Quebec is injecting $50 million to help cover the losses in the struggling arts and culture industry amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and tightened restrictions in some regions.
The government announced Friday it will reimburse up to 75 per cent of lost ticket revenue for theatres and other other performing arts companies affected by the health crisis.
“We will not let our artists down,” said Premier François Legault.
The financial assistance comes as parts of the province are in a partial lockdown amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
However, venues across Quebec will be eligible to apply for funding to help cover their losses due to restrictions on the number of attendees.
Eda Holmes, the artistic and executive director of the Centaur Theatre is pleased financial assistance is being made available but she’s waiting to learn more details.
“I’m concerned about how the rules on that money are going to work and I’m hopeful and optimistic that when the details come down, we will be able to access it,” she told Global News.
The CEO of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) is applauding the assistance being offered.
The OSM has been forced to cancel 80 concerts since the beginning of the pandemic losing millions of dollars.
In a statement emailed to Global News, CEO Madeleine Careau writes, “We will, therefore, be able to continue to maintain employment for our musicians and administrative staff and to support the local music community, including many guest artists from Quebec.”
Theatres, museums and other parts of the cultural sector have been ordered to shut down in the Montreal, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches areas until at least Oct. 28. Those regions are designated red zones, where officials say the spread of the virus is high.
Operators of those centres cried foul earlier this week, saying they were forced to shutter while other indoor establishments, such as gyms, can remain open.
Legault said Friday he didn’t want to order closures and that the vibrant cultural scene is at the heart of Quebecers’ identities.
“It breaks my heart to be forced to make decisions to close theatres,” he said.
Culture Minister Nathalie Roy says the funding will go toward up to 500 organizations and artists from October until the end of March 2021.
The financial boost comes after Quebec also announced help for closed bars and restaurants in red zones throughout the month of October.
Roy said Friday that she is also in talks with owners of movie theatres, which have also been ordered to shut down in designated red zones.
“I am confident that we will find a way to help them,” she said.
— With files from Global News’ Tim Sargeant and the Canadian Press