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2020.03.23 Artscape COVID 19 Resources Social

Navigating COVID-19: Resources for Creatives and Creative Entrepreneurs

Artscape knows that COVID-19 is already having a pronounced financial impact on the creative sector. From cancelled performances and festivals to the shuttering and slowdown of storefronts, creatives of all disciplines are facing economic hardships this year.

While numerous professional associations have created their own COVID-19 resource guides, Artscape’s compilation focuses on a collection of financial resources and supports to help creatives across all of our communities navigate this situation.

As a first step, start tracking your income losses now.

Granting bodies, advocacy groups and government organizations will want to know exactly how much loss the creative sector will face due to these unprecedented times and, according to the Toronto Arts Council, “any potential compensation to be released following the crisis period will require documentation of impact.”

Table of Contents

  1. Rent Relief and Mortgage Payment Deferral Resources
  2. Food Security Resources
  3. Financial Relief for Utilities, Bills and Services
  4. Financial Assistance, Grants and Emergency Funds
  5. Community Funded Mutual Aid
  6. Creative Entrepreneur Supports
  7. Federal Government Programs and Supports
  8. Province of Ontario Government Programs and Supports
  9. City of Toronto Programs
  10. Granting Bodies Information
  11. Arts and Culture Advocacy Efforts
  12. COVID-19 information for the Arts and Culture Sector
  13. Stress Management Resources

Do you have a financial resource or support that will be particularly helpful to the arts and culture sector during COVID-19? Email communications@artscape.ca to submit. Last updated: April 2, 2020


Rent Relief and Mortgage Payment Deferral Resources

Toronto Rent Bank

Eligible households facing eviction may access one-time interest-free loans for overdue rent. Limited funding for Emergency Rental Deposit Loans is available for low-income households requiring first and last month’s rent to move into more affordable/stable housing. Those receiving social assistance or living in a rent-geared-to-income units are not eligible for Rent Bank services. More information here and here.

Akin Collective Rent Relief Fund

The Akin Rent Relief Fund has been established in collaboration with Rania El Mugammar to provide current Akin artists and creatives with anonymous, one-time emergency grants to provide short term financial aid in unexpected situations or times of financial instability. More information here. 

Red Cross – Community Housing Support 

The Housing Support program provides one-time financial assistance to families or individuals who are living in poverty or at risk of becoming homeless. Canadian Red Cross assistance is based on urgent needs. More information here.

Housing Stability Bank – The Salvation Army (London, ON)

The Housing Stability Bank offers financial assistance to low income Londoners to obtain and retain their housing and offers financial assistance to those at risk of homelessness to remain housed. More information here.

Mortgage Payment Deferrals

Canada’s six big banks jointly announced a plan to allow mortgage payment deferrals up to 6-months to help customers struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19. It is important to note that deferred mortgage payments are typically added back to the mortgage amount, meaning borrowers are simply postponing — not skipping — payments. Interest on outstanding balances continues to accrue.

The lender is allowing a payment deferral and your mortgage / loan will not be deemed in default. Other possible solutions include allowing borrowers to defer or temporarily reduce payments, stretching out the mortgage term or amortization period, adding missed payments back onto the mortgages and lowering the mortgage rate.

If you are seeking some relief from the financial responsibility of home ownership during this difficult time, call your lender to explore this option further.

Other resources to help you find emergency financial assistance


Food Security Resources

Emergency Food Support Request by Dames Making Games

Dames Making Games is working to support community members in the GTA who are impacted by food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis with donations of meals with the support of our friends at Santo Pecado Mexican Catering and members’ generous donations. Request support here.  

Black Creek Community Farms – Jane and Finch Community

Black Creek Community Farms are working to support residents living in the Jane and Finch Community who are most vulnerable to food insecurity with donations of food boxes. If you or someone you know in Jane and Finch requires emergency food support, please fill out this application form or phone the organization at 416-393-6381 (ex. 100).

COVID-19 Relief Effort by Canadian Muslim Response Network

The Canadian Muslim Response Network has launched an effort to ensure everyone in our community has the essential food and hygiene products. If you are in self-isolation, quarantined, or a senior individual, and do not have the access or the means to acquire basic food and hygiene items, please fill out this form.

Friendly Neighbour Hotline by Open Lab at University Health Network

A single phone number seniors living in low-income housing in Toronto can call, connected to a network of volunteers throughout the city who can help with picking up groceries and household essentials during this difficult time. Call the toll-free hotline at 1-855-581-9580 or see more information here.

Asian Unification Project

The goal of this project is to provide support for elderly & immunocompromised Asian communities by delivering groceries or running errands, minimizing the contact they have with the outside. More information here.

The Stop Community Food Centre’s Food Bank

The Stop Community Food Centre’s Food Bank provides a three-day supply of food, once per month, to individuals and families who live in our catchment area. ID with name and address is required to register. More information here. 

North York Harvest Food Bank – Multiple Locations

More information here. You can also phone the referral line at 416-635-7771 ext. 0 or email info@northyorkharvest.com to determine what food banks are still open and how to gain access

The Scott Mission  – Various Locations

The Scott Mission will be providing pre-packaged groceries and meals at various locations.  More information here.

The 519 Community Centre  – 519 Church Street 

The 519 will be providing free ready-to-go meals 7 days a week on The 519 patio in front of FABARNAK Café from Monday to Friday, 1pm and 4pm and on Saturday and Sunday at 12:30pm.  More information here.

Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre – 439 Dundas Street East

The Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre will be serving meals outside of the building in place of regular drop-in food programming; Call to confirm 416-360-4350. More information here.

Other resources:


Financial Relief for Utilities, Bills and Services

Toronto Hydro Financial Assistance

Apply for a $500 per year credit. More information here.

Internet Providers Waiving Fees

Telecommunication companies including Rogers, Bell and Telus will be waiving any additional usage fees for residential internet customers. TekSavvy also committed to stop charging overage fees until April 5, while Bell and Telus will be waiving overage fees until the end of April. Contact your internet provider for more information.


Financial Assistance, Grants and Emergency Funds

Opera Artist Emergency Relief Fund Fund

The purpose of this fund is to provide urgent funds to opera artists experiencing immediate cash shortages for basic necessities as a result of lost engagements in the wave of mass cancellations due to COVID-19. More information here.

The Writer’s Union of Canada & The Writer’s Trust of Canada – $150,000 Emergency 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 financially affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. The fund will begin with an initial amount of $150,000 and distribute grants in amounts of $1,500 to writers 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, and RBC.  More information here. 

CovertKit – The Creator Fund

ConvertKit has established an $150,000+ fund to help creators in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information here.

Behind the Scenes – Grants for Entertainment Technology Professionals

Behind the Scenes has three types of grants:

  1. The Basic Needs Grant
    For entertainment technology professionals who are seriously ill or injured and are seeking assistance with basic living expenses (such as rent or mortgage, property taxes, utilities, insurance and transportation) or for medical expenses (including health insurance, doctor and hospital bills, medication, physical therapy, home health care, and medical equipment.This grant is also appropriate if the eligible person has an immediate, dependent family member who is seriously ill or injured.
  2. The Counseling Grant
    For entertainment technology professionals who would like to initiate or support ongoing counseling or participate in an in-patient or out-patient recovery program.
  3. The Funeral Assistance Grant
    For immediate family members of an entertainment technology professional who has passed away and assistance with funeral costs is needed.

More information here.

The National Theatre School of Canada – Fund for Emerging Artists

The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) 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. More information here.

Toronto Arts Foundation and the Toronto Arts Council – TOArtist COVID Response Fund

To help the city’s artists who have lost performance income as a result of COVID-19, Toronto Arts Foundation is partnering with Toronto Arts Council to create the TOArtist COVID Response Fund. Qualifying artists will receive up to $1000 (about half a month’s rent). More information here.

Curating Care by Aboriginal Curatorial Collective

In response to gallery and museum closures and program suspensions due to COVID-19 across the world, the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective  is inviting Independent INDIGENOUS Curators and Arts Creatives to join their Curating Care project in order to receive a small honorarium. Deadline to apply for financial support is Friday, March 27th, 2020. More informaion here.

Modest Needs – Grant Application 

Modest Needs’ hallmark grant is the Self-Sufficiency Grant to assist individuals and families who, because they are working and live just above the poverty level, are ineligible for most types of conventional social assistance but who, all the same, are living one or two lost paycheques away from the kind of financial catastrophe that eventually leads to homelessness. More information here.

Glad Day: Emergency Survival Fund for LGBTQ2S artists, performers, tip-based workers

This emergency survival funds supports LGBTQ2S artists, performers, and tip-based workers, as well as helps keep to Glad Day Book Shop open. More information here.

Unison Benevolent Fund for the Canadian music community 

Unison Benevolent Fund is a non-profit, registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. We are here to help professional music makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties. More information here.

They also announced the Unison COVID-19 Relief Program, with $500,000 to support Canadian musicians affected by COVID-19, thanks to a generous $250,000 donation by the Slaight Family Foundation. More information here.

Unison also offers toll-free number to connect Canadian music professionals with resources and support for personal and practical issues. Call 1-855-986-4766.

Format’s 25,000 fund to help photographers impacted by COVID-19

If you’re a photographer facing financial difficulties, Format created this $25,000 fund for you. More information here.

AFC – the lifeline for Canada’s entertainment industry

Through compassionate and confidential support, we help Canadian entertainment professionals maintain their health, dignity and ability to work. More information here.

Woodcock Fund Grant: Emergency funding to professional Canadian writers in mid-project 

A $2000-$10000 (typical) grant for professional writers (min. of 2 books published or equivalent) who are in midst of a book-length project and is facing an unforeseen financial need. More information here.

NABS financial assistance for media, marketing, and communications pros

NABS is a unique charity specifically designed to support the health and well-being of all individuals in the media, marketing, and communications industry in Canada. They offer financial, career and personal counselling. More information here.

COVID-19 Black Emergency Support Fund

This is an EMERGENCY FUND for Black individuals living in the GTA, who, as a result of the pandemic, have lost income and are at a loss for how to fill their revenue sources, who now have unforeseen childcare costs, folks who have to find the money for children’s food now that schools are closed, artists, freelancers, and gig  gig economy workers who have lost out on gigs, seniors and elders in our communities, disabled folks, folks who are facing daily challenges of capitalism and are living on or near the street. More information here.

The National Arts Centre, Facebook Canada and Slaight Music Support for Canadian Performers

Last week, the National Arts Centre and Facebook Canada announced that it would provide $100,000 to support Canadian Performers Impacted by COVID-19. The resulting livestream fund, #CanadaPerforms has now doubled to $200,000 thanks to a donation by Slaight Music.

The fund pays $1,000 to each act for their livestream performances. Performing artists or ensembles (less than 10 people) can apply by emailing canadaperforms@nac-cna.ca and providing a description of their 45-60 minute performance, when they wish to share and on what platform. The concerts will be streamed live on the National Arts Centre Facebook page.

More information here.

Centre for Social Innovation’s Business and Community Resources Guide

A crowdsourced guide to support the community of social entrepreneurs during and after this unprecedented time. The resources here have been submitted by CSI Members and curated by our CSI staff team. More information here

Resources for Artists in the COVID-19 Crisis (Largely US)

Largely American, “Resources for Artists in the COVID-19 Crisis” is a list of emergency grants, freelance resources, legal aid, and more compiled by Kickstarter. More information here.


Community Funded Mutual Aid

Canadian Low-Income Artist/Musician Relief Fund

This relief fundraiser seeks to provide support for low-income artists and musicians whose livelihoods are being effected by this pandemic. Whether it’s from cancelled gigs, lost jobs, or a lack of business due to coronavirus scares, our intention for this fund is to collectively raise money in order to provide emergency and preventative resources to those at financial risk until our government puts a solid plan in action to help. More information here.

North American Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks 

This mutual aid fund prioritizes LGBTQI+, non-binary, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming people of colour because we often have less ties to familial support networks, we have historically been simultaneously overlooked and surveilled by welfare state systems, our needs have been surplus to mainstream political formations, and we tend to work in the gig economy. More information here. 

The Dance Plug Canada – Toronto Dancers COVID-19 Relief Fund

This fund is dedicated to the freelance dance artists residing in Toronto who are dealing with tremendous financial losses due to the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19 and the governments mandated social distancing. As most of you know, dancers in our community are not eligible to apply for Employment Insurance as the majority of them are independent contractors. These funds will be distributed in increments of $250 and will not exceed $1000. More information here.

City Share Canada

CityShare Canada is a crowdsourced platform that aggregates examples of community-based resilience in action, and that accelerates collective problem-solving to help local communities across Canada respond to COVID-19. Sharing on-the-ground stories, tools, and resources on how communities are coping and adapting, will hasten Canada’s resilience and recovery. Search for resources in your geographical area here.


Creative Entrepreneur Supports

Federal Government – Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

The Government of Canada established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, exportation and tourism. This program includes:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account: The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.
  • Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.
  • Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.

These programs will roll out in the three weeks after March 27, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions. More information here.

Federal Government – Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments

The Government of Canada will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports. More information here.

Business Development Bank of Canada – Purchase order financing

Cover up to 90% of the purchase order amount to ease cash flow to your suppliers. More information here. 

Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.  This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Daily Hive offers free Instagram advertising for small businesses

The Daily Hive is offering small business in Toronto free advertising through their Instagram static posts and stories. If you have an online component (i.e., e-commerce, take-out, gift card, pick-up services), or are now unfortunately closed but have a message of hope to send to their staff, customers, or community, email CovidHelp@dailyhive.com. More information here.

Digital Main Street – Resources for Small Businesses during COVID-19

Digital Main Street will continually be compiling a list of relevant resources for your small business needs. More information here. 


Federal Government Programs and Supports

Employment Insurance sickness benefits for COVID-19

Find out if you qualify for employment insurance, if you have a positive case of COVID-19 or if you are experiencing lay-offs: More information here.

Economic Response Plan for COVID-19

Numerous other initiatives announced by the federal government to aid Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic are forthcoming, including deferred tax payments, Enhanced Canada Child Benefits, interest-free student loans, and more. More information here.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The Toronto Arts Council clarified CERB in their March 26 update: “Also of note for arts organizations: workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, will also qualify for the CERB. This will help arts organizations keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.”

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). More information here.

Tip: Make sure to set up your  “My Accounts” service with CRA now so that it is already active once the application process opens in April for the Emergency Benefits programs.

Canada Revenue Agency – Tax Filing Extensions

For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the CRA encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.

Canada Student Loan – 6 month interest-free moratorium

The Government of Canada is instituting a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans. More information here.

Government of Canada – Increased GST Credit

Starting in May, the Government of Canada is planning on providing additional assistance to individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment under the GST credit. On average, close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples will be provided. No need to apply; if you are eligible, you will automatically receive the credit. More information here.


Province of Ontario Government Programs and Supports

Child Benefit

The Province is helping families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.

Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) – Loan and Interest Accrual Relief

The Province of Ontario is providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students, leaving more money in people’s pockets.

Ontario Works – Expanding Emergency Assistance Program

The Province is expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this public health emergency.

Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)

The Province is providing $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Guaranteed Annual Income System (Gains)

The Province is proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.

More information on these announcements here.

Six-month Insurance Premium Deferrals for Employers

The Ontario Government is enabling $1.9 billion in relief for employers to reduce the financial strain on business brought on by COVID-19. The measure, which will run through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), will see premium payments deferred for six months for all businesses in the province. More information here.


City of Toronto Programs

Toronto Employment & Social Services

Employment & Social Services provides financial benefits through Ontario Works, employment supports and social supports to people living in Toronto. More information here.

City of Toronto Economic Support & Recovery

The focus of the Task Force will be on quickly determining what current supports and stimulus work needs to be done. The City will work with industry partners to identify actions to support businesses, workers, and residents in responding to the economic impact of COVID-19. This Task Force will enable the City to better respond to the evolving challenges with its partners in government, business and non-profits. More information including immediate actions here.

City of Toronto – Utility Bill 30-Day Extension

Residents of the City of Toronto will automatically receive a 30-day extension on their utility bill to help during COVID-19. More information here.

City of Toronto – Property Tax 30-Day Extensions

Even with the 30-day extensions, the City of Toronto is still offering the early payment discount for property tax bills. More information here.


Granting Bodies Information

Canada Council for the Arts

COVID-19 information for CCA grant recipients and the community

Ontario Arts Council

COVID-19 FAQs and Guidelines for Grant Applicants and Recipients

Toronto Arts Council

COVID-19 Updates for TAC grant recipients and the community

Canadian Heritage

Information for Canadian Heritage grants and contributions recipients related to COVID-19

Access Copyright Foundation

COVID-19 Impact on ACF Grants

Ontario Trillium Foundation

COVID-19 Update

Factor Music Grants

COVID-19 Update – Cancellation Policy

Canada Media Fund

CMF to invest $353M in Canadian television and digital media production


Arts and Culture Advocacy Efforts 


COVID-19 information for the Arts and Culture Sector

Professional Association COVID-19 guides


Stress Management Resources

Finances are just one stress in this period of isolation and quarantine. The COVID-19 is causing high levels of stress and anxiety.

Take care of your mental health, and practice self- and community care in the months to come. Check in on your creative community, who may be feeling lonely or struggling behind closed doors.

We’ve compiled a few resources to help you manage the stress of COVID-10:

Friendly check-ins by phone or email by The 519

As access to community spaces is limited right now, The 519 is offering our communities a friendly phone or email check-in by The 519 staff once a week during Monday to Friday. This service is to check-in on how you are doing, and offer information and updates; it is not personal counselling but a way to combat social isolation. Register using the following online form.

Bounce Back Online: A Self Directed Course (Canadian Mental Health Association)

The Bounce Back Online, a self-directed course from the Canadian Mental Health Association to help people manage low mood, stress, and anxiety. The online version is available for free, no referral needed. More information here.

Work Responsibly

A collection of resources for a healthy and balanced approach to work, covering sleep, anxiety, stress and focus. More information here.

Other helpful stress management resources:


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