People in show business know how to be heard better than anyone. Several stars have political connections and they do not deprive themselves of it. No more than politicians do not deprive themselves of showing off with artists.
From the first days of containment, artists were among the first to cry out for help. The first reaction of Nathalie Roy, Minister of Culture and Communications, was to call on them to “reinvent themselves”. She evoked the legendary creative spirit of Quebec artists. The call to reinvent oneself has insulted many.
Surely eager to impose himself as the new Minister of Heritage, Steven Guilbeault showed more eagerness. It still took several weeks before he took concrete action.
Ottawa has since opened the floodgates. According to the estimate provided to me by Minister Guilbeault’s press secretary, his department has so far granted more than $ 4.5 billion to the world of culture, arts and heritage. This sum includes the Emergency Wage Subsidy (SSUC) and the PCU.
EVEN MORE MONEY IN JULY
In the spring, an amount of $ 115.8 million paid to the Media Fund and Telefilm came to the rescue of the audiovisual industry, which has come to a standstill since mid-March. In July, Minister Guilbeault extracted an additional $ 145.66 million from his Prime Minister’s cornucopia for cultural periodicals, small broadcasters, the music industry, third-language producers and all other cultural organizations that had not yet received assistance.
Since Tuesday, the transformation of the PCU into the Canadian Economic Recovery Benefit (PCRE) will allow hundreds of self-employed workers in the arts and culture (the “intermittents” as they are called in France) to receive some income for the next 26 weeks.
Minister Guilbeault will finally be able to breathe – industry too! – when the $ 50 million COVID compensation fund, created for filming and television series, becomes effective. Treasury officials are working out the details of this unusual insurance.
ARE OUR ARTISTS CHOOSE?
Did the “largesse” of the federal government or the growing discontent of the artists push Minister Nathalie Roy to put her hand in her satchel? Hard to say. Still, the minister added $ 300 million in new money to a budget that is almost $ 1 billion. This new contribution will go to the production of films and series, to cultural organizations that have had to close their doors, to the broadcasting of shows online, to the remuneration of musical works and to the creation of original works.
Because of the pandemic, it is therefore an additional sum of approximately $ 2 billion that the Trudeau and Legault governments have so far devoted to artists and artisans in Quebec. They are at least more fortunate than the thousands of workers in the restaurant, hotel or airline industry.
They are also luckier than artists from Great Britain. Not only did Boris Johnson’s government urge them to change jobs, it took part in an advertising campaign to encourage them to do so. This campaign aroused indignation and Oliver Dowden, Minister of Culture, had to dissociate himself from it and apologize.