Weekly x COVID-19 /01

In this unprecedented time of crisis, ARCA will publish a weekly newsletter to update our subscribers on evolving measures announced by the federal government, as well as other relevant information. These updates will help individuals, collectives and artist-run centres to navigate these extraordinary circumstances and reflect on recovery strategies for the far side of this crisis.





Weekly x COVID-19 x Hebdo

April 2, 2020In this unprecedented time of crisis, ARCA will publish a weekly newsletter to update our subscribers on evolving measures announced by the federal government, as well as other relevant information. These updates will help individuals, collectives and artist-run centres to navigate these extraordinary circumstances and reflect on recovery strategies for the far side of this crisis.


Canada Council for the Arts Webinar

On Monday, March 30, national arts service organizations (NASO) participated in a teleconference with senior management from the Canada Council for the Arts, who provided some behind-the-scenes perspective on emergency measures being put in place by the federal government, as well as on the Council’s recent announcement regarding advance funding for core-funded organizations.

The Council will advance funds equivalent to 35% of the annual grants held by all core-funded organizations in the first 40 days of the 2020–21 fiscal year (starts April 1st), to allow organizations to honour their commitments to artists and workers, and to stabilize their operations.

The Council has also been cooperating with the federal government on developing measures that take into account the specificities of the arts community during the crisis. This process has resulted in the introduction of the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefits (CERB), which targets the self-employed—welcome news for our sector and its atypical workforce. At this stage, concerns remain that the criteria are not sufficiently flexible for those who have only lost some of their earnings. The Council is still in discussions to soften these criteria.


Canada Council for the Arts / Questions & Answers

What follows is an excerpt from a Q&A session from the March 30 teleconference with Council representatives. Also be sure to check out the Q&A section, regularly updated, on the CCA website:

Question–It’s great that you’re release core funding early but what about organizations supported by project funding?
Answer–Beneficiaries who cannot complete their projects due to self-isolation or quarantine may use their grants to cover their contractual commitments. The CCA will be very flexible in these circumstances.

Q–How will the CCA and the Department of Canadian Heritage support organizations that receive no funding from the CCA?
A–The CCA must respect its jurisdiction and authority, and help organizations that already have a link with the CCA—currently 1,100 organizations supported with core funding and another 700 with project funding.

Q–What about support for independent artists?
A–The CCA earmarks 50% of its support for independent artists. All funding is being maintained, except travel. Self-employed workers will be covered under the universal assistance measures announced by the federal government, and the Council continues to advocate for relaxing the eligibility criteria. Arts service organizations such as ARCA can play a role in helping independents take advantage of these measures.

Q–Will funding for the fifth and final year of doubling the CCA’s budget be paid as planned ($35 million), thus bringing the Council’s total budget to 360 million?

Q–Will the increases allocated to core grants be compromised in this context?

Q–Is the Council considering reassessing the mandate of the Digital Strategy Fund (DSF) to focus more specifically on guiding and supporting organizations as they adapt to the COVID-19 crisis? This could include not just support for the transition to work-from-home operations, but also assisting groups in developing and implementing strategies for online programming.
A–The current DSF mandate is already broad enough to assist in managing this crisis. It supports shifting business models. Also note that we have a rolling deadline for the DSF for <50K grants. These can be used to deal with many of these challenges.

Q–Given the mass migration to online presentation of works, enormous gaps governing online programming become more evident and acute. For example, there are no widely respected standards for the technical quality of audiovisual work shown online. Similarly, payment of artist fees in online contexts is a difficult conversation, which our sector has not yet fully grappled with. How will the Council ensure that its commitment to fair remuneration of artists is carried over to digital contexts?
A–Both DSF and the Innovation and Sector Development programs are very interested in supporting any project to grapple with these complex questions. I’d encourage your members to use those funds as creatively as possible. This whole conversation has been accelerated by the current situation. We think about the relaunch of the arts sector as being much broader than marketing campaigns. It’s about sector innovation, reinvention—this is why we’ve talked about the Supporting Artistic Practice program as essential for the next strategic plan.

Q–How can we expand awareness about the conditions and realities being experienced by our sector? Are there to be consultations?
A–During the crisis, the CCA is using three years of CADAC data to make recovery projections rather than trying to assess losses. Nonetheless, it’s important to document your organization’s losses to take stock of the damage and help in devising strategies for recovery. The letters from the community and data arts service organizations are currently collecting will be transmitted to the CCA’s research service. It will eventually be useful to assess your losses.


Monitoring Developments, Preparing for Recovery

For the moment, it is important to document losses even if they will not necessarily be reimbursed. The data collected will help in the development of rescue scenarios for when the crisis winds down. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the artist-run centres that have already completed the COVID-19 Impact Survey, circulated recently via your respective associations, and to encourage centres that have not yet completed it to take a few minutes to do so in the coming days.


Useful links / Canada Council for the Arts


Bookkeeping Tips From Young & Associates

Evaluating COVID-19 Impact – Approaches to Quantifying Losses

Evaluating COVID-19 Impact – Effective Bookkeeping Practices

Tips for Working Remotely – Accounting Processes & Documentation

Tips for Working Remotely – Managing Payables