Backgrounder: Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations


GATINEAU (Quebec) – May 8, 2020

On April 17, 2020, the Prime Minister announced funding of $500 million to establish a new COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations. The Fund is an additional temporary measure created to provide financial support to organizations in these sectors, which complements the Government’s existing COVID-19 support measures for wages and fixed costs.

The objectives of the funding are:

  • to maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose cash flow and short-term operational viability have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; and,
  • to stabilize a sector that is a major driver of the Canadian economy.

The Fund will be administered by Canadian Heritage and divided among select departmental programs and Portfolio agencies as well as key delivery organizations. Specifically:

  • Up to $326.8 million to be distributed by Canadian Heritage, of which:  
    • $198.3 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding via  existing programs as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs;
    • $72 million will be provided to the sport sector;
    • $53 million will be provided to the heritage sector via the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program; and,
    • $3.5 million will be provided for COVID-related projects under the Digital Citizen Initiative.
  • $55 million to be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts to help arts organizations that support artists;
  • $115.8 million to support the Canadian audiovisual sector, to be distributed by the Canada Media Fund ($88.8 million) and Telefilm Canada ($27 million).

The use of the remaining funds will be assessed based on needs.

A streamlined process will minimize the application burden. At a minimum, eligible organizations will be required to attest the following in order to receive support:

  • they are in need of funding to ensure a continuity of operations and to safeguard jobs;
  • they remain in operation at the time of application and plan to continue contributing to their sector in the future;
  • they are not receiving funding from multiple sources to cover the same costs (e.g., Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Business Account, and Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for Small Businesses); and,
  • where relevant, funds will be used to support workers such as the self-employed and freelance workers, artists, and creators.

In order to accelerate the distribution of funds, a two-phased approach will be followed:

Phase I

For funding recipients who are projecting a significant financial impact as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • A formula-based top-up to recipients of the following arts and culture programs: Canada Periodical Fund, Canada Book Fund, Canada Music Fund (via FACTOR and Musicaction), Canada Arts Training Fund, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, Harbourfront Centre Funding Program, and Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program.
  • Funds to certain Sport Support Program and Athlete Assistance Program eligible recipients as well as formula-based top-ups to the bilateral sport agreements with provinces and territories will ensure funding is disbursed rapidly. Emergency funding will also be available to the Aboriginal Sport Circle and the provincial and territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies. Existing agreements will allow for efficient and accelerated delivery.
  • Funds will also be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada to support their recipients. Measures will be in place to avoid any potential duplication of funding between the Department and these organizations.
  • Phase I also includes support to the April 7, 2020, announcement of the Digital Citizen Initiative’s Digital Citizen Contribution Program to help combat false and misleading COVID-19 information as well as the racism and stigmatization that are often the result.

Phase 2

As part of the $500 million budget envelope, the second phase will provide temporary support as follows:

  • Funding for eligible organizations with heritage collections through the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program.
  • Funding for other organizations, which may include some that do not currently receive funding from Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada or the Canada Media Fund (e.g., non-recipient arts and culture organizations, small broadcasters, third-language producers, organizations in live music, local news organizations, magazines and community newspapers).

Further details on Phase 2 will be announced over the coming weeks.

More information will be posted on the Department’s website and interested culture, heritage and sport organizations will be able to contact Canadian Heritage.

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