NO PANDEMIC SUPPORT FOR LIVE EVENT INDUSTRY
EDMONTON — After more than a year of the live event industry begging the UCP government for pandemic support, the Government has announced a project-based grant that will leave venues on the hook for operational costs with no revenue coming in.
The Stabilize Live Music Grant, which will include $2 million in grants to for-profit venues, and micro-grants for individuals, is project-based. This means that venues and artists must use the money for a future event and cannot apply this grant to operational costs or retroactive projects during the pandemic. The micro-grants will provide up to $1,500 to projects and for-profit music venues can apply for up to $25,000 for a project.
“Once again the UCP are steps behind what industry in the province needs,” said NDP Critic for Culture Nicole Goehring. “We’re fourteen months into the pandemic. Venues and live event spaces have already been pivoting their projects, platforms and services to respond to the pandemic.”
“The industry has been clear with the UCP that they are in need of pandemic support to make it through to the other side. I’m concerned that these venues, which provide a huge boost to our economy, could be in serious jeopardy.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 16 live event venues in Alberta have shut down permanently.
The Ministry of Culture business plan for 2021 states that $15 million in one-time funding will be provided to offset operational costs and support reopening once it is safe to do so. The money designated for venues with this grant is only 13 per cent of that total amount.
Earlier in 2021 the government launched part of the Stabilize program that could be used for venue operational costs for non-profits and sport teams, which for-profit live event venues could not apply for.
Timur Inceoglu, Senior Talent Buyer for MRG Live, books national and international tours through central and western Canada, utilizing many of Alberta’s venues regularly.
“Music associations, venues, promoters and those connected to the music and culture industry have been lobbying for support from all levels of government in an effort to stick around until the reopening,” said Inceoglu. “It’s been fourteen months since the beginning of the pandemic and the companies and people who’ve dedicated their lives to this sector in this province will need continual investments such as this in a far more regular pattern.”
The newly announced grant does not allow applicants to use the one-time funding to cover operational costs. It also does not allow venues to use the funding retroactively, for projects and events already completed during the pandemic.
In 2018, Alberta’s live experience sector contributed $662.7 million to GDP and supported 14,580 jobs in Alberta.
“It’s an important pillar for our economic recovery to support this industry because they cannot operate while we have the current public health orders in place. They have been closed for more than a year, with no opportunity to open operations,” said Goehring.
Along with the innovation grant, micro-grants have been included for individual project applications. These grants are also not allowed for operational costs or retroactive project compensation.
“The UCP has chosen the wrong vehicle to deliver this money. Venues have been clear and I worry that the government has squandered their opportunity to truly help out the live event industry while we deal with a massive third wave and no guarantees this industry can resume operations any time soon.”
Amplifying live music funding in Alberta
A $2-million grant program will help Alberta’s live music professionals through the pandemic and help venues find creative solutions to support musicians.
Alberta’s government is launching the Stabilize Live Music Grant program to help rebuild and reopen live experiences once public health guidelines allow. Grants of $1,500 will help musicians and other live music professionals prepare for a return to live performances. Grants up to $25,000 for for-profit music venues will support innovative projects to help Alberta’s music industry adapt and relaunch.
“The live music industry is critical to our quality of life and our economic recovery, and we need to maintain the sector’s viability in these uncertain times in order to see future growth. Once the province can reopen, there will be a pent-up demand for live music and we need to make sure the live music industry can meet that demand. This investment will allow Albertans to safely enjoy live performances and ensure our amazing artists return to the stage stronger than ever.”
Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women
Alberta’s government is partnering with Alberta Music, which will administer the grant. Eligible live music professionals and businesses can apply through the association’s website, starting May 17, until all funds are awarded.
“Alberta Music is pleased to partner with the Government of Alberta to administer this grant program. This grant is intended to alleviate some of the financial hardships faced by the music sector, which has essentially been unable to function for the last 12-plus months. Musicians, music venues, sound engineers, producers and labels have all had their careers and businesses particularly hard hit by the pandemic. And while the road to recovery will be a long one, we hope that this initiative will be a shot in the arm for the industry, putting people back to work and money back in to the music economy.”
Carly Klassen, executive director, Alberta Music
“This grant program is exactly what individual artists and live music professionals need in order to relaunch successfully. Music is what has helped many people through these trying times, and the ability to once again share the experience of live performance is truly critical for our collective well-being and future.”
Joal Kamps, Alberta’s Artist in Residence
The $2 million comes from $15 million allocated to the Stabilize Program in Budget 2021. This investment will support programming that will allow venues and performers to get back to business as the province reopens. This includes online event bookings and ticket sales platforms.
Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.
In a pre-pandemic survey for West Anthem, 39 per cent of people in Calgary and 45 per cent of people in Edmonton said they attend live music shows at least once a month.
In 2017, Alberta’s live music industry generated a direct economic output of $709 million and 5,440 jobs.
From 2010 to 2017, Alberta’s live music industry saw a 25 per cent growth.
Ninety-two per cent of Albertans indicate that the arts, culture, multiculturalism and sport are significant contributors to their quality of life.