Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Breaking Down the 2021 Federal Budget: What does it mean for Artists and Arts Organizations?

The past year has been a difficult one for artists and arts organizations throughout Canada as many shuttered their doors to audiences as a result of the pandemic. The road to recovery promises to be a long one; however, when Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled the 2021 Federal budget in April, she offered hope to creators and arts institutions who are continuing to struggle.

Over the course of five years, culture and tourism will see approximately $1.9 billion (including approximately $900 million from 2021-2022) to support the industries and help them rebuild. 

This investment is sorely needed. A December study from the Canadian Independent Music Association demonstrated that Canada’s independent music sector lost almost 2,000 full-time jobs and saw a decline of over $200 million in revenue over the first six months of the pandemic. While it’s still too early to tell, current estimates suggest that the music industry will not recover to pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023-2024. 

Other arts sectors tell a similar story, with employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation industries in Canada falling more than in any other sector in the past year, according to Statistics Canada.

The Canadian Music Fund will receive $70 million over three years (including up to $50 million in 2021-2022) to help the live music sector, including music venues, weather the pandemic.

The Canadian Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF) will see an extension to its 2019 supplementary funding to the amount of $8 million per year (for two years). The Building Communities program and Celebration and Commemoration Programs will also see additional investments over a three-year period. The Canadian Cultural Spaces Fund (CSF) will receive $15 million dollars to distribute to arts and heritage institutions to upgrade their facilities to meet public health guidelines. 

In addition to these investments, Canadian Heritage will also receive an additional $300 million over two years (starting in 2021-2022) to establish a Recovery Fund for the arts, culture, heritage and sports sectors. With no additional information available at this time, it’s uncertain as to who this funding will be made available to, or how it may assist in recovery. 

The importance of festivals to tourism was also specifically highlighted through two separate investments. The first offers $200 million through Canadian Heritage to support community festivals and other events, while an additional $200 million will be made available through regional development agencies to support major festivals.

In addition to live performing arts, other art forms were also recognized through this year’s budget. This includes the announcement of $105 million over three years to Telefilm Canada, $60 million over three years to the Canadian Media Fund; $40.1 million over three years to the Indigenous Screen Office; $5 million to the National Film Board and $21 million to the CBC/Radio Canada. The book industry will receive $40 million over two years to assist bookstores in boosting and developing online sales.

This relief, announced through the federal budget is welcome news for the arts sector, with many having been forced to cancel annual events or entire seasons, representing millions of lost ticket revenue. While full recovery is still a long road ahead, enhancing sustainability through funding assistance until those revenues can be recouped is much needed in order for these organizations and the entire sector to return.

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