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Pivot grant announced for arts sector recovery

New Pivot for Individuals grant | Applications now open

Monday January 18, 2021 | Victoria, BC

by Kiley Verbowski | Island Social Trends

A new grant program called Pivot for Individuals is now open for application, announced the provincial government with the BC Arts Council this week.

Artists can apply to the Pivot for Individuals grants of up to $12,000 to learn new skills or adapt their practices in response to the myriad of stresses that COVID-19 has put on the arts industry. Artists are also able to apply for support for professional development, like mentorship or training.

“Together with the arts sector, we are working hard to make sure that dancers, writers, painters and other artists can continue being resilient and finding innovative ways to keep creating through COVID-19,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “We’re building on our support for arts and culture in British Columbia by helping artists adapt their work, ensuring our province has a strong creative industry to enjoy when the pandemic is over.”

Who can benefit from this new grant?:

Many artists have been unable to work or worked less due to the temporary closures of venues and restricted audience sizes. The B.C. government’s new $500,000 Pivot for Individuals program through the BC Arts Council is intended to help professional artists, cultural workers and arts administrators adapt to these challenges.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.

The program is available to professional artists and cultural workers, including:

  • dancers and choreographers
  • visual artists
  • writers
  • actors
  • multi-media artists
  • arts administrators

Applications are open until February 16, 2021. The BC Arts Council will adjudicate and award the grants in early spring 2021. There are two categories:

  • Category 1: Adaptation and Transition
  • Projects that allow individuals to make bold pivots or transitions in their artistic practice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants may apply to adapt an existing work or body of work or undertake research and establish new approaches to their work.
  • Category 2: Professional Development
  • Assistance is available for professional development opportunities or specific learning activities that will sustain or advance an individual’s career.
  • The deadline for applications is February 16, 2021. You can learn more about the program here.
  • All applications must be submitted through our online application system. If you’re not yet registered, please do as soon as possible.
  • If you identify as Deaf and/or as living with a disability/ies and require accommodation or assistance to develop and submit an application to this program please contact the program officer directly or email bcartscouncil@gov.bc.ca for more information.

An uncertain future for local artists:

The arts sector, which can be a precarious industry at the best of times, is facing unknown challenges for recovery, and some practices may be changed forever.

Morgan Wright recently graduated with a BFA in Writing from UVic with specializations in poetry, theatre, and film, and is concerned about the lack of job prospects in their field. They lost opportunities to build their practice when a photography and social media coordinator job fell through last summer, and opportunities they were looking forward to this year have simply vanished.

According to Statistics Canada, unemployment in arts and culture is higher than average and has not recovered at the pace of other B.C. industries.

“Collaborative industries like film, which can already be pretty exclusive, are now even more insular due to safety concerns,” said Wright.

Gord Gordon, former president of the Sooke Arts Council, said that one change he hopes to see post-pandemic is, “more venues available for art,” referencing the new Sooke library (opening spring 2022) and the SEAPARC Leisure Complex (as has been used for the Sooke Fine Arts Show every summer for decades).

Sooke Library, external entry, rendering, May 2019
The new Sooke Library – external entry (rendering May 2019) [VIRL]

The Sooke Arts Council quickly adapted their annual art show Artifacts online in April 2020, only a month after galleries closed and shelter in place orders were announced.

Since then, the council successfully applied for a grant from the CRD to create a directory of local artists and events. They are currently seeking a Project Coordinator for that task.

Innovative adaptations for the time being:

In addition to regular grants through the BC Arts Council, the B.C. government has also provided 108 microgrants for artists to adapt their practices in 2020, and 740 microgrants to musicians to support free livestreams.

“As an independent artist myself, I know how daunting it is right now,” says Pat Henman, theatre artist and BC Arts Council member. “This new program will be so welcome by artists trying to maintain their practice. These grants offer financial support for professional artists who are vital to our communities and our economy.”

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