Highlighted content updated March 26, 2020

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the BC Arts Council would like to reaffirm that our top priority remains the health and safety of everyone, including those who make up B.C.’s arts and culture sector – artists, creative workers, staff, volunteers, patrons, as well as audience members and participants. We recognize the immense and unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having, and will likely continue to have, on the B.C. arts and culture sector, including impacts on our funded projects and organizations.

To help address these impacts, we’ve made significant updates to our policies and programs which are outlined in the FAQs below and on the relevant program pages on our website. In making these changes, we have been guided by four key objectives, to:

  • support the sustainability of arts and culture organizations;
  • provide access to funding as quickly as possible;
  • ensure that projects funded to date and to be funded are not penalized by the unprecedented situation; and
  • support the continuation of projects and activities.

We are committed to keeping you informed. The most up-to-date information will always be posted on this page and also be available on individual program web pages. Updates will also be announced on BC Arts Council  Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS:  March 26, 2020

The ministry and the BC Arts Council  have been working hard to develop an immediate and responsive plan to support the arts and culture sector through the COVID-19 Crisis. We hope that by providing immediate assistance to our funded organizations we will, not only help with their sustainability, but also that of artists and arts and cultural workers. Within the current BC Arts Council budget, we are implementing the initiatives listed below.

These measures are a first step. We are hopeful these actions will provide support for your organization and work.

Staff are working diligently to develop plans for the coming months and will be continuing to work with colleagues across government to implement the provincial COVID-19 Action Plan announced on March 23, 2020.

  1. 50% advance of operating grants for Operating Clients:

Spring and Fall Operating Assistance clients will be receiving 50% of their last year’s operating grant as a advance for the next intake cycle (April and September) in early April.  This funding is being delivered in order to support organizational sustainability and artists and arts and cultural workers.

  1. Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement

Operating Assistance clients and eligible project clients will receive a one-time supplement in early April in order to further support organizations during this unprecedented time.  This supplement is designed to provide flexibility for organizations. Organizations can choose how they spend the funding, guided by the principles of organizational sustainability and supporting the artists and arts and cultural workers you rely on.

This one-time grant will range (maximum $15,000) depending on the size of your organization.

  1. Program Amendments, Extension of Deadlines and Program Deferrals
  • We have implemented a blackout period on funding for activities taking place between now and June 30 that involve travel and/or in-person gatherings. We will extend this as needed to respond to COVID-19 and following directives of the Provincial Health Officer and the B.C. government.
  • We have extended the deadlines for Professional Projects, Arts Based Community Development and Scholarships.
  • We have deferred the Spring intakes for Touring and Professional Development until the August intake.

We have updated our FAQ by themes. 

For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 please refer to the following sites:

BC COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information
BC Centre for Disease Control
Healthlink BC
Province of BC news releases
Government of Canada’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel Advice
Small business supports

Staff Operations

 

  1. Will BC Arts Council program staff be available for questions during this time?

To comply with physical distancing measures and other public health recommendations, BC Arts Council staff are primarily working remotely but remain available during regular business hours. Now more than ever, we recognize how important it is that we are available to answer questions about our programs and changes to “business as usual.”

That said, it is an unusually busy time, so please be patient if you encounter delays in response times.

Please see the BC Arts Council staff directory for contact information.

Projects that involve travel or in-person gatherings

We are placing a temporary blackout period on new applications for activities that involve travel and/or in-person gatherings taking place between March 26th until June 30th.  This date could be adjusted if the current provincial and federal orders and directives in place are extended.

If you have applied for funding for a project that involves travel or gatherings during blackout dates, please contact your program officer by email to discuss possible changes to timeline or scope. Applications for projects involving travel or gathering that takes place during blackout dates will be deemed ineligible.

Any successful applications involving future travel or in-person gatherings may receive conditional grants depending on their ability to postpone events until after the government eases its restrictions on travel and gatherings.

  1. What should I do if I’ve already received a grant for a project that involves travel?

Given current government directives around physical distancing and travel we are asking all clients to adjust, reschedule or postpone any projects that involve travel scheduled to take place prior to June 30th, in accordance with the blackout period above. We also recommend that you delay making future travel arrangements until the provincial and federal governments lift the advisories and orders currently in place.

As the global virus situation changes rapidly, we advise that you regularly consult the most up to date information and direction on COVID-19 through links provided above.

See additional FAQs below and contact your program officer to discuss options for your grant funding if you need to cancel or postpone your plans.

  1. What should I do if I have received a grant for a project that involves in-person gatherings of any size or public programming?

Given current government directives around physical distancing, we are asking all clients to adjust, reschedule or postpone any projects that involve in-person gatherings of any size scheduled to take place prior to June 30th, in accordance with the blackout period above. As the global virus situation changes rapidly, we advise that you regularly consult the most up-to-date information and direction on COVID-19 through links provided above.

See additional FAQs below and contact your program officer to discuss options for your grant funding if you need to cancel or postpone your plans.

Cancelled or postponed events and activities for which you have already received funding.

 

  1. I have cancelled/postponed, or want to cancel/postpone, my tour, project or event. What are my options?

As a result of COVID-19, we understand that there will be cancellations and/or postponement of tours, projects and events. Our preferred option will be to help you find a way to realize your project even if that means adapting timelines and/or scope. Please contact your program officer by email to discuss significant changes, such as cancellations, adjustments in scope, or date changes beyond the original project end date. We will always work with you to find creative and flexible approaches to uphold the original intention of your funded project, including remote or virtual solutions.

Minor adjustments to your plans as a result of COVID-19 that can be accommodated within the scope of the original proposal and project dates can be accounted for in the reporting process and there is no need to contact the office. Changes to operating activity as a direct result of COVID-19 will not affect future assessments.

We understand that given the rapidly changing nature of the global virus situation you may be unable to contact the office prior to making changes. Please ensure that any changes to your project are fully documented in your final report.

Operating Assistance funding

 

  1. My organization receives Operating Assistance and our programming plans have been cancelled or altered due to COVID-19. Will this impact my core grant?

Operating assistance clients will not be required to have replacement programming for events or activities that are delayed, changed or cancelled due to COVID-19. It is expected that operating funds received that are unable to be allocated as planned will be repurposed for future programming and sustainability needs.

Organizations will need to account for the changes to operating activities and allocations through future application and reporting processes. Please advise your program officer via email of any program changes or reallocations. Changes to operating activity as a direct result of COVID-19 will not affect future assessments.

  1. I am an existing Operating Assistance client; will there be changes to the Operating Assistance program as a result of COVID-19?

The spring 2020 intake of Operating Assistance, with an April 15 deadline, will be suspended until further notice.  In its place, existing clients in all spring Operating Assistance programs will receive the equivalent of 50% of their previous year grant amount as an advance on 2020/21 operating grants.

This advance will be issued automatically. You do not need to apply but must be registered in the online system.

Further information will be available on the program pages and emailed directly to the affected applicant groups, including:

The BC Arts Council has taken this step in recognition of the diminished capacity of organizations currently grappling with the implications of COVID-19 to prepare operating grant applications at this time, as well as the need to support cash flow within the sector.

At this moment, the September 30 deadline for Fall Operating Assistance programs has not changed; Fall Operating Assistance clients will also receive 50% of last year’s operating grant in early April. The Fall intake includes:

  • Service Organizations
  • Book Publishers
  • Media Arts Organizations
  • Public Museums and Indigenous Cultural Centres
  • Professional Arts Festivals
  • Visual Arts Organizations
  • Community Arts Organizations
  1. My organization does not currently receive Operating Assistance, but we were wanting to apply to the program this year. Will we be able to?

Due to the suspension of the Spring 2020 Operating Assistance deadline, applicants who are not currently receiving Operating Assistance will not be able to apply to the programs at this time.

Please note that this is an interim measure until we have a better understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 on the arts and culture sector in the province.

Please continue to check FAQs and relevant program pages or contact the program officer for further detail on the Operating Assistance program as it becomes available.

Eligible expenses

 

  1. If I decide to cancel my funded tour, project or event, will I have to pay back the grant?

If you are unable to complete your project as planned as a result of COVID-19 we ask that you contact your program officer by email to discuss a project timeframe extension or other alternatives for the remainder of the funds.

Please only contact the program officer to discuss significant changes, such as cancellations, adjustments in scope, or dates of activities beyond the original project end date; minor adjustments to your plans as a result of COVID-19 that can be accommodated within the scope of the original proposal and project dates can be accounted for in the reporting process.

Despite delays, changes or cancellations, organizations and individuals are encouraged to prioritize any obligations you have made to pay artists and other arts and culture workers and suppliers.

You will NOT be required to pay back any expenses that you have already incurred and that were included as part of the original project proposal.

  1. I have incurred additional expenses related to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. Can I use grant funds to cover these expenses?

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are being as flexible as possible in how existing grants are allocated within projects to support artists, organizations and the proposed outcomes of the funded activities. Some ineligible or extraordinary expenses may be considered eligible. If you have questions about eligible expenses, please contact your program officer by email.

Upcoming deadlines and program changes

 

  1. I have submitted a grant application for a project that may be impacted by COVID-19. How will this impact the assessment of my grant?

A temporary blackout has been placed on new funding and applications for activities that involve travel and/or in-person gatherings between March 26th and June 30th, including applications to programs with upcoming deadlines.  This date could be adjusted if the current provincial and federal orders and directives in place are extended.

If you have applied for funding for a project involving travel or gatherings during blackout dates, please contact your program officer by email to discuss possible changes to timeline or scope. Projects involving travel or gatherings that takes place during blackout dates will be deemed ineligible.

Eligible funding applications will be assessed based on the published program guidelines and the assumptions addressed within the proposal. We want to support organizations and projects that have the greatest impact and significance for the sector and if your project is funded on these grounds, we will work with you to help realize the project while upholding the most recent government direction and public health advisories.

Any successful applications involving travel or gatherings may receive conditional grants depending on their ability to postpone events until after the government eases its restrictions on travel and gatherings.

  1. Are you making changes to program guidelines as a result of COVID-19?

Program guidelines, applications and final report forms may be adjusted to address COVID-19 feasibility or contingencies. Please ensure you are working with the most up-to-date version of all program information.

Funding applications will be assessed based on the published program guidelines and the assumptions addressed within the proposal. We want to support organizations and projects that have the greatest impact and significance for the sector and if your project is funded on these grounds, we will work with you to help realize the project while upholding the most recent government direction and public health advisories.

Any successful applications involving travel or gatherings may receive conditional grants depending on the developing COVID-19 situation.

  1. Are you making changes to program deadlines?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the following program deadlines have been extended:

  • Arts-Based Community Development & Leon and Thea Koerner Award: the April 15 deadline for has been extended to May 15.
  • Scholarships: the April 30 deadline has been extended to May 15.
  • Professional Project Assistance (Spring intake): The program intake period has been delayed and will launch in early April, with a new extended deadline of May 30. The following Professional Project Assistance programs will be impacted:
    • Professional Arts Training
    • Dance Projects
    • Music Projects
    • Theatre Projects
    • Literary Organizations
    • Arts Periodicals
  1. Will any programs be cancelled as a result of COVID-19?

In order to respond as effectively as possible to the COVID-19 crisis, and given current government directives on physical distancing and non-essential travel, intakes for the following programs are cancelled:

  • Touring Initiatives (April 1 deadline): In light of physical distancing and travel advisories and the announced blackout period, the April 1 deadline for Touring Initiatives has been cancelled.We encourage applicants with projects that are not within the blackout period (March 26-June 30, see above) to apply to the next program intake, which has a deadline of August 1, 2020. The program deadline will be automatically extended to August 1, 2020; you do not need to reapply if you already have an application in the system. If you have already submitted an application and need to revise it prior to the August 1 deadline, please contact your program officer who can revert the application back to you for editing.You can apply for support for activities taking place before the August 1 cut-off, as long as you submit your application before your activity begins, however results will not be available until later in the Fall.
  • Professional Development (April 1 deadline): In light of physical distancing and travel advisories and the announced blackout period, the April 1 deadline for the Professional Development program has been cancelled.We encourage applicants with projects that are not within the blackout period of June 30 (see above) to apply to the next program intake, which has a deadline of August 1, 2020. The program deadline will be automatically extended to August 1, 2020; you do not need to reapply if you already have an application in the system. If you have already submitted an application and need to revise it prior to the August 1 deadline, please contact your program officer who can revert the application back to you for editing.You can apply for support for activities taking place before the August 1 cut-off, as long as you submit your application before your activity begins, however results will not be available until later in the Fall.
  • Enhanced Capacity: Both Spring and Fall intakes for Enhanced Capacity funding in 2020/21 have been cancelled.

The funds that had originally been allocated for Enhanced Capacity this year will be redirected to support the arts and culture sector’s resilience in facing the impacts of COVID-19 (see Section 8 for more details).  Funds already dedicated in Enhanced Capacity for interim clients in for 2020/ 2021 will remain available for these clients.

Financial support for artists and organizations

 

  1. Will the BC Arts Council be offering any additional funds to support organizations through this crisis?

Yes. The BC Arts Council is launching an Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement in April to support organizational sustainability. The Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement will be a small contribution to help mitigate these effects.

Operating Assistance Clients and Project Clients will receive a one-time supplement in early April in order to further support organizations during this unprecedented time.

This supplement is designed to provide flexibility for organizations. Organizations can choose how they spend the funding, guided by the principles of organizational sustainability and supporting the artists and arts and cultural workers you rely on.

This one-time grant will range (maximum $15,000) depending on the size of your organization.

  1. Who will be eligible to receive the Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement?

Current Operating Assistance clients will automatically receive a supplement based on the size of the organization (maximum $15,000).

Eligible project clients will also be able to access the supplement; the exact mechanism for that is being developed and will be announced in the coming days.

  1. What do you mean by supporting organizational sustainability?

We understand that organizations continue to have ongoing fixed costs at the same time as they are seeing earned revenue diminish or decrease substantially in this unprecedent situation. In the short-term, we will be providing the Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement to help address immediate needs.

This is a first step. We are developing longer term measures and we will have more to share in the next few weeks.

  1. What do you mean by supporting artists and cultural workers?

The BC Arts Council recognizes that artists and cultural workers exist within precarious work and employment conditions, often as self-employed or contract workers. They are also the driving force of our artistic and cultural sector and the broader creative economy.

  1. What additional support is available to cover operational or financial implications of COVID-19 on our organization?

We are aware of the unprecedented and significant implications of COVID-19 on organizations within the arts and culture sector.

In addition to the changes addressed elsewhere in these FAQs, the BC Arts Council and the Ministry are developing specific approaches to address the financial implications of COVID-19 on arts and culture organizations, the details of which will be announced shortly.

The Province of British Columbia has announced its COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes deferred tax filing and payment deadlines. The Province also announced that as part of the longer-term recovery plan, dedicated funding will be made available for particularly hard-hit parts of the economy, including the cultural sector.

Government of Canada has announced its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses, which includes measures for individuals, small businesses and non-profits.

  1. What support is available to cover the impacts of COVID-19 on individual artists and cultural workers due to lost wages, contracts, and other opportunities?

We are aware of the unprecedented and significant implications of COVID-19 on individual practitioners within the arts and culture sector.

In addition to the changes addressed elsewhere in these FAQs, the BC Arts Council and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture are developing specific approaches to address the financial implications of COVID-19 on arts and cultural organizations, and by extension, artists and cultural workers. The details of this approach will be announced shortly.

The Province has announced their COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes a new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers which will provide a tax-free $1000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak.

The Government of Canada has announced its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses. The plan includes measures for individuals such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which will provide a taxable benefit of $2000 a month for up to four months to:

  • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.