Major support for Festivals and Events included in 2021 Federal Budget

The 2021-2022 Federal budget, released on April 19, contained the best news RBC Bluesfest and other festivals and events across Canada have received in a long time.

The Government of Canada unveiled $200 million in spending to support major arts and cultural festivals (through regional development agencies) and another $200 million to smaller local festivals (to be administered by Canadian Heritage).

“This is a crucial step towards enhancing the sustainability of festivals and events across Canada,” says RBC Bluesfest executive director Mark Monahan. “Immediate relief is definitely needed, and we are encouraged to see that the plan includes longer-term relief as well. This funding boost will go a long way to bringing about a brighter future for the industry and help us to come back bigger and better.

“I’d also like to recognize the support of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Steven Guilbeault, the Minister of Economic Development, Mélanie Joly, and the Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, along with the lobbying efforts of FAME (Festivals and Major Events Canada) and The Canadian Live Music Association,” adds Monahan.

“If the pandemic is far from being over, Canadians can today reasonably hope to preserve their cherished festivals and events, where they will once again be able to celebrate with their friends and family,” declared the Executive Director of FAME, Martin Roy.

The Government of Canada has provided significant amounts as well towards the two main federal programs that benefit festivals and events at Canadian Heritage – the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program, over three years.

FAME has also been very active as part of the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, for the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – which helps organizers to retain their teams and expertise. The fact that the federal government has extended the program until the end of September is an additionally important development.

For FAME, which represents over 500 events across Canada, these measures recognize the fundamental role played by festivals and events in Canada’s cultural and tourism ecosystem.

A KPMG study in 2017 evaluated that a group of 17 Canadian events generated $290.8 million annually in economic impact, created or maintained the equivalent of 4,606 jobs (Full Time Equivalent), and produced fiscal revenues of $66.6 million; $17.3 million of which went to the Federal Government. This same study concluded that the Canadian Government recouped 1.78 times its investment in festivals and events by way of taxes.

“Today, our collective voice, which we all worked so hard to raise, has been heard. It is with great relief that we welcome Budget 2021, which clearly recognizes the integral role the Canadian live music industry plays in our quality of life – as well as its significant economic, social, and cultural benefits,” said Erin Benjamin, Canadian Live Music Association President & CEO. “Our industry has been devastated as a result of COVID-19. This support will help safeguard our nation’s critical cultural infrastructure – and the incredible people, artists and community whose passion and livelihood is live music. With today’s historic budget, our government has helped us to believe in the future – and we can’t wait to get there, together.”

RBC Bluesfest organizers, FAME, and The Canadian Live Music Association offer their full support for the implementation of the new measures announced in the Federal budget and look forward to helping the government further leverage the enormous potential of the festivals and events sector to stimulate economic and tourism recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.