Canada’s Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations
The COVID-19 pandemic has largely halted the production of films, television shows and other screen-based media across Canada, with devastating impact on an industry that not only generates significant revenue for Canadians but also supports a multitude of jobs in desirable knowledge-based and technical service categories. As noted by the Canada Media Fund, Canada’s screen-based industry generates $12.8 billion dollars to Canada’s GDP and 181,000 well-paid jobs, and has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.1
On April 17, 2020, the federal government established a $500 million dollar Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations, as part of Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic emergency response strategy2; leaving the drill down allocation of that fund among cultural, heritage and sports organizations to follow in subsequent government communiques.
Allocation of Emergency Funds Specific to Screen-Based Industries
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced on May 8, 2020, that $115.8 million dollars of this emergency funding will be specifically directed to support Canada’s screen-based industries. $88.8 million dollars of this funding allocation will be channelled through the Canada Media Fund (CMF). The CMF delivers hundreds of millions of dollars annually to support and promote Canadian content. The remaining $27 million dollars will be funneled through Telefilm Canada. Telefilm Canada finances, develops and promotes the Canadian audiovisual industry and Canada’s international treaty obligations in the screen-based industry sector.
Both CMF and Telefilm have been actively involved in providing services and support to members of Canada’s screen-based industries during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these organizations will administer the emergency fund allocations as part of their ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on this sector.
While it is not yet clear how the screen-based emergency fund will be allocated and disbursed by the CMF and Telefilm Canada, it is anticipated that further details will be provided in the near term once these particulars have been formalized.
In addition to the allocation of $115.8 million dollars to screen-based industries, the May 8, 2020 ministerial announcement allocated the remaining portion of the Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations, including $72 million dollars to the sport sector, $53 million dollars to the heritage sector, $55 million dollars to the Canada Council for the Arts, and $3.5 million dollars to support COVID-19 related projects under the Digital Citizen Initiative. The remaining $198.3 million dollars to be distributed to beneficiaries of arts and culture funding through existing programs and to other organizations with a demonstrated need.
1 Canada Media Fund Press Release, April 17, 2020 https://www.cmf-fmc.ca/en-ca/news-events/news/april-2020/canada-media-fund-welcomes-government-of-canada-co.
2 Prime Minister’s Trudeau’s Press Release, April 17, 2020 https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/04/17/prime-minister-announces-new-support-protect-canadian-jobs.