COVID-19 community supports

The AFA has compiled a list of community supports available to artists, cultural workers, and arts organizations that may be helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jump to regional specific info:

<< Go back to COVID-19 information for AFA stakeholders.

Other resources

In addition to the programs described below, special funding programs established by municipal and federal arts funders may also be helpful: 

You may also wish to view arts opportunities on AFA News for new programs announced by arts organizations through our website. You can also go back to Useful Links on our main COVID-19 page. 

Note: Recently announced initiatives without clear actions or funding amounts attached, or campaigns (e.g. GoFundMe) with less than $10,000 raised have not been included in this overview.


  • Inclusion of community resources below is not an endorsement by the AFA of the organization or campaign, or any organization or campaign identified in the resource. Individuals and organizations  viewing information on this page do so at their own risk. The AFA does not guarantee the accuracy of any information published herein, and the AFA recommends that users conduct their own research of organizations and campaigns. This page is subject to the same Terms of Use as the AFA News feed. 


The Rozsa Foundation is a philanthropic organization known for effective support and advocacy for the arts in Alberta. The foundation has introduced two new granting programs in response to COVID-19, providing $400,000 of additional investment into the arts sector.

  • COVID-19 Programming Cancellation Grant - Provides grants of up to $10,000 for organizations with an operating budget up to $1 million, or up to $20,000 for organizations with an operating budget above $1 million. These grants will help to cover the cost of artist fees paid out to those whose contracts had to be terminated due to COVID-19 related cancellations between March and June 2020. These funds can either be used to pay contractual obligations to artists who have not yet been paid or to restore funds already used to pay artists.
  • Online Programming Grant - Provides grants of up to $15,000 to create innovative programming or activities that can be shared digitally with an audience. This presents arts organizations with an opportunity to use technology to deepen connection to community, reach new audiences and implement a digital approach to programming that may continue beyond this period of physical distancing.

New: On May 7, the Rosza Foundation announced a partnership with Calgary Arts Development and the Calgary Foundation to make this grant available to individual artists, artist collectives, registered non-profit arts organizations and charitable arts organizations.

The Alberta Partners for Arts and Culture (APAC) are meeting frequently with its national partners throughout the COVID-19 crisis to share information and advocate for Alberta’s arts sector with municipal, provincial and federal governments and funding organizations.

  • Advocacy initiatives include communicating the urgent need for adequate support for arts organizations, cultural infrastructure, individual artists, and cultural workers in our province.
  • For regular updates, impact surveys, and supportive resources, APAC encourages individual artists and organizations to follow their representative arts service organization or cultural industry association.

The Alberta Nonprofit Network is an independent network of nonprofits that advocates in response to strategic issues impacting the nonprofit sector in Alberta, and shares information and resources.

  • To help provide a picture of the impacts of COVID-19, the Alberta Nonprofit Network conducted a survey of the sector between March 30 and April 5, 2020, garnering 474 responses. It has published a report on its findings in order to provide information to governments, organizations and funders about the impacts of the pandemic and what is most needed by the nonprofit sector at this time.

Back to top


The Calgary Foundation has created the Pandemic Recovery Program to support charities during COVID-19. Albertan charities can apply for a grant for support through the foundation, and there is no maximum eligible amount set. Application information can be found on their Pandemic Recovery Program page. Through the program, Calgary Foundation will:

  • Redirect $2 million of its discretionary granting resources to the Program.
  • Match new donations made to the Pandemic Recovery Program (up to a maximum amount to be determined).
  • Cover administrative costs/credit card transaction fees so that 100% of donations are directed toward charities.

The Elephant Artist Relief Fund (EAR) provides two emergency assistance programs of up to $2,500 for professional artists in urgent need due to an unforeseen medical emergency or other catastrophic event. Application information for both programs is available on the EAR Funding page: 

  • The Emergency Relief Fund is specifically for visual artists in the Calgary region and has been in place for over ten years.
  • The Rebound Fund provides support to artists in all other disciplines and was introduced in response to the 2013 floods.

The Stan Brown Benevolent Fund is a fund made available for all Calgary Musician Association members that have fallen into hardship.

Back to top


Edmonton Community Foundation has committed $500,000 to seed a COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. The fund will provide grants to charities to address immediate and long-term needs related to the unfolding pandemic.

  • Charitable arts organizations may be eligible to access the fund; however, the foundation will leverage its relationships with other funders and networks of charity partners to determine grant recipients and amounts granted. There is no application form.
  • The Province of Alberta will match gifts to this fund made during April 15 to May 31, 2020 and subject to the maximum levels set by the Province. Visit the Rapid Response Fund page to donate. 

Back to top


#CanadaPerforms is a $700,000 short-term relief fund that pays professional Canadian artists and professionally published authors for their online performances. Artists who are selected will receive $1,000 and their online performance will be broadcast on the National Arts Centre’s Facebook page.

  • Artists can apply via the #CanadaPerforms application page. Given the high number of applications, the application period has been temporarily closed until the review of submissions received until April 20 has been finalized.
  • Funding contributors include Facebook Canada, Slaight Music, RBC Foundation, and SiriusXM Canada. National Arts Centre administrates the program, and the Writers’ Trust of Canada is collaborating through an advisory role and CBC Books will be joining forces to amplify #CanadaPerforms literary events.

The CBC Creative Relief Fund provides immediate, urgent support to Canadian creators. Up to $2 million in development and production funding will be provided for original Canadian storytelling, including scripted comedies and dramas, unscripted entertainment, kids and young adult programming, podcasts, play adaptations and short documentaries. Applicants can apply to one of three streams:

  • Innovation stream - multiple development and production opportunities on all platforms for established and emerging creators to apply;
  • Playwright Pilot stream - open to playwrights with at least one produced play to submit either new concepts or existing plays for adaptation on all platforms;
  • Short Docs stream – for documentary filmmakers to produce content related to COVID-19. CBC Short Docs is looking for stand-alone, immersive documentaries under 40 minutes in length, intended for a digital audience.

CBC has also launched the Art Uncontained website and a $1 million artist fund with Canada Council for the Arts. Art Uncontained aims to offer inspiration for audiences and support to the Canadian artistic community.

  • Funding can be accessed throug the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Originals program, a new time-limited funding initiative to help artists, groups and arts organizations pivot their work for online audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until June 15, 2020, or until the budget has been allocated.
  • An overview of available content through Arts Uncontained is available on the CBC Arts website.

Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund – The Writers’ Trust of Canada and The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) announced the creation of the Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund to provide support to professional authors and visual artists financially affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. The fund distributes grants in amounts of $1,500 to writers/artists that have seen contracted or projected income evaporate due to the current public health crisis. Financial support for the program is supplied by three program partners—the Writers’ Trust, TWUC, the Royal Bank of Canada, and Access Copyright Foundation.

  • The program has seen two rounds of applications so far (ending April 9 and April 20, respectively). No information has been announced whether a third round will be announced. 
  • The Writer’s Trust of Canada normally offers the Woodcock Fund Grant, emergency funding ($2,000-$10,000) to professional Canadian writers in mid-project facing an unforeseen financial need.

The AFC (formerly known as the Actors’ Fund of Canada) supports all entertainment industry professionals working in TV and film, music, theatre, and dance. The AFC can provide short-term emergency financial assistance for essential household bills and costs that cannot otherwise be paid.

  • AFC cannot consider requests for payments that are due more than one month in advance at this time due to the current crisis. AFC does not provide compensation for lost earnings. Learn more through their COVID-19 information guide

The Unison Benevolent Fund provides emergency relief services to the Canadian music community.

The Glad Day Lit Emergency Survival Fund is provided by a support organization geared towards LGBTQ2S people, Glad Day, which is uniquely positioned to be able to identify and support LGBTQ2S artists, performers, and tip-based workers who are in dire financial need.

  • As of April 4, more than 1,600 people have requested emergency help, with the organization being able to help 350 so far. It is actively seeking donations to be able to support 500 people in dire need.

The National Theatre School of Canada is allocating $60,000 in support of emerging artists (as 80 grants of $750). These funds will be granted to theatre artists in training, or artists who have completed a theatre training program within the past five years, to present a piece of art online.

Back to top

National membership organizations supports

You may need to be a member of the following organizations to access below supports.

SOCAN announced on April 2, 2020, that it is expanding its efforts to provide financial assistance to struggling members as a result of the COVID-19 crisis by allocating up to a total of $2-million for emergency royalty advances.

  • The program is primarily aimed at SOCAN’s songwriters and screen composers whose ability to sustain their income has been compromised by the impact of the crisis on the music industry, especially on those whose concerts have been cancelled, or whose television and movie productions have been suspended. The interest-free advances will be considered based on each member’s most recent earnings history, urgency, and need.

The Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists/West Chapter (CADA/West) has announced programs to support its members, including a payment plan for membership fees, increased subsidies on international online drop-ins and $250 Studio Renter’s Relief Fund.

National advocacy initatives 

Leadership Emergency Arts Network (LEAN) is a new, immediate, grassroots, pro bono response network to help Canadian professional non-profit arts organizations (big and small) during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • More than 100 advisers are participating, including: sector leaders including board members, current and former arts Executive Directors, consultants from across the country.
  • Organizations may contact LEAN to receive advice on strategic decision-making, crisis response, financial analysis, board direction, relationship mediation, HR management, systems change or inspirational leadership.

Business / Arts is a national charitable organization that advocates partnership between business and arts, provides training to arts-based non-profit organizations, and facilitates government funding support for these training programs.

  • Through its Arts Response series, Business / Arts is speaking to leaders in government, business and the arts about the impact of COVID-19 and its impact on the arts across Canada. 
  • Business / Arts has also launched a video series - How are you Adapting? - where arts leaders from across Canada share how they are adapting their programming and business models in light of COVID-19. The goal of these videos is to share innovative approaches, best practices, and inspiration from across the arts community. These videos are available as part of the Arts Response series.

One Voice for Arts + Culture (OVAC) is a growing network of Canada’s not-for-profit arts and culture organizations and institutions. OVAC is proactively organizing an infrastructure and forum for communication; expanding its membership; and advocating on behalf of the arts and culture sector across Canada.

  • OVAC seeks to present issues and ideas in a single, unified, inclusive voice to government and elected officials to ensure the survival and sustainability of the arts and culture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

I Lost My Gig Canada is an online space for creative industries and other vulnerable freelance and gig economy workers to connect and share stories in response to growing income precariousness in Canada.

  • The website features a summary of fiscal data provided by respondents that provide an overview on how much revenue the users have reported lost during the pandemic.

Back to top

Additional initiatives

The Photographer Fund is a $25,000 fund for photographers struggling to make ends meet created in response to COVID-19 by Format. Format is an online portfolio platform designed for photographers to show their work and promote their business.

Spotify released a COVID-19 Music Relief project working with non-profit organisations and donated funds to support their initiatives. They are making a donation to these organizations and will match donations made via the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief page dollar-for-dollar up to a total Spotify contribution of $10 million.

The Artist Relief Tree is a funding initiative, first launched on Facebook by three individuals, to support self-employed artists. As of April 14, 2020, a total of $293,199 has been raised.

  • Individual artists can apply to receive $250 of support.
  • More than 3,500 requests for support have been submitted to the platform. Additional requests are not currently being accepted.

A COVID-19 mutual aid fund (through the GoFundMe crowdfunding platform) is currently fundraising to support members of the LGBTQI+ community who are also Black, Indigenous or People of Colour. A total of $217,090 has been raised as of April 22, 2020.

  • Individuals are eligible to receive $100 to $1,500, depending on funds available and based on need.
  • 3,065 funding request have been received to date.

Live Nation has introduced a fund called Crew Nation specifically for touring and venue crew members that depend on live shows to make a living.

  • Crew Nation is powered by Music Forward Foundation, a charitable organization, that will be administering the fund.
  • Live Nation has committed $10 million to Crew Nation—contributing an initial $5 million to the fund, matching the next $5 million given by artists, fans, and employees dollar for dollar.

Back to top