Arts

Here's where Canadian artists and freelancers can find help during COVID-19 shutdowns

This continuously updated list will direct you to the resources you may need right now.

This continuously updated list will direct you to the resources you may need right now

Toronto's Paradise Theatre left a message on its marquee as it temporarily closed its doors. (Peter Knegt/CBC)

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.

Emergency funding

  • 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.

  • Canada Council for the Arts — While no announcement has yet been made regarding financial support for artists, Canada Council for the Arts has asked people and organizations to document the effects on their operations.

  • Toronto Arts Council — To assist Toronto artists in dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Counciare 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.

Advocacy groups

Online training resources

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/remote job opportunities

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 cbcarts@cbc.ca.

About the Author

H.G. Watson is a journalist based in Toronto. She teaches at Ryerson University, and has worked for the National Observer, TVO, J-Source and more. You can find her at hgwatson.com or on Twitter at @hg_watson.

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