COVID-19 Information & Support
We are committed to keeping you informed. The most up-to-date information regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be posted below and on individual program pages.
You can find up-to-date information on the Government of B.C.’s response to COVID-19, including current public health orders and details on provincial supports here.
For up-to-date information on the Government of Canada’s response to COVID-19 go here.
Further information for the arts and culture sector is provided by ActSafe.
While every effort is made to keep the information provided here as up to date as possible, please note that it is subject to change depending on changes to public health orders or advisories and ongoing adjustments to our policies and programs.
To read content, please click on the appropriate topic heading below.
The top priority of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport and the BC Arts Council is the health and safety of everyone, including those who make up B.C.’s arts and culture sector.
We recognize the immense and unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having, and will continue to have, on the B.C. arts and culture sector. In making changes to our policies and programs to meet these wide-ranging challenges, we have been guided by the following key objectives:
- To support the sustainability of arts and culture organizations;
- To support artists and arts and culture workers;
- To provide access to funding as efficiently as possible;
- To ensure that funded projects and activities are not penalized by the unprecedented situation; and
- To support the safe continuation of projects and activities.
In addition to the advance of operating assistance funds in 2020/21 and stable operating funding for the 2021/22 grant cycle, the BC Arts Council has provided COVID-19 Response Funding to support the sector through the pandemic. For more information on that funding, see the relevant section below on this page.
BC Arts Council staff are available, Monday to Friday, during regular business hours. Please see the BC Arts Council staff directory for contact information.
BC Arts Council staff are, at present, primarily working remotely.
During this unusually busy time, there may be some delays in responding to queries. We do acknowledge how important it is that we are available to answer questions and will do our best to get back to you promptly. Thank you for your patience if there are delays.
In keeping with the Government of Canada’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada, the BC Arts Council will maintain a blackout on funding for activities that include international travel. This blackout will remain in effect until further notice.
Please consult the Government of Canada’s travel and tourism page if you are planning any international travel.
Current BC Arts Council Scholarship awards to support international study are not affected by this blackout.
National & Provincial Travel
Applications for activities that involve travel within Canada can be submitted, however you must follow the public health protocols that are in place in the jurisdiction(s) where the activity is scheduled to take place.
Any funded activity is subject to following the latest public health orders and advisories. For up-to-date information on current public health, please go to here.
With the announcement of Step 3 of the BC Restart plan on July 1, 2021, the following public gatherings are now permitted:
- Indoor organized seated gatherings: 50 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater. For example, if the venue has a normal seated capacity of 500 people, 250 people can attend.
- Outdoor organized seated gatherings: 5,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is greater. For example, if the venue has a normal seated capacity of 30,000 people, 15,000 people can attend.
If you have applied or received funding for a project that may be impacted by recent changes to the public health orders contact your program officer to discuss possible changes to your project timeline or scope.
Any funded activity is subject to following the latest public health orders and advisories. For up-to-date information please visit the B.C. Government website.
Additional detailed information for the arts and culture sector is provided by ActSafe.
Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement
Launched in April 2020, the Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement was designed to help cultural organizations and the individual artists and culture workers they contract to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The one-time grant was available to existing clients on Operating Assistance. It was also available by application to organizations who had received at least one BC Arts Council grant in the past three fiscal years through one of the Project Assistance programs.
Launched in May 2020 as a pilot project in response to the pandemic, the Microgrant Program supported professional artists and cultural practitioners to adapt either existing projects or their professional practice to respond to current changes in the arts and culture sector.
This program was made possible by a generous donation from the Yosef Wosk Family Foundation and funding from the City of Vancouver.
Vancouver Foundation – Community Response Fund
The BC Arts Council supported the Arts and Culture stream of the Vancouver Foundation’s Community Response Fund. This fund deployed essential relief of to charities offering arts, culture, and other community programming and services.
Launched in October 2020 and delivered by the BC Arts Council as part of the B.C. Government’s $21 million arts and culture resilience plan, the Pivot Program supported arts and culture organizations as they adapted their programs and practices in response to the pandemic, including the following streams:
- Organizational Development and Transition
- Adaptation in Artistic Practices
The funding for the Pivot Program came through StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.
Expanded Arts & Culture Resilience Supplement
Launched in November 2020 as part of the B.C. Government’s $21 million arts and culture resilience plan, the BC Arts Council delivered the Expanded Arts & Culture Resilience Supplement (EACRS), to support arts and culture organizations financially impacted by COVID-19. Assistance was available to:
- current BC Arts Council Operating Assistance clients; and
- arts and culture organizations who have received at least one BC Arts Council project grant in the past five years within eligible programs.
The funding for the expanded supplement came through StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.
Pivot for Individuals
Launched in January, 2021, Pivot for Individuals assisted professional artists, cultural practitioners, and arts administrators to adapt, transition or develop their practice. The new program was created to help arts and cultural professionals respond to changes in the sector or undertake learning activities to sustain or advance their career.
Sector Equity for Anti-Racism in the Arts
The BC Arts Council has contributed $50,000 to #POWERSHARE: A COVID-19 Relief Fund for Black, Indigenous & Racialized Artists. To find out more about this initiative and how you can contribute, visit the SEARA website.
Stronger BC March 2021 Resilience Supplement
In March 2021, the BC Arts Council administered $14 million in additional resilience supplements to arts and culture organizations across the province. The funding came through StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.
In order to best respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, some program guidelines, applications, and final report forms have been adjusted. Please ensure you work with the most up-to-date version of all program information available on the website.
Notable changes to program guidelines and policies will be posted on our news page.
Changes to Project Assistance Programs
Youth Engagement Program
The Youth Engagement Program was been temporarily suspended for 2020/21. You can learn more about the Youth Engagement Program on the program page.
Intake to this program is currently suspended. Please check the website in the fall for program announcements.
Intake to this program is currently suspended. Please check the website in the fall for program announcements.
Intake to this program for 2021 is currently suspended.
Changes to 2021/22 Operating Assistance Programs
Existing Operating Assistance recipients will receive stable operating funding for the 2021/22 grant cycle through a simplified application process. The BC Arts Council will only accept applications from organizations who have received Operating Assistance in the previous year. The intention of this approach is to maintain stability and consistency to meet the current realities the sector is experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Operating Assistance Clients and Current Programming Commitments
Clients with Operating Assistance grants are not 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 not allocated as planned will be repurposed for future programming and to support an organization’s sustainability.
Please advise your program officer via email of any program changes or reallocations. Organizations have an opportunity account for changes to operating activities and allocations through a streamlined Activity Report. Organizations will need to account for the changes to operating activities and allocations through future application and reporting processes.
Changes to operating activity as a direct result of COVID-19 will not affect future assessments.
Clients with Project Assistance Grants
We understand that there will continue to be cancellations, alterations and/or postponement of tours, projects, and events as a result of COVID-19. 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. We will work with you to find creative and flexible approaches to uphold the original intention of your project.
Organizations and individuals are encouraged to prioritize commitments they have made to pay artists, arts and culture workers, and suppliers, even if there have been cancelations or delays.
We understand that decisions may need to be made quickly and that you may be unable to contact your program officer prior to making changes. If this is the case, please ensure that you inform your program officer as soon as possible, and that any changes to your project are fully documented in your final report.
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.
Additional or Previously Ineligible Expenses
We recognize funded projects may experience additional expenses related to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are being as flexible as possible in how funds from existing projects are allocated to support artists, organizations, and the proposed project outcomes. Some normally ineligible or extraordinary expenses may be considered eligible. If you have questions about eligible expenses, please contact your program officer by email.
The following is a list of supports and resources for the arts and culture sector both provincially and federally. While not exhaustive, we hope that the list is a useful starting point for those looking for more information or support.
Other Provincial supports and resources
Federal arts and culture supports
- Canada Council COVID-19 Funding
- Government of Canada: COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations