Effects of the Coronavirus on the Calgary Arts Sector

In the midst of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise that the arts sectors are going to take a big hit as large gatherings are banned. With festivals, concerts, shows, galleries, performances – whether major or local – being cancelled, many of those who work in these industries and live gig-to-gig are seeing their incomes dry-up. While the Calgary Arts Development has announced funding of $1.15 million for short-term relief to arts organizations and individuals who are impacted, the Arts Commons announced that they will at least be able to pay their staff until June. However, the future of the local art scene is uncertain in the long-term.

Film and Performing Arts

Furthermore, all film and television programs being shot in Alberta have been shut down. Stage productions and theatre spaces are closed. This leads to many people working in these industries facing unemployment. Additionally, all Calgary theatres are non-profit and depend on their productions to fund their future seasons. Since this is the case, there’s uncertainty as to whether these venues will be able to keep operating if they remain closed for months to come. Film projects are larger in scale and require various funding to start, with money being tight as organizations attempt to provide relief to various artists, the growth of the Alberta film industry will most certainly be even more hindered as it has already received provincial government cuts to incentives and grants in the previous year. Recovery will be slow.


With the cancellation of concerts and festivals, musicians, managers, and stage crew will see many of their sources of income disappear. Inevitably, the smaller, local artists will be hit the hardest and those at the top will be less affected. This could decimate the local music scene if it’s kept up for the long-term.

This is similarly reflected in Jerry Saltz’s article on Vulture about the art world after the pandemic.

 “I worry that such a sundering will only exacerbate the inequalities that more and more dominate this universe, with mega galleries and art stars surviving and the gap between them and everyone else only widening, rendering the scrappier artists and galleries something close to invisible.”


With many local artists being unable to work regularly, the community will definitely suffer economically, socially, and culturally. Many will be challenged with all these changes and will have to adapt. However, that’s arguably the nature of art, to be responsive to the current environment, whatever it may be.

Reference List:

Saltz, J. (April 2, 2020) The Last Days of the Art World… and Perhaps the First Days of a New One. Retrieved from

Accessed April 4, 2020.

Knight, D. (March 30, 2020) Short-term relief funding created for Calgary art sector amid COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from

Accessed April 4, 2020.

Knight, D. (April 3, 2020) Calgary Arts Commons to keep staff employed amid COVID-19 pandemic thanks to wage subsidy program. Retrieved from

Accessed April 4, 2020.

Green, K. (March 26, 2020) Alberta film industry and performing arts community hard hit by COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from

Accessed April 4, 2020.