Sixty-five arts organizations and culture institutions have signed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, asking that “emergency stabilization funding” be created for groups in jeopardy in the sector.
The letter was organized by the new initiative One Voice for Arts and Culture (OVAC). Signatories include directors and CEOs from the Vancouver Art Gallery, Contemporary Calgary, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Urban Shaman, the Yukon Arts Centre and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.
“It is imperative that we now act to help our struggling arts and culture sector where many organizations are facing a threat to their existence today, and all are contending with unprecedented challenges,” says the April 14 letter. “There is no doubt that in the coming weeks many of the members of our group will face a severe crisis regarding funding. Some may not be able to survive even a short period without emergency relief.”
Signatories want the federal government to consider creating equitable emergency stabilization funding for culture; amending tax rules for charitable donations to incentivize giving; finding better ways to provide financing to not-for-profits; and helping figure out ways to reduce facilities costs.
The group that organized the letter, OVAC, was started in March by a team at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA), with “a goal of ensuring the sustainability of Canadian arts and culture organizations and institutions,” says a release.
“A few weeks ago, when we were closing and our peer institutions were closing, we started calling around and seeing how everyone else was feeling,” says Brad Keast, co-founder and interim chair of OVAC and chair of MOCA Toronto. “Everyone was concerned in that moment about what it meant for members and staff and visitors and donors…. And when you looked forward a few months and everyone started to recast their cash flows, there was concern there, too.”
“We thought, this is a time when we absolutely need to work together,” says Keast. “There was consensus from everyone we spoke with that we should work together.”