Calgary Arts Development outlines relief programs for city arts groups

Supper salad is one of dozens of pieces from Calgary artists used along the new Calgary Transit MAX BRT lines. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Arts organizations suffering from the economic fallout of COVID-19 can now apply for a portion of relief money provided by the city.

In May, Calgary city council approved $2.15 million to Calgary Arts Development (CAD). The money was set aside to aid in recovery and resiliency needs for local arts groups.

Sara Bateman, Director of Community Investment and Impact at CAD, said the two phases of recovery and resiliency will help build the foundations of adaptability for the sector.

She said when they saw the steep loss in revenue due to the pandemic, they realized they had to look forward instead of fixing the past. It will help organizations who’ve suffered.

“It’s really about what you need to strengthen your organization because of losses from COVID. Everybody’s trying to figure out what they need to be able to adapt to what’s going,” Bateman said.

“It was actually really tricky to design funding for a crisis that continues.”

It’s an organization-focused grant program. Despite the difficulty, CAD wanted to make the funds open for all arts groups, including non-profits. This was also mandated by the city.

“The city did say that this works for arts organizations and we know that there is a great need for artists’ support,” Bateman said.

How the funds will be delivered

One million will go into the first phase, which is the recovery fund. The remaining $1.15 million is allocated to the resiliency fund, the second phase. Organizations can receive grants up to $50,000 dollars for each fund, respectively.

CAD said groups applying for the recovery fund should consider investing it in human resources, strategic planning, and administration of operations.

“The intent of this one is really to say, ‘how do you build up those foundational pieces of your organization so that you are ready, or stronger for what’s to come?’” Bateman said.

The resiliency fund is for future program that arts groups wish to undertake. It’s for creating an environment for arts to adapt and thrive in a COVID reality going forward.

“It might be a new project or it might be changing some of your business models, but really looking at adaptive approaches, as well as collaborative ones,” said Bateman.

She said part of the criteria CAD will look at is how organizations are thinking about innovation. This includes delivery, structure and how they engage their audience.

The deadline to apply for the recovery fund is Aug. 10. Applications for the resiliency fund will open the same day. Arts organizations can apply to both funds.

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