Watch the COVID-19 Calgary Arts Sector Town Hall

Watch the COVID-19 Calgary Arts Sector Town Hall

Taking questions from the sector and sharing plans for the steps ahead, Calgary Arts Development hosted a virtual town hall on March 25, 2020.

During the hour-long stream on Facebook Live, President & CEO Patti Pon updated the community on what we have learned, what we are thinking about, and what actions we are taking with regard to the COVID-19 situation and its impact on our sector and communities.

The town hall was interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL), is available to read in text form, and can be viewed below or on our Facebook page at any time. You can also read our COVID-19 Response FAQs here.

Welcome. So, you know when you plan for a virtual town hall and technology fails you epically? Well, I do. I know. Cue the swear sign. This was me yesterday.

I am really sorry about the delay. Thank you all for your patience and for sticking with us and for joining us today. We are going to try this again and are confident it will all work.

Before I begin I want to share with you that today I am here on the ancestral lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy comprising the Niitsitapi, the people, who are the Kainai, Siksika, and Piikani First Nations, the Tsuut’ina people, and the Stoney Nakoda people comprised of the Chiniki, the Bearspaw, and the Wesley First Nations, and of course the Métis people of Alberta Region 3. You know, if ever there was a time when we needed a show of resiliency, it is the Original Peoples of this land who can do just that through their stories of survival and vibrancy in times of smallpox, residential schools, water emergencies, and other crises. We are blessed to have you as our guides.

Now the purpose of today is to connect with Calgary’s arts sector and arts communities to update you a bit on what’s happening here at Calgary Arts Development, to share with you what we’ve learned, and what we’re thinking because of what we’ve learned, and some actions that we’re going to be undertaking in the very near term.

That’s going to take about 20 minutes and then after that we are inviting any questions or comments that we can address through this platform and if you have any questions or comments please reach out to us through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or you can email us at and we’ll do our best to get to them all.

So, some reminders and updates first, Calgary Arts Development staff are all working, we are working remotely, and are most easily accessible by email. Please do feel free to reach out to us, if you don’t have our contact info you can go to our website and all of our staff directory is there and all of our contact info is there.

For those of you who may currently be operating grant clients, some of you have asked questions about how soon can we get our money. Well as it happens, we had identified March 31 as the deadline to submit your interim report. And I know that some of you already have, so for those of you who haven’t, get your reports into us as soon as possible and we’ll review them as quickly as we can and get your cheque out to you ASAP. We know that money can be well used right now and we want to make sure you get that. If you have any questions again, contact the community investment team.

For those of you who wanted an update on the Operating Grant+ Program that we undertook last year, you already have those dollars, if you had to change the use of those funds, keep in mind this was intended for operating purposes. Just let us know how you’re redirecting those funds given the circumstances you’re in and that the team will work with you, but you’re good, please use those funds, we don’t want anything back.

Some of you have project grants with us. I think our team has reached out to all of you, in case they haven’t, again, this is a very fluid time, so please be sure to be in touch, we are anticipating that you had to make some adjustments or changes and that’s totally okay, just let us know.

For those of you involved or who applied to [the Original Peoples Investment Program] OPIP, that deadline came on March 9, and before everything we know today happened, and in order to honour those who made application to that program, we are proceeding with that program and the assessments will take place remotely and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can about the outcome of those programs.

I was just told that the [Operating Grant] OG deadline is March 30 not the 31 which is Monday, it’s Monday.

All other grant programs that we have listed on our website, we are currently thinking of them, we are trying to be mindful of how best we can respond in the current environment we’re in as we move forward, if any changes happen we’ll be sure to communicate all of that as best we can to you so please again, continue to check the website, check in regularly with any of our team and we’ll definitely tell you what we know at that time.

And so that’s a good segue into what we’ve learned. Probably goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, this is not business as usual. As a matter of fact, it’s business as UNusual. Everything is so fluid right now, we know that things are changing for all of us, hour by hour, day by day, the decisions we are having to make are really hard, and it feels like tomorrow’s decisions are even harder. And so I want you to know that we are hearing you, we know, and we want to be able to work with our sector as best we can.

For our part, we’re constantly monitoring, we’re learning tons, we’re trying to be a part of as many joint conversations as we can, including a regular check in with the tri level orders of government as far as arts funders are concerned, we check in regularly. We’re checking in with other arts funders specifically for Calgary, we’re a part of a collective group with Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) trying to ensure that we have the most current info that we can share, we are part of the business sector support task force.

You know as organizations we’re all employers, we all have income and balance sheets, we’re all part of this sector that needs some encouragement right now. And the list goes on and on, so wherever we can have voices for the arts and artists at the table, we’re trying very hard to do that. And don’t be surprised if I call upon some of you to help us be present in some of those conversations.

Other things that we know other colleagues and stakeholders are undertaking in the community, I’m sure you heard yesterday the Calgary Foundation announced the Pandemic Recovery Fund it is a fund intended to respond to the charitable sector, encountering immediate need as a result of COVID-19, we also have the United Way who has announced a Community Response Fund. We’re checking in to see if there are ways that artists and arts organizations might be able to access those funds so stay tuned.

We’ve had questions about what resources are available via the other orders of government, how can people find out about these. We are doing our best to keep up to stay in touch and I’m sure all of you today heard about the new developments at the federal level with the emergency response benefit.

We’re doing our best to ensure that the conditions for arts workers are included in that consideration so please, again, look to our site, look to the other orders of government and their sites, we’re doing our best to give you as much info as we can.

The last thing I just wanted to mention is that our survey, we sent out a survey to organizations last week, many of you filled it in instantly within 48 hours thank you very much, it gave us some really great information that could help us make some decisions and for those of you who might still want to fill out the link, and again keep in mind this is for organizations, the survey is still open, so if you want to share your info with us or you didn’t get a chance to fill it out, I really encourage you to do that.

We use that data to make our case to others to really try and be as accurate as we can so we want to encourage any of you to please submit that, you can find the survey link on our website. If you scroll down in the announcements page you’ll see a letter that I sent out to everybody last week and the link is inside that letter. If you have trouble finding it then just reach out to us and we’ll help you on that.

All of that learning, all of those conversations that we’re a part of lead us to start to kind of muse and think and make some considerations. And the first thing, first and foremost, our decision-making and the choices we make are really rooted in people-first.

The arts sector is the arts sector because of the people in it, the stories you create. The way you help us express how we’re all feeling, the way you can connect us all. It’s because of the people involved, and so it’s really important to me and to our community I think that we continue to take care of each other. In the very broadest sense.

As I said earlier, I know we are all making hard decisions and we are all facing a lot of uncertainty and I hope that we can maybe make it easier on all of us by being in this together so thank you, to those of you who are doing just that.

In terms of how we’re undertaking our work, you’re probably hearing this a lot: short-term, medium-term, long-term–and by short-term it’s that instant immediate relief, urgency, the needs, the contingencies in this time where there are way more questions than there are answers.

That’s what we’re trying to think of in the short term. As we get into the medium and longer term considerations and we are thoughtful about that, we are thinking about recovery, we’re thinking about resilience. The number one priority for Calgary Arts Development is to foster and encourage a sustainable and resilient arts sector. That’s our reason for being. So it doesn’t change because we find ourselves in these times, if anything it heightens it.

So I wanted you to know that’s how we’re thinking about our work right now, and then of course as our mayor has said on the various public channels he’s been on, clean hands, clear heads, open hearts. And I think if ever there was a group of people who can really take those three phrases and create meaning from who we are as Calgarians, it’s all of you, and so I invite you to help our city really understand what it is to embrace those. The more we embrace that, the sooner we will come out of this on the other end. And I know that artists can lead us through.

And so to the actions that we’re taking, taking everything we’ve learned, trying to put it into some context around our thinking, the two priorities, one being fostering and encouraging a sustainable and resilient arts sector, and the second one, being arts-led city building, we wanted to talk a bit about our top two kind of action areas right now.

Our number one issue is how can we offer support in the short term, this immediate, urgent stage. And as mentioned, the survey results from the arts organizations that we’ve received so far have given us a much clearer picture of the immediate needs of the sector.

Again, thank you so much for submitting your data, it’s super helpful and we’re using that data to help us understand where that need is right across the spectrum, and as a result, last Friday our board approved $1.1 million dollars in short-term arts relief to support immediate needs demonstrated through the survey.

These dollars have been redirected from some of our existing grant envelopes that have not yet been committed in order to respond to these immediate needs. We know COVID-19 has impacted everybody—individuals and organizations alike. And we see that there is a spectrum of urgency and need and we’ll be using this $1.1 million dollars to address those most urgent needs that are being shared with us.

Now this is just an announcement of the total amount that we have to work with, the specific details of how the fund will work will be coming later this week, so again, even more important, check into the website, but we want you to know that the funds have been approved and we are going to move ahead as quickly as we can.

Now the short-term funding that I’ve just announced will be used to bridge until we’re able to solidify a clear picture of what that medium and long-term, that recovery and resiliency might look like and also might have a better sense of time in all of this.

Now, in case I didn’t make it clear, the $1.1 million dollars will be available to organizations and individuals. So for those of you who are individual arts workers, document your losses. I cannot stress that enough. If not for us, I suspect that any other program you might have access to will likely require it in some way. It’s the cancelled plane tickets for gigs that got cancelled, it’s the contracts that you didn’t get fulfilled, any of those kinds of notices, exhibitions that got cancelled, make sure you have that documented in some way.

And, in the meantime there are agencies like the Actors’ Fund of Canada, like Unison, like Elephant Artist Relief. I’m sure many of you already know about those agencies, but if you don’t, make sure you check those out online, and again we have those links on our resource page.

I think that’s all I wanted to say about that I know that, again, the sand is shifting, it’s constantly shifting sand, so be sure to keep in touch with us as your needs shift and change, that will be the way we can try and offer the most impactful assistance we can obviously in terms of dollars but also some non-monetary ways, we want to be sure that we can access that assistance for you.

The second area of action is probably less kind of active, but is around no one is able to predict the length of this pandemic—and so we’re asking ourselves these questions about how might we prepare ourselves to assist in the medium term recovery and resiliency phase, how might our programs pivot to best support the sector—again, we were created to support you, to work with you, and so if what we’re doing isn’t helpful to you then that’s not good for anybody.

And so I want to be sure that we’re always creating this constant kind of to-ing and fro-ing, this back and forth of sharing so that we can make good decisions that are good for all of us.

Alright, so, that’s pretty much everything I wanted to share with you now, Helen has been here with me keeping track of all the kinds of questions that you’re asking, also in the lead-up to this town hall we had a few questions that were asked of us prior, so I think maybe what I’ll do just so that I can give Helen a couple of minutes here to catch up with me, is answer some of the questions that we received previously and then we can move on to focus on the questions that are coming up as we’ve been going here since 3:00pm.

1. The first question that I have here is: In this fluid time of many changes, in response to the virus will grant outcomes be flexible? 

My answer is absolutely, please keep in touch with our community investment team as those changes arise for you, just so you can let us know. That will be really helpful and I know you’re all responding to all kinds of things and being on hold for hours on end and all that kind of stuff, so put us in the queue wherever it makes sense for you, okay?

2. Many artists are being financially challenged by the COVID-19 response in their practice, art workshop, cancellations, and also in an additional service field day job. Will Calgary Arts Development address this challenge in grants being offered?

Absolutely. Again the $1.1 million that we have announced will be available to individual arts workers as well, we’re working through and just finalizing the details on that as I speak so you will hear from very soon on how we will accept application or correspondence or submission of losses in that regard.

3. Michelle’s got a question: I was interested in knowing whether Calgary Arts Development can take this on and feel that our sector will be considered in any medium to long-term economic recovery efforts for our city and province. 

We are always advocating and championing for Calgary’s arts sector and wanting to have arts voices at the table, so absolutely Calgary Arts Development will be involved. As I mentioned earlier, we’re sitting on the business sector support task force at the city level, and we will continue to advocate on other orders.

And maybe what I’ll do is take a moment when I shared with Mayor Nenshi that I would be undertaking this town hall, he’s not able to join us, I asked him if there was anything he wanted me to share with all of you, and the one thing he wanted me to share is that he has been speaking with Premier Kenney about the arts sector and the specific concerns and circumstances that the sector finds itself in, that people find themselves in and he will continue to have those conversations at the provincial and the federal level.

So we have a champion in our corner in that regard.

4. Will Calgary Arts Development consider supporting artists who have not received funding from us specifically? This is not a time for artistic excellence but for mutual aid. I am just worried artist relief plans from various organizations will only target those who have been awarded funding already and not those who need it the most.

We are going to do our best to work with as many people from the sector as we can, regardless of whether you have received grants from Calgary Arts Development previously or not. $1.1 million dollars is a big number, but when you think about the number of organizations and arts workers we have in this community, it’s going to be stretched, and we are already working on ways that we can try to leverage more dollars from the community and the orders of government.

So it’s not going to be a condition that you have received a grant from us previously, but be in touch with us for sure.

5. Another question here: Have there been any discussions on municipal and provincial announcements forbidding gatherings of 50 or 250+ people for events or festivals into the summer even if self isolation restrictions are lifted. Many festival contracts can be voided without penalty if the decision to cancel isn’t the organization’s. The longer these organizations wait for a top down announcement the more costs will incur while operating as normal. From our friends at Sled Island.

What you just said is exactly what we are hearing from throughout the sector. Many of you either have conditions in various contracts you have or have some kind of event cancellation or business interruption are all asking this question. Because it’s predicated, if it’s mandated that’s one thing, if it’s voluntary that’s something else.

And so we definitely have been having conversations to encourage our elected officials to be very thoughtful about that. We need everybody in on this. So we are advocating to mandate as much as we can, of course as I know you all know there are many many complexities to what mandating something like that would be. Stay tuned, we’ll certainly let you know as things change but I will say leaders have heard you and are trying to respond to those needs that have been identified.

6. For events that are postponing is there a timeline that organizations are being cautioned to adhere to?

No, there are not any timelines, that’s one of the many questions that doesn’t have an answer—I think what people are looking to are jurisdictions that are experiencing COVID-19 ahead of us and seeing what’s happening there, so they’re looking at immediate past practice, but for the time being there is no official timelines. And again, that is a question that everybody is asking and I think folks are doing their best to answer that question and give us some more specific timing.

7. Would the funds already assigned to specific fundings programs be affected or re-evaluated? 

If you’ve already received a grant commitment or grant investment from Calgary Arts Development those are not impacted. But as I said with regard to the programs that we have posted on our website currently, they’re all under review.

We want to be able to use the funds that we have available to address the needs that are most impactful, so I don’t want to promise that the programs will still be in place. However if we change anything, from what we’ve already got announced and posted we will certainly let you know and will be posting those updates on our website and through other forms of communication.

And I’ve got one last question here and maybe then we can go to those that you’ve been asking since three o’clock.

8. What efforts are being made as a sector to have a succinct, clear message for the government and the public to highlight the challenges of the arts sector, especially in light that the energy sector, airlines and economic sectors are being loud and making sure that they are heard when it comes to time for increased investment after this phase of the epidemic has passed? 

That is a really great question and especially now in light of today’s announcements at the federal level. I think that as a sector we should do something, and I don’t know what that is, and I think I would welcome any thoughts or comments.

For any of you who might be on the Alberta Arts Matters coalition Facebook page, they’ve got some good comments about how artists can be in touch with various leaders at various levels of government to show the impact of the arts not only during a pandemic but all the time, how the arts and artists contribute meaningfully. So, that’s for sure something that I would encourage us all to think about and find ways to all be together in that voice

More questions!

9. Question here: Is it possible to get the OG payment by EFT? 

We are working very hard to transition everything over to some form of electronic fund transfer—and we’re not quite there yet. I would say that with regards to the OG program I don’t know that we’ll get there yet, but our team is working very hard.

For the time being, I think as soon as you get your interim report to us, will get the cheque out to you as fast as possible and if we can change and do it with EFT instead then we will do that as well. But this first OG payment I’m sorry I think it’s probably going to be a cheque.

10. Could we chat more about this relief fund? I’d love to hear more. 

I would love to tell you more! And as I am saying this, I know that members of the Calgary Arts Development team are also watching the town hall, so they’re texting in as well, and so for any member of the team if there are particular things that you want me to share then please do.

What I don’t want to do is tell you stuff that’s not true, and I know that fluid times we are constantly making different decisions based on what we hear.

What I wanted to be sure you knew, $1.1 million, this is intended for short-term and by short-term we mean the next six to eight weeks, so we know that many of you are facing lots of very serious decisions and already have made some really hard choices, and so we want these dollars to be able to help in facilitating that decision making that you are undertaking.

Again as we have more specifics about how we are going to facilitate that fund, we’ll definitely let you know, and then again for those of you who are individuals working in the sector the most important piece of advice I can give is keep track of the losses or the expenses you have incurred as a result of COVID-19. That’s kind of as specific as I can get.

That message came from Kate, if there’s a more specific thing you want to hear Kate, please let me know. Right now we don’t have anything about minimum or maximum grants, I don’t have anything to share with you about how big or how small, those are all in process and we’re really close to finishing them, but we weren’t close enough for me to be able to announce that today, but I wanted you to know that we have something in motion and that we’re endeavouring to get those dollars out as quickly as we can.

11. Next question I have: How do you determine urgency when everyone is in urgent need? 

This is again, based on the survey results that you have all or many of you have all responded to, and again, if you haven’t, go to the survey link, fill it out, and if there’s anything on the survey that you don’t understand, please be sure to circle back to us and we will answer your questions.

Urgency is relative and Shelley you know as well as I do that there are organizations, that we’re seeing throughout the sector, I’m not talking about the art sector specifically but throughout the city who are facing closures, who are facing layoffs, who are facing just the reality of whether or not they can continue to be a going concern once we get past all of this.

There’s is no reason why we shouldn’t be asking ourselves the same things here in the sector and I know that all of you are and what I can say to you is urgency is based on the things you are telling us, where you’re at in terms of your cash flows, whether or not you have reserves, your own organizational capacities, all of those kinds of things that we want to work with you on. And as we determine that urgency that’s how we’ll get there and also the degree of impact that COVID-19 has had on your circumstances, whether they be organizational or individual.

Impact on existing grants—I hope we’ve covered that.

Existing grants—you’re good. I think that in respect to existing grants, if there is a change materially that you’ve had to make than what you told us in the original application, just let us know so that we can keep track of it and just continue to manifest or monitor our conversations accordingly going forward.

12. Another question I have here: Sounds like $1.1 million is coming from a reallocation of existing programs. Can you talk specifically where those funds are coming from? 

So one of the scenarios that we looked at, and hindsight being what it is, it was a best case scenario that we thought we would find ourselves in this condition for a few weeks and I know we were talking timeline earlier, I don’t know that it’s going to be a few weeks I think it’s going to be longer. And so we wanted to be able to respond in the immediacy of where we find ourselves but not completely dismiss or eliminate any of the existing programs that we had published on the website.

Basically it’s that kind of managing our existing programs based on how much time left we’ll have in the year to have all of you actually fulfill all of the things that might relate to a project grant, or some other kind of program that we’ve announced. So there’s a balancing act to be had and that’s the part that where we still have more to learn and apply.

In terms of the specific allocations and programs, nothing has been eliminated outright, so what we’ve tried to do is tried to shave off a portion of the project grants as an example, so we still have a pool there in the event that we can move ahead with that program. I don’t have the specific numbers here, I’ll ask my CI team if that’s something we can have sent to me while I’m here online and if not we’ll try to respond our website later on.

Helen’s bringing me more questions…

Oh, I have a correction here from Lesley—for OG grant payments that haven’t gone out yet, they will be by direct deposit. So it was Kathi who sent that message. If we don’t have your direct deposit info, make sure that you get it to us or Lesley or Van will ask that of you. So there you go—direct deposit it is.

I think this is Bobbi at the Alberta Dance alliance—no it’s not, it’s from someone who is saying the Alberta Dance Alliance is asking the Minister of Culture about cancellations for arts presentation and will post updates on their site. So that’s the website for the Alberta Dance Alliance, so that’s another resource that you can check in on.

13. Is OG+ on hold? 

If we’re talking about the OG+ from 2019, no, it’s not a hold. You already have the grant so do with it what you will. With respect to 2020, currently it’s on pause but we haven’t eliminated the money.

As I said in my response earlier we did shave off dollars from each of the remaining envelopes and that would have been one of them that we would have shaved off from, but we wanted to keep something there in the event that we can continue on. For the time being there is a grant envelope there, it’s less than what we initially anticipated, but it’s still there for the time being.

14. Is the $1.1 million in addition to the existing funding for operating grants? 

Okay, so all of you who currently have received an operating grant investment from Calgary Arts Development, you need to submit an interim report by March 30 in order to receive your base grant for this year. So that’s good. That whole amount is there, and we did not take any money from that pool to contribute to the $1.1 million. This 1.1 million is only from other envelopes where we had not yet made a grant commitment.

So your operating grant amount from last year will carry over to this year, just make sure you get your interim report into us.

Are there more questions Helen? They’re fast and furious and she can’t write that fast. I also think there might be a few more here that I have from the day before.

15. What about gig arts workers, this is from Johanne Deleeuw—especially if they’re not able to document it? Like a tech worker who relies on short term gigs which have all gone away?

So when I talk about arts workers, I am talking about those who work in the sector who may not necessarily be artists in the way that they appear on the stage, but if it weren’t for those other workers there would be no stage for you to perform or work or do your other things. I would say as best you can even documenting I was supposed to work this gig and then I was lined up to do this one and then I was going to do this one and this is what my income was gonna be for the year and now it’s all gone.

If you could even just write that down so that you have it for reference I think that will be really helpful to everybody. One thing to know about the Actors’ Fund of Canada, I don’t know if it’s the same case for Unison, the Actors’ Fund is available to anybody who is working in the arts and entertainment industry.

So that is performers, those are other artists, those are technicians, those are other craftspeople, so please be sure to check the Actors’ Fund of Canada and in particular I want to acknowledge the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, it’s a union in Canada and throughout North America made a gift of 1 million dollars to the Actors’ Fund of Canada, so there are pools of dollars there that are available and be sure to check in to the Actors’ Fund website.

Unison is an organization directed to the music industry, I don’t know what their conditions are for artists that might work in other disciplines.

16. More questions. Lisa—will an individual’s ability to receive government funding like through the new EI program have an impact on the criteria to receive our relief funds? 

No, is the answer. From Calgary Arts Development’s perspective it won’t impact your ability to apply to us, because I get to decide that. However, it may not work for you going the other way. So that, if you received assistance from the relief fund, I don’t know that it makes you eligible for the emergency support funds. And I honestly don’t know.

That’s a question that I have asked our colleagues working at the federal order, to be sure that the ministers hear that, because we’re going to need some real clarity. I know that there are writers for example who are working for a very small honorarium to contribute to a variety of journals. So you know, for that small honorarium is that going to cut you out from accessing any of those funds?

From Calgary Arts Development’s perspective, we’re looking specifically at the impact of COVID-19 on individuals who lost work, had to cancel but incurred the cost, like all those kinds of things, so that’s what we’re going to be looking at, and we won’t take into account your eligibility through those other programs. I just, we gotta be thoughtful about what the impact is going the other way.

Am I still moving around too much? I got a comment that I’m moving around too much so I just wanna be sure that I’m not making people motion sick or anything like that.

And just a note from our team members in community investment. Don’t bank on the current grant programs that we have listed on our website right now. Again, all things being equal, they’re there, but everything is being considered.

If this runs out longer, then you know we‘re going to make some other decisions because we want to get that money out into your hands in a way that is responding to the current time we find ourselves in. So it’s hard to say what’s going to happen a week from now never mind a month, two months and further on.

17. I’m gonna read the next one. Scott asks: Should organizations continue to plan to write applications for OG increase stream? If so, how much should or should not COVID-19 appear in that application, with respect to things like three-year plans, capacity etc.? 

Thanks for the question. So Scott asked a question about whether or not applications for the OG Increase stream, so that’s one of the programs we have on our site, how much should COVID-19 be referenced or be included in those plans especially when you talk about three-year planning, and other kinds of going concerns or going-forward considerations.

I think COVID-19 is a real thing and I believe that this is more around the recovery and resiliency phases are going to be much longer than I think this year. I think that if you didn’t reference COVID-19 with regard to what the next three years might look for you, you’re probably missing a pretty obvious factor.

It’s going to take a while for us to figure out what our new reality is, what the new context will be for us, so I’d encourage you to reference it and be as specific and you can about the effects of this current time on your enterprise on your operations.

18. Can we seek funding for cancellation of travel costs etc. for events that have been cancelled? 

Yes. Travel costs are a pretty obvious impact, I know that any airline are offering credits for a year from now, but if you have the gig to actually go wherever a year from now, then I don’t know how that helps. So those would be things that we would include, and as I’m shaking my head like this I can assure you my team will tell me if I should be going like this. But right now that would constitute a clear impact, to me, of COVID-19.

Just further to Scott’s question around the OG Increase stream, again, if we’re talking about COVID-19 and the impact, then it’s also the impact that’s being felt throughout the sector, so don’t count on the increase coming to you in I guess a kind of conventional way.

I would caution anybody for 2020 at least putting in an operating grant increase in your budgeting because again as this thing rolls out longer, we’re going to be I think directing our dollars in a fundamentally different way and I don’t know what that is, but that’s why we wanted to do things like this town hall so we could start to hear from you and also find other ways that we might connect as we see what the effect of these changes are going to be.

19. Next question? The OG increase form was going to go online April 13 with a deadline for May 19. Has the deadline changed? 

Yes the deadline will have changed, what we don’t know is what it will have changed too and that’s a good reminder to us. I’m saying this out loud to my team because I know you’re all listening in, we probably should just put a note to say that notionally right now all of these deadlines are in flux.

I think there’s a lot more information that we need to learn before we can feel comfortable that anybody’s going to be able to reasonably talk about the year ahead or the years ahead until we know a bit more about how this is impacting individuals.

20. Is it okay to still apply for operating grants? 

So if you do not currently receive an operating grant investment from Calgary Arts Development we have closed the program to any new organizations, so if you don’t have a grant from us already, you know as I was referencing the interim reporting stuff, no, you cannot apply for an operating grant, however the arts relief fund, other programs that we will come up with, or some of our existing programs like the grants that we are able to go ahead with, you would be able to apply for.

No to operating grants, but yes to some of the other programs that we have currently and this artist relief fund we’re certainly open to hearing from you.

21. Kirsten wants to confirm that all of the 2019 operating grant recipients are included in the operating plus program that’s already started this year. So, I think it’s a reiteration of the operating increase.

So, all things being equal, recognize that nothing is equal right now. Everything has been turned upside down. Yes, if you are a current operating grant client, if you are able to proceed as we had anticipated, and have the OG increase piece, you would be eligible to apply for that.

What I’m telling you right now is hold off on doing a lot of work on that because I suspect that if nothing else we’re going to be asking really different questions of you. So have it in the back of your mind, be thinking about it, and as we know more and as we are able to confirm the roll-out of these programs we will.

Our website is going to be updated shortly and will continue to update as we go. Sorry, I was reading the paper sideways.

It’s always changing and it’s always moving and I know that’s one of the frustrations and the paradox of course in all of this was the purpose of this town hall was trying to ease your minds and not cause more, however I’m sure you can understand there’s a really immediate urgent need right now and it isn’t about application deadlines and ensuring everybody has a chance to respond and reply, it is about need, and so again, we want to hear from you.

Please make sure you’re as clear as you can be about the impact that you are facing with regard to COVID-19 and all the implications that are associated with that. That would be really helpful to us. A friend of ours, JD Derbyshire always reminds us that clarity is kindness. The more clear you can be the kinder you are and we’ll do our best to do the same.

Any other questions? Ya, I think there’s still a little bit of confusion about the OG increase and whether that might be cancelled or fundamentally altered or how. There’s just a little bit of confusion around that still so if we can try to be a little more clear or offer when that clarity might be available to people on our website I think that just might help to clear it up a little bit.

When we advocated and made the case for increased funds for the arts sector with our shareholder—city council—being able to catch up with our operating grants was one of the key components. So we’re not dismissive that there is some catch-up to be had.

I think what might be different right now, is notwithstanding the need for the catch-up, the way in which you might utilize those operational dollars is probably going to be really different over the next year for sure and probably the next few years. So, with that in mind, the OG increase program that is advertised as the template will come out in April and the deadline for application will be some time in May right now to me is unlikely. Mostly because I don’t really know how many of you could easily answer the question about how the rest of 2020 looks like.

I don’t know how to answer the question about what the rest of 2020 looks like. And to have a bunch of applications that say well it could be this or it could be this, or it could be that, and there are 25 things that I need to know before I can really decide, isn’t going to help us make that decision so my advice is that the program will not go forward as per the timelines that we have articulated, and as I said about this short-term funding, the $1.1 million it’s intended to address the next  six to eight weeks, so that’s taking us into the April, end of May slot, end of April early into May time.

So we’re talking about the OG increase program happening later on in the year, but certainly not in time for a May deadline. And I promise you we will do our best to try and address, try and put certainty around these questions that you’re all having around timing. Everything is just so fluid right now and we’ve got to make sure that there’s a healthy robust group of companies who can even apply to an OG anything program, and that’s what we’re asking ourselves right now, is really trying to get a sense of that. I hope that clears things up.

Anything else Helen? There are no other questions! You are an amazing group of people. It is five minutes to 4:00pm and we thought we would take about an hour, give or take. So, on that what I will do is I just have some final thoughts and in doing so there may be some other kind of last bit of questions that you have here, but that would require me finding where I wrote my final thoughts down, bear with me, right here.

Just some last things to share with you, first and foremost again thank you very much for taking the time. We will save this video, so if you want to come back and reference it, if you want to encourage others to watch it, please do. We’ll provide updates on a continual basis as much as we can.

I hope you know we want to be here for you. We want to help.

My days are constantly filled with it’s never enough, I know it’s never enough, and we’re trying real hard to do what we can with what we have, and what keeps me going every day is all of you, and seeing the good work when you can do it and when you can share it, seeing the terrific ideas and thoughts and the empathy and compassion that I see on the various social media networks and I see all over the place.

Thank you for that. I know that the community is really leaning on you.

I heard in an interview with Jann Arden when she was talking about finding ourselves in hard times we should lean on the arts, and she is 110% right. I couldn’t agree with her more.

We will need to lean on the arts and I am hoping that you have the support that you need and that I can do my best to encourage others to come along with us in that. Clean hands, clear head, open heart, people first, let’s be sure that we take care of each other and most importantly to the OG clients get your interim reports in so we can get those dollars out to you right away.

Thank you all so very much for your time, for bearing with us through our technical glitch yesterday and I look forward to connecting with you all again.

Take care. Bye. Thanks everybody. Thanks to the Calgary Arts Development team for all the support.

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