Coronavirus Response for the
Live Performance Sector

Last updated: Aug 18, 2020         Hyperlink to this document:

        Version française

For the most up-to-date and authoritative information regarding the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada, please consult the website of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the website of your local public health authorities.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

Jump to:

  1. Introduction
  2. Monitoring and information sharing
  3. Federal Assistance Updates
  4. Measuring impact
  5. Upcoming online support events
  6. Resources
  1. From public health authorities
  2. Collections of resources
  3. FAQs and resources from funders
  4. Business continuity, economics, and HR
  5. Support for artists and agents
  6. Livestreaming and digital performances
  7. Webinar recordings
  8. Mental Health
  9. Other resources
  1. Recommendations for the Live Performance Sector
  2. About this document


This document was designed with the intention to provide factual information, recommendations and resources to help the live performance sector prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada. This document shouldn’t be seen as a substitute to official information from public health authorities.

If you have information that you would like to share in this document, please reach out to or 

Monitoring and information sharing

CAPACOA created a mailing list to monitor problems associated with COVID-19 and share best practices for dealing with them. If you wish to stay tuned or to report unfortunate events, you may subscribe (and unsubscribe) to this list here:

CAPACOA has also launched a private Facebook group for Canadian presenters to share information.

Federal Assistance Updates

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (as at May 1):

To qualify for CECRA for small businesses, the property owner must meet the following requirements:

  • You own property that generates rental revenue from commercial real property located in Canada
  • You are the property owner of the commercial real property where the impacted small business tenants are located
  • You have a mortgage loan secured by the commercial real property, occupied by one or more small business tenants
  • You have entered or will enter into a rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May, and June 2020, that will reduce impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75%
  • Your rent reduction agreement with impacted tenants includes a moratorium on eviction for the period of April, May and June 2020
  • You have declared rental income on your tax return (personal or corporate) for tax years 2018 and/or 2019.

Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations (announced April 17):

The Government of Canada is providing $500 million in 2020-21 to establish a new COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help address the complex financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors.

The Fund is meant for organizations that can’t qualify for the existing wage subsidy because of the lumpy or irregular nature of their revenues as well as to cover contract workers. The Fund will also provide advances on future grants and contributions to help maintain liquidity as well as small subsidies to cover some fixed costs.

* UPDATE (May 8th):

  • $198.3 million will be allocated to the arts and culture sector through existing funding programs at Canadian Heritage.
  • $55 million will be distributed through Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) in order to help artistic organisations that support artists.

Two-phased approach to speed up the distribution of funds:

o   Phase 1 is for funding recipients who are projecting a significant financial impact as a result of the pandemic:

  • Top-up to existing recipients through Canadian Heritage’s arts and culture programs, which include the Canada Arts Presentation Fund, Canada Arts Training Fund, and Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program. To simplify the process, current recipients of targeted programs will only need to fill out an attestation. The minimum amount awarded will be $5,000.
  • CCA will use a formula-based approach to deliver the funds. Clients will be able to apply for up to 25% of recently approved funding.
  • If your organisation receives funding from more than one participating department or agency, you may only request funding from one of these organisations for support from the Emergency Support Fund.

o   Phase 2 will provide temporary support to other organisations, which include those in the arts and culture that do not currently receive funding from Canadian Heritage, the CCA, and our other participating organisations. Further details on Phase 2 will be announced in the coming weeks.

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (changes announced April 15):

  • There’s no limit on the amount of royalty payments for past works (i.e. those produced by artists before the crisis) that an artist may get while receiving the CERB;
  • Someone receiving the CERB may get paid up to $1,000 a month from other sources of income, without penalty or losing their eligibility (and again, royalty payments aren’t included in that category and may be earned on top of the $1,000);
  • Someone who wasn’t working when the crisis started, but lost contracts or work that would have otherwise started had it not been for the crisis, can qualify for the CERB. All they need to demonstrate is that before the crisis they would have been working (this is especially helpful to live performance artists and technicians who have less work during the winter and many would have only started working again in the spring on productions and events that are now cancelled);
  • People who run out of EI can then switch to the CERB.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (changes announced April 8):

  • Businesses/organizations can use January and February as reference points for revenue decline
  • For the month of March, they need to demonstrate a 15% decline in revenue rather than 30%;
  • Not-for-profit organizations and charities have the option to include or exclude government funding in their revenue loss.

Other updates

The most recent information on Canada’s COVID-19 Emergency Economic Response can be found here: 

Measuring impact

It is critical that we track the impact of this crisis on our sector so that we may advocate for support and plan for recovery.

A revised event tracking spreadsheet is now available to track cancellations, postponement and events moved online. This spreadsheet can be used internally, by individual arts organizations, or collectively by all members of the same ASO. Instructions on how to use the spreadsheet are provided in the “introduction” tab.

Several ASOs have been developing a more robust impact assessment framework to measure losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have an existing impact measurement model to share, please contact Frédéric Julien, at

We encourage you to track the impact on your organization/work/venue as much as possible, and to respond to any surveys that you might receive from individual ASOs. The I Lost My Gig Canada’s Impact Survey is a good survey for individual cultural workers.

Upcoming Online Support Events

Our sector is coming together to support each other during this unprecedented time. Here are just a few upcoming activities that may be of use. All events are free of charge unless otherwise specified:

CAPACOA Weekly Presenters Town Hall

PACT COVID-19 Weekly Town Hall for the Canadian Performing Arts Sector

  • Every Thursday, 1-2pm EDT
  • Open to all

Bi-Weekly Conference Call for Ontario-based Presenters

  • Every other Thursday from 10-11am EDT
  • Weekly call for Ontario Presents member presenters, but open to any other presenters who may find the discussion useful. Email for call-in coordinates

NAPAMA: Moving Forward Mondays

  • Weekly webinar to discuss essential business issues that need attention as the paradigms are shifting
  • Available to NAPAMA members, find out more here

NAPAMA: Wellness Wednesdays

  • Weekly webinar, rotating topics to feed your body, mind, and soul
  • Available to NAPAMA members, find out more here

Weekly Call for Artists and Agents

Safety Chats with Don Parman, Actsafe Safety Alliance

ActSafe Weekly Calls, every Wednesday

  • Join Don Parman, Actsafe’s Manager of Performing Arts Programs and Services, virtually to discuss any safety issues or concerns that the performing arts and live events industries are facing during these testing times.
  • Contact Don at to get signed up


From public health authorities



Collections of resources

COVID-19 FAQs and resources from funders



Business continuity, economics, and HR

Support for artists and agents (also see business continuity section above)

Livestreaming and Digital Performance

Webinar recordings:

  • ONN/Imagine Canada COVID Webinars:

  • Featuring Dr. Stuart Weiss, Intelligent Crowd Solutions and Janet Sellery, Event Safety Alliance
  • To view recording: Locate the box on the right hand side with the title of the webinar, Click on the box, Click the orange “View Video” button

Mental Health Resources:

Other resources:

Recommendations for the live performance sector

  • Stay informed – with information from reliable sources. Base your decisions on factual information provided by local or provincial/territorial public health authorities. Think of your organization as a partner of public authorities in the efforts to slow down the spread of the virus.
  • Listen to public health advisories. Avoid any unnecessary travel. Stay home.
  • Implement communication plans. Develop and disseminate holding statements to reassure and inform employees and patrons (see resources below).
  • Provide means for your employees to work from home, if possible.
  • In order to minimize your box office loss, you can offer ticket holders alternatives to a direct refund. Alternatives to a refund can include a donation in lieu of a refund, an exchange or a credit (see this template prepared by Orchestras Canada). If you do invite ticket holders to donate the face value of their ticket(s) in lieu of a refund:
  • Inform the donor of how you intend to use the donation (i.e., create a fund to support artists and contract workers);
  • Be explicit about if and how you will issue a tax receipt (if you don’t have charitable status and you can’t issue a tax receipt, say it);
  • Consider creating a special ledger account to keep track of these donations.
  • When performances resume, encourage audience members to stay home if they are sick. Review your policies for ticket refund and ticket exchange. Loosen these policies so that your audience members don’t have a financial incentive to come to the theatre sick. Consider asking patrons to leave your venue if they are displaying symptoms associated with the COVID-19.
  • When performances resume, consider strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus (see resources below). Make sure your staff and volunteers are well aware of hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and encourage them to lead by example. You may consider additional sanitization focusing on door knobs, handrails and other frequently touched surfaces in the lobby and in the bathroom. Those may be most effective during attendance periods – before intermission or before the end of the performance.
  • Be clear about your contractual obligations with regard to cancellations. Review your Force Majeure clause. Review your insurance policy for event cancellation and non-appearance.

Be safe, be kind, be supportive to one another.

About this document

This document was created by CAPACOA, in collaboration with the Performing Arts Alliance and partner associations such as Ontario Presents, the Canadian Live Music Association and the Ottawa Festival Network. The document is collectively maintained by CAPACOA and its partner associations. The risk assessment and the recommendation to members represent our best opinion in the light of available information. Any question about this document can be addressed to Sue Urquhart, at