COVID-19 has devastated the Canadian arts community. With social distancing heavily encouraged, theatres, concert venues, art galleries and stores have been forced to close. Touring musicians have cancelled gigs, book launches have been postponed and film productions across the country are halted. As a result, many workers who already were in precarious positions find themselves even worse off.
On March 18, the federal government announced it was creating two new benefits to support workers not normally eligible for EI. However, the application won’t be available until April. In the meantime, there are a number of resources for artists that will help them through a difficult time — whether that’s financially, mentally or just to improve their own skills.
Following the footsteps of a group of American artists and writers who created a COVID-19 freelance artist resource list, we’ve created a Canadian companion list. This list will be updated as more resources become available. To add a resource, please email H.G. Watson.
- CBC Creative Relief Fund — In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CBC has launched The CBC Creative Relief Fund to provide immediate, urgent support to Canadian creators. The unprecedented new Fund will provide $2 million in development and production funding for a diverse range of innovative, original Canadian storytelling, including scripted comedies and dramas, unscripted entertainment, kids and young adult programming, podcasts, play adaptations and short documentaries.
- CBC and Canada Council for the Arts Digital Originals — A new $1 million fund to help artists, groups and arts organizations pivot their work to online audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Creators can apply for a maximum of $5000 in funding per project, a selection of which will be curated and digitally showcased by CBC/Radio-Canada.
- Woodcock Fund Grant — This grant provides emergency funds for writers mid-project.
- The AFC — Provides emergency financial aid for entertainment professionals.
- Unison — Provides financial aid for musicians.
- Emergency Survival Fund for LGBTQ2S artists, performers, tip-based workers – Administered by Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, this fund will help cover emergency aid and paid work for LGBTQ2S artists, performers and tip-based workers.
- Canadian Low-Income Artist/Musician Relief Fund — A group fundraising to support a relief fund.
- Behind the Scenes Basic Needs Grants — Provides financial assistance for seriously ill entertainment technology professionals in the U.S. and Canada.
- Facebook-National Arts Centre Fund for Performing Artists — Accepting applications from artists who post a 45 to 60 minute online performance between today and March 31, 2020. Financial grants will be given out from a $100,000 relief fund.
- The Photographer Fund — A $25,000 fund to help self-employed photographers facing hardship.
- Canadian Cinema Worker Fund — Fundraiser to create a fund for cinema workers who will not be compensated by their employers for the foreseeable future.
- GTA Black Community Emergency Support Fund — Artist-organized community fundraiser for Black people in the GTA, particularly those working in the gig economy.
- Toronto Arts Council — To assist Toronto artists in dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council are introducing the TOArtist COVID Response Fund. The Fund will allocate up to $1000 to self-employed, individual artists resident in Toronto whose creative work and income have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund — The Writers’ Trust of Canada and The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) announced the creation of the Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund to provide support to professional authors financially affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. The fund will begin with an initial amount of $150,000 and distribute grants in amounts of $1,500 to writers that have seen contracted or projected income evaporate due to the current public health crisis. Financial support for the program is supplied by three program partners: the Writers’ Trust, TWUC, and RBC.
- MusicTogether — A $300K emergency relief fund for Ontario musicians put together by the provincial government and members of the music community. Musicians can apply for a one-time $1,000 performance fee tied to a livestream.
- City of Windsor Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund — The City of Windsor has relaunched the Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund (ACHF), offering $60,000 worth of grant money as a means of helping support local artists whose livelihoods have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
- Ownr — A $25,000 fund to help support Canadian entrepreneurs with a grant of up to $1000 for each successful applicant.
- I Lost My Gig Canada — A space for arts and other vulnerable freelance and gig workers in Canada and beyond to share stories and resources addressing the impacts of COVID-19. Its full website launches March 20.
- Canada Council for the Arts — Canada’s public arts funder.
- The Canadian Freelance Union — A community chapter of UNIFOR focused on advancing the rights of freelancers in communications and media industries.
- CMG Freelance — A branch of the Canadian Media Guild dedicated to supporting freelance workers.
- S’ATTAQ — A labour union for freelancers.
- ACTRA — Union of professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada.
- IATSE Canadian locals — The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts represents behind-the-scenes workers in film, theatre and television.
- Canadian Actors Equity Association — Represents artists working in theatre, opera and dance.
- Writers Guild of Canada — Represents English-language screenwriters in Canada.
- Associated Designers of Canada — A national, professional non-profit arts service organization dedicated to representing the interests of set, costume, lighting, projection and sound designers.
- Canadian Federation of Musicians — Professional organization for Canadian musicians.
- Playwrights Guild of Canada — National arts service association mandated to advance the creative rights and interests of professional Canadian playwrights.
- Soutien à/de la communauté culturelle québécoise – COVID-19 — A Facebook group aimed at informing cultural workers, self-employed workers and artists on the measures in place for future government actions for financial support.
- The Photographer Fund — A $25,000 fund to help self-employed photographers facing hardship.
- Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists East — A not-for-profit that supports independent dance artists.
- The Canadian Dance Assembly — Voice of the professional dance sector in Canada.
- Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists West — An alliance of dance artists.
- The Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians — A group that advocates for comedian rights in Canada.
- UBCP/ACTRA — B.C.’s autonomous branch of ACTRA.
- Canadian Independent Music Association — A list of information and resources put together by CIMA.
- Directors Guild of Canada — A national labour organization representing creative and logistical personnel in the screen-based industry covering all areas of direction, design, production and editing.
- Actsafe — Health and safety association supporting British Columbia’s arts and entertainment industries.
- Mississauga Arts Council — Engages, connects, promotes, champions and helps develop opportunities for artists of all disciplines, ages and abilities from diverse communities to help grow the arts and culture sector in Mississauga. The organization is currently conducting a COVID-19 arts survey to better understand the impact of shutdowns on the community.
- Ontario Association of Art Galleries — The new digital platform from the OAAG for COVID-19 crisis response.
- Canadian Crafts Federation — An organization dedicated to championing craft.
- Artscape Resources for Creatives and Creative Entrepreneurs — A collection of financial resources and supports to help creatives.
Online training resources
- Skillshare — A free resource with classes on writing, acting and many more topics.
- Toronto Public Library eLearning portal — Free films and access to library materials for library card holders.
- Calgary Digital Library — Access to library materials for card holders.
- Sourceful — Publicly sourced Google Docs and Sheets.
- Sur Place — Montreal-based nonprofit offering online arts workshops.
- Isolate/Create — Free resource providing creatives with digital assets to spark creativity and inspire digital collaboration.
- Pandemic University — A pop-up writing school for, and by, locked-down and quarantined writers.
- Artscape Launchpad Learning — Free daily programming including artist talks and skill building workshops.
- Somebody’s Watching With Me — Guests pick a film, television show or image-based media they’re watching, and then connect on Instagram Live for a Q&A.
Health and mental health resources
- Crisis Services Canada — Providing suicide prevention and support. Call 1-833-456-4566.
- Distress Centres of Greater Toronto — Volunteer-delivered crisis, emotional support and suicide prevention, intervention and postvention service agency. Call 416-408-4357.
- NABS support line — Confidential and professional assistance to marketing and communications professionals. Call 1-888-355-5548.
- Unison — A toll-free number to connect Canadian music professionals with resources and support for personal and practical issues in English and French. Call 1-855-986-4766.
- TO Community response to COVID19 Facebook group — Facebook group connecting people in need with helpers in Toronto.
- Calltime; Mental Health — An initiative created by British Columbia’s motion picture industry unions to provide mental health resources for motion picture industry workers.
Temporary and remote job/volunteer opportunities
- 25+ Sites for Finding Remote Work — A list of places you may find remote work.
- Resources for Remote Work — Google Doc with job postings that can be done remotely.
- Canadian Art in Isolation — An arts initiative matching Toronto-based artists with seniors to provide works of art to be displayed in their room.
CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there’s something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at [email protected]. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.