really concerned about what’s going on with COVID and with the recurrence of different variants. The fact is that [artists] can’t perform, and that’s a problem,” said Hedy Fry, member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre and chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
“Our workers in the live performance sector are not only critical to the Canadian economy, but more importantly they bring stories and musical performances that we all love to see on stages across the country,” said Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian heritage, in a news release from Feb. 1. “The Canada Live Performance Workers Resilience Fund will help support our artists and skilled technicians, so they are ready and able to bring our stages back to life when the time comes, giving Canadians and visitors the amazing cultural experiences they are craving and miss so much right now.”
The Canada Live Performance Workers Resilience Fund will help support our artists and skilled technicians, so they are ready and able to bring our stages back to life when the time comes, giving Canadians and visitors the amazing cultural experiences they are craving and miss so much right now.Rodriguez
Funding applications are open to organizations that serve independent and self-employed workers in the live performance sector, including but not limited to unions, guilds, arts service organizations and Indigenous Peoples institutions.
The program will “seek to fund new or improved industry-led and implemented initiatives to improve the economic, professional and personal circumstances of Canadian workers in the live performance sector,” said David Larose, a media relations representative from the Department of Canadian Heritage, in an email..
This includes musicians, actors, directors, choreographers, designers and technicians. Examples of such initiatives include emergency financial assistance for individual performing arts workers; professional development workshops or webinars; services such as career, financial, legal and personal counselling; and mentorship opportunities.
While the Omicron wave may be ending, difficult times still lie ahead for many performing arts professionals as they transition back into live performance and “normal” life.
“How do we continue to get life moving? How do we get performers to perform? That’s at the core of this temporary fund,” said Fry.
The deadline to apply for the Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund is today: Friday, March 4.
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