Canada House
March 16, 2020

Putting People First: COVID-19 and the Canada Council for the Arts

March 16, 2020

Last updated: March 17, 2020

Dear artists and cultural workers,

We fully support all measures taken by the authorities in our country to try to limit the spread of the pandemic and its harmful consequences for human beings, especially the most vulnerable among us.

We appreciate the devastating impact that measures of isolation and social distancing will have on the arts and culture sector, which are directly dependent on audience attendance and domestic and international travel for their creative, production and dissemination activities. Cancellations and postponements of performances, festivals and other events, as well as the closure of museums, cinemas, libraries and other cultural venues, will weaken a great many organizations and compromise thousands of artists and cultural workers who find themselves without work and in many cases without income.

We are in an emergency situation and we are already dealing with exceptional circumstances daily, on a case-by-case basis. We are also working intensely with the Department of Canadian Heritage to develop proposals for short-term measures to help the sector get through this crisis, the duration and scope of which no one knows at this time. I can assure you that you will be the first to be informed of these measures as soon as the government's decisions have been made, which will not be long in coming.

For the time being, it is very important that you accurately document your lost revenues as the results of deferrals and cancellations directly related to the measures taken to control the spread of COVID-19. I also invite you to visit our COVID-19: Info update page to find answers to questions you may have.

Things change from hour to hour. We must follow the directions of public authorities to protect and save lives. The consequences of this situation on our sector will be manifold and will undoubtedly manifest themselves over a long period of time. There is no single person who knows what to do and no one alone will have the resources to address the impacts of what we are currently facing. But, first and foremost, people must be taken care of. We must reassure and help the most vulnerable, and mobilize resources to enable them to overcome this situation with dignity. This is our commitment at the Council. I invite you to remain attentive to the announcements that will come and to be understanding because we are obliged to scale our operations down to the essentials while our teams are dispersed in a generalized context of telework imposed by the current circumstances.

Times are difficult, but the world needs even more art, literature and culture to continue to hope, to understand each other, and to survive. This is what motivates us to do everything we can to take care of artists, and the people around them, who keep the flame burning.

Simon Brault
Director and CEO


Updates on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting our programs and services.