MONTREAL -- Ottawa is committing $400 million over two years to support festivals and cultural events across the country.

Half of the money will be used this year, even for those who have decided to postpone their activities or who plan to return in the summer of 2022.

Federal Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly and Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault were on hand at the Phi Centre in Montreal Monday morning to offer more details on the funding, which was first announced in the last federal budget.

First, $200 million will go to the Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative, with funds to be distributed through federal regional development agencies. The money will be used to support the cash flow for major events, but also to adapt to the pandemic and to comply with health regulations. It may be distributed in the form of grants or loans, depending on the nature of the event.

Festivals with annual revenues of more than $10 million can apply, starting Monday, through an online portal on the Canada Economic Development website.

Joly said she wants to ensure that the country's biggest festivals, such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Quebec City Festival d'été, the Toronto Film Festival and the Calgary Stampede, continue to survive in 2021 and come back in force next year, when international tourists return.

"That's the idea: to help them survive the pandemic and also to continue to keep jobs that are linked to their operations. We already know that some festivals have decided to hold their events in the fall, and have postponed their activities, while others have simply cancelled. We will be able to help them to be ready for 2022," she said in response to a reporter.

Another $200 million over two years will be available through Canadian Heritage to support local festivals, outdoor theatre, heritage celebrations, local museum exhibits or amateur sport events in communities across the country. The funds will be distributed through existing programs starting this year.

Of this amount, the federal government is setting aside $54 million "to support celebration and commemoration programs once Canada emerges from the pandemic," according to a news release provided by the department.


The federal government is dedicating $300 million in its Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Recovery Fund to assist organizations still suffering from the effects of the pandemic and to help them resume their activities.

The funding includes $60 million over two years to help national sport organizations restore their programs and services, $17 million to host sporting events and up to $6 million to help Olympic and Paralympic athletes with their quarantine costs for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Some $57 million over two years will go to supporting community media or local news, including through the Local Journalism Initiative, of which The Canadian Press is a recipient.

The Canada Council for the Arts will receive $50 million next year to support research, creation and production, market development and innovation in the sector. And the Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto will receive $20 million 'to make important and urgent repairs and improvements.'

Other investments are aimed at promoting Canadian films and books, helping financially challenged theatres and supporting organizations dedicated to professional arts training.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 28, 2021.