To help our tenants and owners navigate the many challenges presented by COVID-19, Artscape has provided some answers to frequently asked questions and resources below, which we hope will be helpful. We will update this with new information as we learn more.
Last updated: March 27, 2020
FINANCIAL SUPPORT & RESOURCES
Q: Is Artscape able to offer rent deferral?
Market Rent Residential and Commercial Tenants
After a thorough financial analysis this week and approval from the Audit and Finance Committee of our board, we are able to offer our market rent residential and commercial tenants a 50% deferral of April rent on request. The portion of your rent that is deferred will be payable in small monthly instalments over a six-month period. If you require this option, please reach out to Kelly Rintoul, Senior Director, Artscape Communities, by no later than Monday, March 30, 2020 at 9:00 am to confirm.
Rent geared to income tenants in our social housing portfolio at Artscape West Queen West and Artscape Wychwood Barns can request a mid-year review if they are having difficulty meeting their monthly rental obligations. Please reach out to Vanessa Ferro ([email protected]) on our Artscape Communities team to initiate this process.
We are currently looking into programs with the City, our lenders and others to determine what operating costs can be deferred and will get back to you when we have more information to share.
Q: Is Artscape able to offer rent abatement?
Artscape is made up of a group of not-for-profit organizations and to fulfill our mission and vision, we engage in social enterprise to provide below-market opportunities to the arts community. We, too, are impacted by this crisis and we have made the very difficult decision to temporarily close down multiple parts of our operations that financially support the organization.
While we deeply understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on your livelihoods, Artscape is not in a position to abate rent at this time. We operate our facilities on a cost-recovery basis and there are no reserves available to shoulder that possible loss.
Q: Will owners impacted by COVID-19 be expected to pay common element fees? Can funds in reserve be used to cover operating costs?
Condominium owners at both Artscape Triangle Lofts (ATL) and Artscape Youngplace (AYP) should work with their condominium Board of Directors to determine if there is sufficient cash flow in the operating account to sustain deferral of common element fees for April. It is important to note that capital reserve funds cannot be used to offset operating losses.
As fellow owners at both ATL and AYP and members of both condominium boards know, those conversations are well underway. In the meantime, please reach out to your financial lenders for temporary deferral of mortgage payments. Service providers are also offering similar programs as well as property tax payments.
Q: Are government agencies offering financial support for artists?
Earlier this week, the federal government announced a series of measures to support Canadians facing financial hardship during COVID-19. The arts sector, in particular, have a number of conversations underway at all levels of government that will hopefully provide some relief to those artists whose livelihood is greatly impacted in the weeks ahead. It is critical at this time that tenants begin tracking income losses and document related effects on their operations. Organizations like CARFAC are in talks with the government to come up with a plan on how to support artists, cultural workers, and service organizations. This data will help inform those discussions.
Another such announcement was the Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which also launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program that will provide $2,000 a month for four months to eligible Canadians. These benefits can be applied online sometime in April through the CRA website. Further details are not yet known, but it appears that individuals will need to set up a “My Accounts” service with CRA. We encourage you to set up this account now so that it is already active once the application process opens in April for the Emergency Benefits programs.
Other government programs are being announced daily. See Artscape’s list of resources for more information.
Q: Are there other resources available to artists impacted by COVID-19 to help them financially?
Artscape and the Toronto Artscape Foundation are exploring setting up a number of programs and services to help its members, tenants and owners manage the disruption caused by COVID-19. We have the capacity to raise charitable donations and deploy them for uses deemed by Canada Revenue Agency to be charitable. We are currently engaged in a number of conversations to provide clarity on the actions we may be able to take as a registered charitable organization to provide support to our community and we hope to have clarity on this shortly.
Additionally, there are many other resources that can be made available to our tenants, owners and members at this time and as we recover from the devastating impact of COVID-19 in the months ahead. To help us make informed decisions based on magnitude of need (i.e. healthcare, housing or food security), we will be circulating a survey to all tenants, owners and members the week of March 30, 2020. We will determine the best use of charitable funds and availability of other resources based on responses to the survey.
Artscape has also compiled a list of financial supports and resources to help creatives and creative entrepreneurs navigate the COVID-19 and the resulting economic issues that will arise from the cancellation and slow-down of events, programs and storefronts that make up an artist’s income. This list is available on the Artscape blog, which you can subscribe to on our website and will also share these across our social channels. New programs and resources are being announced daily and we will continue to update this file as additional resources become available to you. We strongly encourage you to begin reaching out to your banks for support, utility companies, car loan companies and other service providers to alleviate the financial stress you may be feeling at this time.
To date, several key announcements have been made that will help:
- The federal government announced an $82 billion COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which includes an Emergency Support Benefit for those who are ineligible for EI and are facing unemployment due to sickness or lack of work due to the pandemic
- Canada banks jointly announced a plan to allow mortgage payment deferrals of up to six months to help customers struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19. (Contact your lender for more details.)
PREVENTION AND PROTOCOLS
Q: What Artscape staff are available and working during the COVID-19 situation?
Non-essential Artscape staff are being encouraged to work from home and a designated group of our team members have been identified as ‘essential service employees’. These are people who keep our facilities open and operational by either a) providing direct service on-site or b) serving as members of the senior leadership team. They include but are not limited to our: building operators, hub managers, cleaners, security people, member advisors, directors and executive team members.
Although our building operators have been deemed an essential service, please note that they will be prioritizing repair and maintenance requests within occupied suites to urgent requests only at this time and will be wearing personal protective equipment upon entry to the unit. Please continue to submit your requests using the maintenance portal at https://www.artscape.ca/servicerequest/ and the building operators will prioritize accordingly. After-hours emergencies should continue to be reported to our on-call building operator at 416-509-3984.
Note: Artscape Weston Common and Artscape Distillery Studios tenants should use the protocol currently in place for submitting repair and maintenance requests at these properties.
Q: What types of service requests will be considered “urgent”?
Examples of urgent maintenance issues include:
- A flood, loss of heat, plumbing leak or blockage which threatens to damage personal property or the premises;
- Dangerous electrical issues;
- Inoperable elevators or parking garage doors (barriers to access of space)
- Any condition that could be an imminent fire hazard;
- A refrigerator is out of order and the contents are in danger of spoiling;
- A loss of water or the toilet within the dwelling is completely inoperable;
- Security issues such as an exterior door is not able to be properly closed or locked outside of regular business hours.
Q: With community cultural hubs closed to the public, does this mean that I can’t continue with my programs and artistic practice?
Update: On March 23, the Provincial Government mandated the closure of non-essential businesses in Ontario beginning at the end of day on Tuesday, March 24.
On March 16, Artscape had closed our community cultural hubs to public access, restricting access to only tenants and owners, as well as their own invited guests. Tenants and owners may continue with their programming as long as they facilitate access for your program participants and implement travel screening protocols upon entry. This decision was intentional so that tenants and owners can maintain their artistic practice and continue to generate income, while also being in compliance with the government’s directive to limit large groups of no more than 50 from congregating.
Q: What screening protocols are in place for access at Artscape Community Cultural Hubs?
Update: Artscape Daniels Launchpad is now closed, as of Monday, March 23. Artscape acted upon the Provincial Government directive to close all non-essential businesses on Tuesday, March 24. Artscape Gibraltar Point has also halted all short-term residencies until the end of April. See details here.
All Artscape operated Community Cultural Hubs, including: Daniels Spectrum, Artscape Youngplace, Artscape Wychwood Barns, Artscape Weston Common, Artscape Gibraltar Point and Artscape Distillery Studios are now closed to public access until April 6, 2020.
Tenants and owners as well as their guests continue to have access to their spaces during this time but tenants and owners must open doors for guests and implement a screening process for all visitors to their spaces to assess their recent travel outside of Canada. A template for a screening process has been made available for implementation at your respective studios.
Please note that a Guest Entry Log has been placed at the entrances of all community hubs. All guests must sign-in upon arrival. Should a case of COVID-19 be confirmed at a community hub, the entry log may be provided to public health officials in order to track and contact people who have come in contact with that individual.
It is important to note that access protocols for tenants and their guests at Artscape-operated residential buildings remain as-is. However, tenants and owners are encouraged to implement a similar travel screening measure for their guests.
Q: What is Artscape doing to ensure the health and safety at our building?
Artscape has put a number of immediate measures in place to protect our tenant and owner communities, including: cancelling all Artscape-led programming and events at hubs , temporarily closing community cultural hubs to public access, implementing health and safety protocols with our staff and ensuring deep cleaning of all public surfaces and spaces. We have also provided hubs and residences with a COVID-19 Guest Entry Log form to help staff and residents within our communities screen visitors before gaining entry to the building as well as making available a template for a screening process for implementation at your respective studios.
Q: What responsibility do tenants/owners have in ensuring the health and safety at our hub?
All Artscape tenants and owners are responsible for implementing their own operational measures with respect to COVID-19 within your premises. We also request that you:
- Clean and Sanitize: Make special efforts to clean surfaces in your spaces, with particular attention to areas of high traffic.
- Wash Your Hands: The World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that hand washing is your best defense against contracting COVID-19. Visitors to our building will see posted hand-washing instructions provided by the WHO in the common areas and public washrooms. The most effective way you can help prevent sickness is by washing your hands frequently and minimizing contact with your face.
- Practice Social Distancing Etiquette: Minimize close contact with people by avoiding hugging or kissing and remaining at least 3-5ft apart from others with whom you are interacting. Always cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Stay Home if Sick: If you suspect that you may be ill or are displaying symptoms of: fever, cough, sore throat or headache, please stay at home, seek medical advice (Toronto Public Health:https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/diseases-medications-vaccines/coronavirus/) and rest until symptoms are gone or impose a self-quarantine until you can be tested and diagnosed.
Travel Advisory: If you or your staff have traveled to a COVID-19 hot zone region within the last month, please refrain from visiting Artscape for a period of 14-days upon your return.
Q: What can we do to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in our community at Artscape-operated buildings?
In order to decrease transmission of COVID-19, Artscape recommends that all tenants and owners practice social distancing to limit the number of people you come into close contact.
Social distancing includes, but is not limited to:
- Keeping at least 2 meters apart from each other
- Working from home where possible.
- Avoiding sending children to daycare, if you can.
- Avoiding visits to Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, Supportive Housing, Hospices and other congregate care settings unless the visit is absolutely essential.
- Avoiding non-essential trips in the community.
- If you have to go into the community for an essential trip via taxi or rideshare, be sure to keep the windows down.
- If possible, limit or consider cancelling group gatherings. If you have meetings planned, consider doing them virtually instead of in person.
Social distancing signage from the City of Toronto has been posted at our facilities as a friendly reminder.
REPORTING AND COMMUNICATION
Q: In the case of a tenant or patron of our hub becoming ill with COVID-19, what should we do?
A: The tenant must immediately report this to the Artscape hub/residential building manager, contact Toronto Public Health and self-quarantine for a period of at least 14 days or until symptoms have cleared.
All affected tenants/owners will be notified immediately of Artscape’s course of action, based on guidance from public health officials (Toronto Public Health) and a deep cleaning of the building will be conducted. A full building quarantine may also be required during this period.
Conversely, if a guest to your space is diagnosed with COVID-19, please confidentially report the diagnosis to the Artscape hub/residential building manager for your facility.
Depending on the information presented at that time, we will immediately notify Toronto Public Health and notify affected tenants and owners of Artscape’s course of action, based on the guidance of public health officials (Toronto Public Health) and conduct a deep cleaning of the building. A full building quarantine may also be required during this period. We may use the information contained in the Guest Entry Logs for public health purposes.
Q: I just returned from international travel. What should I do?
Tenants and owners within Artscape-operated buildings returning from international travel are asked to follow the protocols defined by public health agencies. Currently, returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days and practice social distancing in common areas immediately upon return. Please exercise great care to avoid human-to-human contact in the 14 days upon your return.
If you are experiencing symptoms, please seek medical help by contacting Toronto Public Health.
Q: I have a confirmed case of COVID-19. What will Artscape do if I disclose?
Artscape will immediately contact Toronto Public Health for guidance. We will need to identify the people who may have come into contact with the Artscape tenant/owner, including other staff and members of the community. We may use the information contained in the Guest Entry Logs for public health purposes. Be assured that Artscape will always prioritize the privacy of the infected persons, but may need to inform the general public about possible exposure to COVID-19. In this case, we will release a statement without any direct reference to you or without reference to any publicly identifiable characteristics to ensure your anonymity.
Q: How will you be notifying the public and patrons to our hub about changes including about preventative measures or closures?
Artscape is monitoring the situation daily and we are committed to keeping the community informed of our response to COVID-19. We will be communicating our response via our websites, through email and our Enews, our social media channels, and posted signage where relevant.
Tenants and owners are also asked to communicate changes to their patrons using their regular channels of communication.