Canada House
August 04, 2020

Letter to the arts community from the Director and CEO, Simon Brault

December 11, 2020

Additional funding for the arts

When can the recovery truly begin and what will it look like? Even if we can’t say for sure, we can prepare.

In its 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the federal government announced $181.5M in additional funds in 2021‒22 for the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts to enhance their support to the arts sector.

With these funds, the Council plans to support projects that create jobs.

Direct support for arts and culture

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, organizations have cancelled, postponed, or significantly reduced their creation, production, and dissemination activities. The economic and psychological burden of the pandemic has been mostly shouldered by artists, designers, performers, and technicians who have been out of work.

What’s more, we are seeing an exodus of cultural workers to sectors that are able to function at full capacity. That’s in addition to the young people and early-career artists who are reassessing their career choices in this moment. The result is an incalculable and progressive loss of creative human capital and the potential sacrifice of a future generation of artists.

Through various initiatives, such as early distribution of core funding, Digital Originals, Community Cares, and emergency funding, we have been able to proceed with the largest investments we have ever made to support organizations, groups, and artists. We are especially proud to have bolstered our support to diverse and Indigenous artists, in addition to having awarded a significant number of grants to first-time recipients. I am continuing to work with my colleagues behind the scenes to put forward proposals to the government—more particularly to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, who has lent an attentive ear to learn about the findings from the Canada Council’s research and surveys—and our related advice.

Preparing for rapid action to launch projects and offer work

I expect the details on the funding announced in the Economic Statement to be revealed in early 2021. As soon as we get the green light, we will announce our initiatives, and we intend to distribute the funding very quickly. It is urgent that we support those who have been without work thus far.

If you have research and creation projects that require hiring collaborators, now is the time to define the broad strokes. If you are part of an artistic group or organization, now is also the time to consider creative projects for new works or adaptations of existing works that will enable you to share your artistic and literary creations with broader audiences via digital technology. In that case as well, we are looking for proposals that require you to hire artists and experts, who need to work to get through the pandemic. Once again, please be ready.

The essential nature of the arts

We are living in a time of great uncertainty. But I want to reiterate that some certainties are unshakeable: the essential nature of the arts in our lives and the development of our societies is an absolute.

Before the new funding is made available, we will have the opportunity to discuss the last year and our vision for the future with you and with the broader public. And so I encourage you to add our 2021 Annual Public Meeting to your calendars. It will be held at 4 p.m. ET on January 26, 2021. At the Annual Public Meeting, I will share our proposal to make 2021 a transition year between what came before the pandemic and the rebuilding of our sector on a more solid, inclusive, fair, and sustainable foundation.

In closing, I want to thank you for your confidence, and I salute your courage and your efforts to fly the arts and culture flag high and proud during these difficult times. I wish you restorative holidays. I hope you take time to recuperate—and rest assured that we will be by your side more than ever after the holiday break.