To the Elected Officials of Local, Provincial, Territorial and Federal Governments in Canada
First of all thank-you for your dedication and response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We understand that keeping the people of Canada safe is your first and most important priority and that you have had to make difficult decisions during this unprecedented pandemic.
In doing so, and due to the already challenging financial realities of our companies and people, we have entered a time of extreme economic uncertainty. If live arts annual GDP contribution in 2017 was approximately $900 million and provided nearly 30,000 jobs (Statscan Table: 36-10-0453-01), one can easily estimate that for every day gatherings and tours are forbidden, beginning on March 11, 2020 when the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic, the sector will lose approximately $2.5 million and 80 jobs. Of course with future performance cancelling and tour cancelling we believe the reality is much worse and we believe on March 11 the count began with 90 days of cancellations, or $225 million and 7200 jobs.
We ask you to provide the following quick and targeted measures to make it past this pandemic and to make a full recovery:
- Make increased EI benefits available to all who work in the live arts, including independent and dependent contractors
Many artists and arts workers function as independent or dependent contractors who do not regularly receive employment insurance benefits. At this difficult time we are asking for independent and dependent contractors to have equivalent access to EI as employees. [Update: The Government of Canada announced a new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly, up to 15 weeks, to provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, and a new Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.];
- Implement an immediate moratorium on evictions and bill collections
Including property tax, utilities, gas, heat, hydro, internet, landline telephone, and mobile phone;
- Make, at minimum, a $5 Million contribution to each of The AFC, Fondation des Artistes and its affiliated funds, and Unison Benevolent Fund
To support their Emergency Financial Assistance Programs at this time of high demand;
- Advocate to the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services for Visa extensions and provide refunds on Visa fees
Provide an option to all Canadian artists, groups and their crews that have open and active Visas (P1, P2, P3, and O1) to perform in the United States to either have all the associated fees for such visas reimbursed by the Federal Government, or to have the Federal Government secure 365 day extensions on all Visas from United States Citizenship & Immigration Services;
- Provide property tax reduction for live arts venues
Provide an ongoing a fifty percent (50%) property tax reduction to all owner/operators of live arts venues, and an equivalent flow through rent reduction to all renter/operators of live arts venues. This is especially important for those that provide guaranteed payment for performing artists;
- Pay out all grants and subsidies and waive the requirement for completed activity
Immediately pay out in full all outstanding grants and subsidies awarded in the live arts, including project support and ongoing operating support, from the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, Provincial and Local Governments and Arts Councils, and all Festival Funds, and waive the requirement for completed activity. In other words provide the support awarded to individuals, collectives and companies, but do not expect that the performances associated with the support take place, which are at great risk due to Covid-19;
- Mandate and fund CBC and provincial educational broadcasters to produce and broadcast live performance studio recordings
Provide an immediate $50 million to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with complementary support to provincial education broadcasters, towards the wages, production, broadcast and streaming of live performance studio recordings, within the bounds of public health guidance;
- Give access to strategic financing
Allow Live Arts companies, including small, medium and large for-profit, not-for-profit and charitable companies, to have access to the Business Development Bank’s working capital loans and that these loans are fully forgivable;
- Enact local government provisions for quick funding of emergency relief funds for artists, arts workers and companies.
Local governments and arms length agencies often have the ability to be the quickest with key relief funds. Please give them the freedom to support those in our community who need it most; and
- Implement Live Arts Labour Tax Credits and Live Arts Labour Rebates
Provide a similar labour tax credit as seen in the screen based industries directed at for-profit live arts companies, and a matching labour rebate for not-for-profit and charitable live arts companies. Under similar rules as screen based industries, the Federal Government would provide credits/rebates equal to 25% of labour costs for live arts produced in Canada and Provinces would provide credits/rebates equal to 35% of the same.
Our community is still coming to grips with this new reality and this list is sure to grow as the community develops different needs and ideas. All those who have ideas may send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please implement these measures as soon as possible to Save Live Arts in Canada.
Image Credit: The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts (UBC) – Photo by Jeff Hitchcock (http://command-center.org/)
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