Posted on May 14, 2021


EDMONTON — After more than a year of the live event industry begging the UCP government for pandemic support, the Government has announced a project-based grant that will leave venues on the hook for operational costs with no revenue coming in.

The Stabilize Live Music Grant, which will include $2 million in grants to for-profit venues, and micro-grants for individuals, is project-based. This means that venues and artists must use the money for a future event and cannot apply this grant to operational costs or retroactive projects during the pandemic. The micro-grants will provide up to $1,500 to projects and for-profit music venues can apply for up to $25,000 for a project.

“Once again the UCP are steps behind what industry in the province needs,” said NDP Critic for Culture Nicole Goehring. “We’re fourteen months into the pandemic. Venues and live event spaces have already been pivoting their projects, platforms and services to respond to the pandemic."

“The industry has been clear with the UCP that they are in need of pandemic support to make it through to the other side. I’m concerned that these venues, which provide a huge boost to our economy, could be in serious jeopardy.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 16 live event venues in Alberta have shut down permanently. 

The Ministry of Culture business plan for 2021 states that $15 million in one-time funding will be provided to offset operational costs and support reopening once it is safe to do so. The money designated for venues with this grant is only 13 per cent of that total amount.

Earlier in 2021 the government launched part of the Stabilize program that could be used for venue operational costs for non-profits and sport teams, which for-profit live event venues could not apply for. 

Timur Inceoglu, Senior Talent Buyer for MRG Live, books national and international tours through central and western Canada, utilizing many of Alberta’s venues regularly.

"Music associations, venues, promoters and those connected to the music and culture industry have been lobbying for support from all levels of government in an effort to stick around until the reopening,” said Inceoglu. “It's been fourteen months since the beginning of the pandemic and the companies and people who've dedicated their lives to this sector in this province will need continual investments such as this in a far more regular pattern."

The newly announced grant does not allow applicants to use the one-time funding to cover operational costs. It also does not allow venues to use the funding retroactively, for projects and events already completed during the pandemic. 

In 2018, Alberta’s live experience sector contributed $662.7 million to GDP and supported 14,580 jobs in Alberta.

“It’s an important pillar for our economic recovery to support this industry because they cannot operate while we have the current public health orders in place. They have been closed for more than a year, with no opportunity to open operations,” said Goehring.

Along with the innovation grant, micro-grants have been included for individual project applications. These grants are also not allowed for operational costs or retroactive project compensation.

“The UCP has chosen the wrong vehicle to deliver this money. Venues have been clear and I worry that the government has squandered their opportunity to truly help out the live event industry while we deal with a massive third wave and no guarantees this industry can resume operations any time soon.”