When the pandemic hit Bradley Tones was forced to cancel all of the programming for his non-profit theatre group PLAY Society.
His teachers were let go and Tones took on a voluntary role to try to keep the society afloat.
However, last week his group, The Professional Live Arts for Youth Society, received an Expanded Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement in the amount of $18,000.
The Resilience Supplement was handed out to organizations that receive annual operating funding or project grants by the BC Arts Council and is part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.
The money, read the press release, can be used towards paying for operating costs, like rent and utilities, paying artists and protecting or restoring jobs, such as theatre technicians, production designers or arts administrators.
“It’s huge,” said the organization’s founder that provides an affordable option for theatre and musical theatre programming for families, mostly children, from 6- 18 -years-old.
In Maple Ridge the group offered after-school programming to students at Glenwood Elementary, Kanaka Creek Elementary, Harry Hooge Elementary, Alouette Elementary, and they were just starting a program at Whonnock Elementary, before everything had to be shut down.
PLAY Society is one of two Maple Ridge organizations to receive a resiliency grant from the province.
The ACT Arts Centre also received $50,000.
“The Resiliency Supplement is intended to help our organization cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis,” explained executive director Curtis Pendleton.
The money, she said, will be put towards: the financial impacts of reduced-capacity programs; expenses to ‘pivot’ to virtual programs in their learning classes and gallery outreach; COVID-19 expenses related to the facility; and re-start plans and programs.
It was awarded based on their previous budget and scope of their programs, added the head of the local arts centre.
Pendleton echoed Tones about the importance of the grant at this moment in time.
“Every grant and source of income is important, right now and in the future, as we plan for a slow recovery,” noted Pendleton.
Pre-pandemic the ACT operated on a budget of around $2.4 million and generally received operating funding from the BC Arts Council in the amount of $22,000 annually, she explained.
“So, although this doesn’t represent a large percentage of our annual operational expenses, this additional supplement is a significant increase in the investment the province is making in ensuring that arts and culture institutions have the best chance of recovery,” she added.
In the Lower Mainland, 318 arts and culture organizations received $9.5 million through the B.C. government’s StrongerBC plan for economic recovery.
This supplement was part of $21 million from StrongerBC to support the resilience of the arts and culture sector.
“By supporting the organizations who employ and support artists and arts and culture workers, we are making the sector more resilient and, in turn, keeping our communities vibrant,” said Bob D’Eith, parliamentary secretary for arts and film, who noted he is looking forward to working directly with the sector to chart a path to recovery.
Tones will be putting the money towards new video equipment in order to film the performances so the parents and families can still see the shows moving forward.
A little of the money will also go to recoup costs from last year including refunds to parents and to some of the teachers’ wages.
Tones is also hoping to revamp the society’s website and put money into marketing.
“So we can come back with guns a-blazing and get back to what we do best,” he said.
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