AFA 2020-21 spending plan

Date: May 25, 2020

A message from Mary Rozsa de Coquet, Chair

To all members of Alberta’s arts community:

I wanted to take this opportunity to address you directly about the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) 2020-21 spending plan. I assumed the Chair on April 15, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta was tightening its grip on the province – we had 869 active cases on that day, only two weeks removed from our peak to date of 3,133 on April 30th.

The AFA board has been meeting frequently, all of us working to understand the implications of the pandemic, and the associated public health measures taken, on the arts sector in Alberta. I have been in regular contact with the Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women to discuss and clarify the role of the AFA in the government’s overall strategy to support Albertans through this crisis. The AFA will continue to adapt and respond as necessary to provide the best support it can to our Alberta artists and arts organizations.

Our Board of Directors has approved its 2020-21 spending plan based on the AFA’s current provincial allocation of $26.9 million. In our plan, the AFA is prioritizing support for arts organizations, through existing programs, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize the vital role arts organizations play in providing stability and sustainability for the arts sector, through employment, contracts, commissions, and other purchasing opportunities.

Under this plan, the AFA will be maintaining existing commitments and/or maintaining 2019-20 funding levels for most operating clients this year. With that said, the fiscal pressures being applied to government from multiple sources are unprecedented and the government has been clear all available resources must be streamlined to support frontline COVID-19 response efforts and public health.

As a result, the AFA will receive its 2020-21 allocation from government in installments throughout the fiscal year. This means the AFA will be required to disburse grant allocations in installments to the majority of its operating grant recipients. This change to the payment schedule will be communicated directly to grant recipients immediately.

Under the spending plan, we are also making adjustments to other programs including the following:

  • Discipline-specific project grant applications from the March 1, 2020 deadline have been suspended and withdrawn due to the unviable nature of the majority of applications due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Grant programs that primarily support travel have been suspended with any current applications withdrawn due to the unviable nature of these activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the Travel Grant for Individuals and Ensembles, Cultural Relations – Organizations, and Cultural Relations – Individuals.
  • Summer Schools project grants have been cancelled for this year due to the unviable nature of this programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Organizations: Art Projects and Indigenous Arts Projects for Organizations programs are being reviewed and are both suspended until further notice.

These decisions were not made lightly and I fully recognize the value these programs offer the arts community in normal times. Sustaining the viability of AFA operational clients at this time is key to ensuring recovery for Alberta’s arts sector after the crisis has passed.

The AFA recognizes we must be flexible to manage this time of uncertainty while still strategically investing our resources to minimize impacts to the organizations and individuals who rely on AFA funding. We will continue to publish updates, community supports, and other resources on the AFA website as the situation in Alberta continues to evolve.

In spite of these challenging times, I, along with my fellow Board members, look forward to serving Alberta’s artists and organizations, and fulfilling the AFA’s mandate to support, develop, and promote our province’s arts community.


Mary Rozsa de Coquet, Chair

Contact the Chair at