Posted 14 March 2016 by Isabelle Hudon and Simon Brault
Isabelle Hudon, Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly and Simon Brault
The initiative that we announced in December, The Arts and Culture Welcome Refugees, was officially launched today. While modest in itself ($200,000 in total), this pilot initiative is part of the wider government and civic movement to welcome Syrian refugees.
Art counts in our communities. It plays a vital role of integration and socialization. Our initiative offers arts organizations currently receiving Council funding the means to reach out to new Canadians in their communities who are refugees from Syria.
The beauty of synergy
Obviously, the initiative might seem like a drop in the vast ocean of refugee needs – and from a purely quantitative perspective, it is. But it builds onto many others. It adds to the generous contributions made by our citizens, to the neighbourhood gatherings that in the middle of winter proclaimed ‘we’re waiting for you’ with such warmth, to programs for integrating the workforce or the education system, and to countless other gestures aimed at helping Syrian refugees make a new home for themselves and become part of our vast and welcoming family.
We know that every citizen should have access to the arts. And we are convinced of the benefits of the arts on our development as individuals and as societies. We’ll be following the stories that arise out of this initiative, and reporting back on them. We want to see what works and what doesn’t, since this will help us create other occasions for bringing the arts our lives. Our promise, our engagement, is to keep on dreaming of projects that make lives better through the arts and culture.
Focus on the arts and culture
The Canada Council for the Arts and Sun Life Financial are not making this announcement today to draw attention to their initiative. The focus is not on us. We simply want to say that we are here to support arts organizations that want to open their doors to Syrian refugees, and that we also be here to celebrate acts of generosity that pave the way to integration through the arts.
About the initiative
The Arts and Culture Welcome Refugees is a complementary initiative to Canadian Heritage’s strategy for welcoming Syrian refugees. The initiative, which will run from April 1st, 2016 to March 31, 2017, will enable arts organizations currently receiving operating funding from the Canada Council to offer Syrian refugees free access to their activities. The total budget for the initiative is $200,000: the Council has budgeted $150,000, and Sun Life Financial has agreed to contribute up to $50,000.