Montreal, May 8, 2020 – Festivals and Major Events Canada (FAME) is joined by event organizers across the country in welcoming the details announced today by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, regarding the $500M Arts, Culture, and Sport Emergency Support Fund. FAME considers this to be an important first step in the long road towards ensuring the survival of its members and the eventual relaunch of their activities.

In a separate announcement today, the Prime Minister indicated that the Canada Emergency Wage subsidy would be extended beyond June, which we hope will help many organizations in the events sector who are not eligible to this relief program.

Of the $500M, $198.3 million is being provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding via existing programs at Canadian Heritage as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs.

Of these existing programs, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF) and the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program (BCAH) will benefit many festivals and events who are already existing recipients. However, these two chronically oversubscribed programs have long lacked the resources to satisfy the demand, which exceeded program resources by at least 40% in 2017-2018. This has left many festivals across Canada excluded from becoming funding recipients.

For this reason, it is also noteworthy to see that “Phase 2” of this measure will provide funding to organizations that do not currently receive funding from Canadian Heritage. This will be welcome news to the many festivals across Canada who, in the past, have not been able to access Canadian Heritage programming. FAME await further details on Phase 2.

Over the past few months – most notably yesterday, before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance – FAME has highlighted four essential measures needed for the events sector’s road to recovery.

The first two measures have to do with survival. Ensuring the continued flow of regular grants from Canadian Heritage programming and eligibility for relief measures like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy were the first priorities. Second, we must also eventually find solutions for the anticipated deficits that all festivals will incur due to cancellation. It remains to be seen to what level today’s announced measures will address these issues.

The second two measures have to do with recovery. Before a relaunch can happen, a transition period needs to occur while we wait for a vaccine, and organizers must reinvent events to be “COVID-Proof”. When the time comes for an economic, social, and touristic relaunch, a structuring federal program will be needed to stimulate a large concentration of activity in the events space. To that end, our coalition believes that a “version 2.0” of the Marquee Tourism Events Program which was introduced as a response to the 2008 economic crisis, is required.