It’s going to be a tough go, financially, for the next little while for artists and arts organizations, according to arts council executive director Ken Blackburn, but art will always persevere. Photo by Marissa Tiel/ Campbell River Mirror

The Campbell River arts sector prepares to weather COVID-19 storm

Financially, it will be a tough go, but the arts are never really about money, they’re about the art

The arts and culture community in Campbell River will be taking a huge hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Campbell River Arts Council Executive Director Ken Blackburn, but he’s confident it will weather it like it’s weathered so many other emergencies.

“We’re probably headed towards a total shutdown of just about everything, it seems,” Blackburn says. “All sectors going to be affected, and the arts are certainly no different in that regard.”

But the arts sector, Blackburn says, has some particular concerns.

“In terms of the immediate impact, many arts organizations financially function pretty close to the bone,” Blackburn says. “A lot of them hope their fiscal year ends – in a good year – come very close to balancing out at zero. So when you stop revenue for places like theatres and galleries, these places are really depending on attendance to balance their books, so when you don’t have a lot of fat built into your budget any kind of loss in revenue can put some organizations into the red and be a tipping point for them.”

But the arts sector certainly isn’t alone in that, Blackburn admits.

“I think it’s true for a lot of sectors, particularly the not-for-profit sector,” he says. “Most of them always operate pretty close to break-even. It’s going to be trying times.”

There is hope, Blackburn says, that there will be some kind of compensation package or grant situation that will be made available at some point, but he doesn’t know what that could possibly look like, even after his decades in both the art and not-for-profit sector.

“I would really hope that we see, in the near future, some kind of government assistance to compensate for the losses everyone is going to feel,” he says. “The arts are an absolutely sound investment from government at all levels, whether it’s municipal, provincial or federal. They are the reason our communities are healthy and vibrant and sustainable. The government should have a responsibility to step in and ease that burden. I mean, they do it in the private sector all the time – you’re going to see all kinds of government support for the economy, businesses and corporations, and I would hope they wouldn’t forget or ignore our not-for-profit sector.”

RELATED: Tourism industry advocate calls for emergency fund in wake of COVID-19 cancellations

One thing Blackburn would like to point out to people is that there is some discussion already happening on that front.

“There are some communications happening right now telling artists and art organizations to carefully track and monitor their losses from this,” Blackburn says, “and I would highly encourage that, so that you’re prepared to present what exactly those losses are should there be a program put in place to compensate people.”

But art, in its essence, isn’t about money, Blackburn says, and he does see the faint hint of a silver lining in all this.

“More and more people are going to be spending more and more time at home,” he says, “so there’s a possibility that the arts sector, being made up of creatives, after all, can find a new way to reach people in their homes, whether that’s by streaming a concert online to an empty theatre, as I just saw the Vancouver Symphony do, or a gallery photographing all of the works in a given show and having an online exhibition where they can encourage and foster the discussions they were hoping to have in person.

“I want to be positive and think that artists will find creative ways to maintain that social connection through alternative means when social connection isn’t, physically, a good idea.”

And he’d like to think, long-term, it’ll be worth doing just that.

“When we return to a more normalized state and get back on track, I think people will remember that the arts went through a tough time, but they kept trying to keep the community buoyant and were positive, and they renew their membership, they make a donation and get a tax receipt, they attend the events, supporting them full-on. If the arts keep sending it out, which they will, it would be nice to see it come back when we normalize.”

There could be a whole lot of spectacular work that comes out of this situation, as well.

“The arts has always been an amazing window into what’s happening in the world, and these are crazy times,” Blackburn says. “There are a lot of artists that are going to take this opportunity to get some work done and reflect and observe things that we’ve never seen before. I’m sure we will get some tremendous new works out of this.”



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greg Janicki (left), owner of Dogwood Pet Mart rasied $410 this year for the Campbell River SPCA’s Loonies for Love fundraiser which he presented to Stephanie Arkwright, branch manager of the BCSPCA – Campbell River Community Animal Centre. Photo contributed
Pandemic doesn’t stop annual Loonies for Love SPCA fundraiser

Fundraising has been a bit challenging over the past year, but the… Continue reading

The intersection at Dogwood Street and 13th Avenue, next to the No. 1 Firehall, will see some improvements over the next six weeks or so, according to the city. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Intersection improvements coming to Dogwood and 13th Avenue

Expect delays for up to six weeks once work begins, city says

Oyster River fire has responded to 56 calls so far in 2021. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Department
Oyster River Fire averaged one call per day in busy February

One weekend saw 12 calls for service from crew

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program are rehearsing this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for their upcoming virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Timberline Musical Theatre hoping for last minute ticket surge

Popular annual run of shows costs $7,000-$8,000 to put on. They’ve sold $750 in tickets

NIC Practical Nursing instructor Barb McPherson (right) is pictured with student Rebecca Wood in 2018 in NIC’s SIM lab. NIC photo
Learn about Practical Nursing opportunities for Island students

Students interested in exploring a future in health care are invited to… Continue reading

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read