Province announces assistance for arts and cultural groups


As one of her first acts as the new Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, local MP Suzanne Lohnes-Croft has announced a provincial fund of $2.1 million to help the immediate needs of Nova Scotia's arts and culture organizations.

"Arts and culture organizations and the artists and creators within them help to tell the story of who we are as Nova Scotians," Lohnes-Croft, who is the MP for Lunenburg, stated in a news release issued November 5. "The sector is an important economic and social contributor to communities across the province. This immediate support will help organizations adapt and maintain operations."

Last month, Susan Leblanc the NDP Communities, Culture and Heritage spokesperson and MLA for Dartmouth North, challenged the province's Liberal government to act sooner rather than later in assisting the arts community.

In an opinion piece sent in to LighthouseNOW October 30, entitled Liberals must not forget the arts in our COVID-19 recovery, Leblanc noted that during the height of the pandemic many Nova Scotians were working from home or having limited contact with other people.

"We looked to movies, music, virtual dance parties, crafts and books to maintain some semblance of our pre-COVID-19 lives.

"But even as we have increased our consumption of arts and culture, the artists - the people who create the works that we've relied on to get us through - have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Leblanc.

She pointed to gathering limits, people having less disposable income, and "the already systemic under funding of art and culture," as having left artists, musicians, performers, film, television and theatre technicians, and others in the culture sector particularly vulnerable.

"Live performances and events - including concerts, theatre productions, festivals, sporting events, and craft markets - were some of the first things to have to shut down and will be among the last to come back."

Leblanc suggested that CCH has been in the process of conducting a review of operating grants for years.

"In April, then CCH Minister Leo Glavine declared that his department was finalizing 'millions' in support to the cultural sector. Yet since then no announcements have been made, aside from a Cabinet shuffle that put a new Minister, Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, in charge of the file.

"It has been weeks since the new Minister was installed and still the government has not announced any specific COVID-19 relief or stimulus funding for the arts and culture sector," argued Leblanc.

The news release announcing the COVID-19 Emergency Support Program for Arts and Culture Organizations describes it as a "one-time, application-based program to help organizations who either receive Communities, Culture, and Heritage operating funding or who regularly receive project funding from the department." It says criteria for funding will be based on need, "and year-over-year financials and projections."

Financial assistance will be considered for plans that keep operations going, adapt spaces, and/or generate activity under the current public health guidelines. Organizations can apply online at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/emergency-support-for-arts-and-culture-organizations/

The application deadline is Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, on November 4, the province announced it was continuing with the Nova Scotia Film and Television Production Incentive Fund for another five years, until 2025-26.

"The fund is doing what it was designed to do - encouraging productions and supporting and expanding our local creative industry," Nova Scotia's minister of business, Geoff MacLellan, was quoted saying in a news release issued on that day. "Nova Scotia is home to some of the country's best film producers, screenwriters and technicians and we want to keep them here. We recognize the important positive contribution of the creative economy to our province and we're pleased to provide the industry some certainty by continuing this fund for the next five years," MacLellan said.

Nova Scotia invested $77.5 million in 162 film and television projects through the incentive fund, which was established in 2015, That investment resulted in $292 million in production spending and supporting economic contributors such as salaries, taxes and the sale of local goods and services, according to the government.

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