The global COVID-19 pandemic is compelling organizations like OAC to focus on the essentials of what they do and to engage those strengths to make a difference. OAC supports the diversity and vitality of the arts in every corner of the province, ensuring the value of the arts to Ontario’s cultural life. In this time of great disruption and uncertainty for the arts sector, we are:
to the artists and arts organizations we support. We understand the pressures they are experiencing right now and we will not add to those challenges.
with as much flexibility as possible, adjusting our policies, processes and programs to help the arts sector navigate the challenges they are facing.
and advocating for artists and arts organizations through this difficult time. We’re closely monitoring the impacts of the situation and exploring additional ways to sustain the sector.
OAC’s immediate actions have been to offer as much flexibility as possible to grant recipients and applicants, and to give artists and arts organization time and space to evaluate their situation and adjust to change without having to worry about their funding.
Program deadlines and peer assessment of operating grants have been suspended for 2020. We recognize the difficulty of preparing and assessing operating grant applications while the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve. We plan to release 2021 operating grant payments as soon as possible, understanding the need for cash flow to sustain operations. Operating grant funds will not need to be returned if activities are changed or cancelled.
All spring deadlines for project programs have been extended by two weeks so that artists and arts professionals whose lives and work are impacted by COVID-19 will have extra time to develop their applications. We are also inviting applicants to explain what contingency measures they may be thinking about should COVID-19 impact their project plans.
OAC will be flexible with grant recipients facing unanticipated changes related to COVID-19. We want to provide them with every opportunity to realize their objectives even if plans need to change. We will not ask for repayment of grants for which related expenses have been incurred, including any reasonable expenses related to changes and cancellations outside of their control.
Travel and In-Person Gatherings
To align with federal and provincial government advisories, OAC will not provide new grants for activities involving travel or in-person gatherings planned to take place before June 30, 2020. Because of the disruption that COVID-19 is causing to upcoming tours and future tour planning, the next Touring Projects deadline is June 25, 2020 for tours beginning this fall or later. The Market Development Travel Assistance program will be suspended while we consider new approaches to supporting market development activities.
OAC is developing plans for additional supports specific to the COVID-19 situation. We are also communicating with the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
to share information about impacts on the arts sector, and to ensure the continued vitality of the arts in Ontario.
Mapping COVID-19 Impacts on Ontario’s Arts Sector
OAC has completed a mini-survey of OAC-funded organizations across all sectors to get a sense of the high-level impact figures in Ontario. This complements the more detailed work being done by sector-specific Arts Service Organizations (ASOs), which OAC is also following. OAC will do a comprehensive analysis later in the year once we have a fuller picture of the impacts.
As we connect with applicants OAC staff are collecting stories so that we can better support the needs of the arts community in the short and longer-term. Along the way, we are hearing many accounts of hardship, and also ones that inspire. While finding bright spots in this situation is challenging, the resilience and creativity of artists has become a vital source of connection and hope for individuals and communities across Ontario practicing physical distancing and isolation.
We will continue to listen and respond to concerns as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and we will do everything we can to protect the diversity and vitality of artists and arts organizations in order to ensure that they remain at the heart of our province’s cultural life.
While OAC’s office space has been closed since March 17th
, OAC staff members are working from home and we continue to be available during regular business hours. We recognize how important it is that we are available to answer questions help applicants and recipients navigate changes to our policies and programs in relation to their activities.