As more Quebec artists get back to work, province announces $250M for cultural sector

TV and movie productions set to continue next Monday — with social distancing measures in place.

Film and TV production can resume June 8 with new health guidelines

Starting June 8, movie and TV productions will be allowed to resume in Quebec, but personnel must respect the health guidelines set out by the province's workplace health and safety board.

In a bid to revitalize Quebec's cultural sector, the provincial government announced Monday that it is investing an extra $250 million to encourage Quebec's creative professionals and artists to start producing again. 

Recording studios can reopen starting today, and filming for TV and movies will be allowed to resume on June 8. Productions have to respect the two-metre rule and other guidelines provided by Quebec's workplace health and safety board

But the province's concert halls and theatres are staying closed for now.

"We also hope performances with a limited number of spectators will resume before St-Jean-Baptiste," said Quebec culture minister Nathalie Roy at a news conference in Montreal announcing the funding. 

This new investment will inject funds for grants and loans for those cultural enterprises that had to close during the pandemic, as well as for performance arts companies and music projects. Also included is an emergency fund for artists.

The total budget for cultural funding in the province this fiscal year now amounts to $400 million.

The province said it took  into consideration that it will be more expensive and time-consuming to create art while during a pandemic as crews need to keep their distance and take other precautions while filming.

"We've been working with respecting the principles of distancing and hygiene, so that our artists don't fall ill either. It would be really sad to lose some of our artists, particularly those who are at risk, but I think we do have to reopen this element," said Dr. Horacio Arruda, the public health director for the province.

He said artists provide an essential service to society.

Arruda also asked artists to reinvent the ways they perform and distribute their art, while Premier François Legault said  the government will be looking into developing more digital platforms if they feel there is a need. 

According to statistics from the Quebec government, over 146,000 people were employed in the province's cultural industry in 2016.

Many of those artists aw their main sources of income dry up during the COVID-19 pandemic, as concerts, plays and TV and film productions were either postponed indefinitely or cancelled.

'Losses that we'll never recover'

But some in Montreal's anglophone creative industry say they feel left behind by the announcement.

"They talk about having consulted with the community, but they certainly haven't talked to us," said Eda Holmes, the artistic director at Centaur Theatre. 

She said that while more funding is welcome, what the government offered today is not enough.

"They don't, in any way, come close. We have losses that we'll never recover from cancelled performances and cancelled contracts, and we have no way to completely pivot our creation model in a minute in order to become a digital art form."

Holmes said she feels there is a lack of understanding on the government's part about what organizations like hers are up against, and said there has been little communication from the government. 

"I'm just concerned that they're not even really thinking about us, that's what it feels like," said Holmes. 

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