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THE SCOOP | The Canada Council Responds To The COVID-19 Pandemic

By Anya Wassenberg on March 21, 2020

Orchestra (Photo: Ioana Sasu from Pixabay)
Orchestra (Photo: Ioana Sasu from Pixabay)

The Canada Council has announced a blackout period for travel funding grants, along with information and other measures to help artists adjust during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to a public announcement, Canada Council operations will continue with a reduced staff and capacity. All public events have been suspended until further notice, with daily updates available on their website.

The organization’s message points out other government assistance that is available, such as the $5,000 emergency funding available to repatriate any artists still out of the country, and the Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for anyone who is not eligible for EI. There is a website link available with details of all federal public health measures.

All grant recipients, whether individuals or organizations, are being asked to document the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations, in order to help the organization determine the extent of funding needed, and how any benefits will be administered.

“We are presently working with Canadian Heritage and our federal government on practical and immediate ways to help the arts sector face the challenges of COVID-19. Further information will be provided as soon as decisions have been made,” the statement reads.

There will be no changes to organizations that receive core funding from the Canada Council. All existing deadlines will be kept, but anyone applying for a future grant should check the website for updates.

Funding for travel related expenses has been suspended for the period March 16, 2020 to May 15, 2020. Anyone with projects that were to have taken place during the blackout period are being encouraged to withdraw their applications so it does not affect future grants. If the project can continue without travel, grant recipients will be asked to revise their budgets and expenses accordingly.

There are other changes to the travel grant programme. While travel insurance is normally considered an ineligible expense, that stipulation is being lifted until further notice. The Canada Council is recommending, however, that any policies be studied carefully, since many no longer cover cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, and some flights may not allow changes without penalties.

For any projects that were about to take place and have been cancelled, the Council recognizes that some expenses may have already been paid, and may also be non-refundable. Grant recipients are expected to return the unused portion of any travel grants for activities within the blackout period, but can submit proof of expenses already paid. Reimbursement requirements depend on the size of the grant.

If a project has already been funded, and changes are necessary due to public health guidelines during the COVID-19 outbreak, such as cancelling a public event, recipients are expected to provide the details in a project update report or final report form.

You can email the Canada Council directly with questions at email: covid19@canadacouncil.ca. The goal is to reply within two days, but that may change depending on volume.


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