Ottawa

NAC says $18.2M in federal relief 'a beacon of light'

The National Arts Centre says a cash payout from the federal government is enough to wipe away its deficit and cover operational costs in the coming months as it plans for an eventual reopening.

National Arts Centre lost all commercial revenue during COVID-19 shutdown

The National Arts Centre has cancelled performances and closed its box office until at least Aug. 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The National Arts Centre says a cash payout from the federal government is enough to wipe away its deficit and cover operational costs in the coming months as it plans for an eventual reopening.

Canadian Heritage announced on Twitter Tuesday it will be providing $18.2 million in emergency relief to the NAC to help cover debts and expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annabelle Cloutier, spokesperson for the NAC, said the funding amounts to a "beacon of light" for the arts organization.

"Now, with this help, it means we're going to be able to get through the coming months and hopefully recover from this," Cloutier said on Tuesday.

In 2019, about $30 million of the NAC's $43.6 million in revenue came from commercial and programming while the centre received $50.5 million in parliamentary appropriations, according to its annual report. It's expenses were $94 million for the year.

Cloutier said over the last four months commercial and performance revenue streams, like ticket sales, theatre rentals and parking, have dried up. 

Even while the NAC cut costs by letting go hundreds of part-time staff members, like ushers and waiters, the centre still faced a mounting deficit in the millions.

"This amount will allow us to help with the deficit that was accumulating since March and get us through the coming months," she said of the federal funding. 

The NAC plans to use at least some of the $18.2 million toward installing plexiglass and signs in preparation of a return to live performances or at the very least, box office sales.

Cloutier hopes the NAC will be able to bring back audiences later this year but the timing will depend on public health guidelines.

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