‘There’s a sense of panic:’ Arts and recreation businesses slammed by COVID-19 call for extension of federal support

By Irena Galea,

Many businesses in the arts, recreation and hospitality sectors already had slim margins, and normally depend on busy summer seasons to keep them going throughout the rest of the year. But with venues closed or operating at limited capacity, business owners have relied on subsidies such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to prevent them from falling into an uncomfortable situation: Take on more debt or drop the curtain permanently…

For some organizations, this government support has been enough. Ben Stone, artistic director at Halifax-based Zuppa Theatre Co., said border restrictions have cut into his company’s income, with two major events cancelled last year and plans to travel abroad to Britain this fall uncertain.
However, Mr. Stone said Zuppa was among the lucky ones: With no venue for which it had to pay rent, the theatre only used CEWS for the first few months of the pandemic. And it could rely on funding from other sources, such as small grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, to stay solvent.

Meanwhile, other businesses face rapidly deepening debt as subsidies decline and fixed costs remain the same or increase.“

Source: The Globe and Mail