98 arts and culture groups to receive special COVID-19 funding

Groups say money will be used to pay workers, bills and plan for the future

Nearly 100 arts and culture organizations in Nova Scotia are getting one-time grants between $2,000 and $75,000.

The province released the list of 98 recipients on Wednesday. The $2.1 million, first announced in November, is supposed to help the arts and culture community that has been struggling during COVID-19. Live theatre, festivals and other events were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Scott Long is the managing director and executive producer of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. He said they plan to use their $75,000 grant to keep people employed and cover other operational costs. They had to cancel the 2020 show, and are unsure of how it will operate this year.

“We’re just anxious to get back to some sort of new normal, where we can do what we do best, which is put on shows, and perform and entertain people,” said Long.

Zuppa Theatre Co. is receiving $15,000. Zuppa has been running in Halifax since 1998, but had to cancel all live shows and a tour in Ireland when the pandemic started.

Alex McLean, the co-artistic director, said they’re using the money to hire writers and collaborators to create new shows, so they’re ready for when they can have an audience again.

He said they’ve been “comparatively lucky” throughout the pandemic. Zuppa has an office but not its own theatre space.

“My concerns are what happens in a year? What happens in two years?” said McLean. “There’s a lot of people out there whose concerns are, how do I pay rent?”

McLean said a continual worry theatres face is that it may take awhile for people to feel comfortable being part of an audience again. Zuppa is planning a show they hope to perform live in December.

Zuppa also has its app, Vista, which started in 2018 to provide a walking tour with a twist. Designed to be done anywhere, the app takes the listeners on a walk as they hear different dialogues about public health.

The app transitioned quite easily into the COVID-19 era. Vista20 was updated to include experiences of public health workers in Nova Scotia during April and May of 2020.

The culture sector employs 13,000 Nova Scotians and is valued at $929 million, according to the Nova Scotia government.

Emily McRae

Emily McRae is a journalist based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Have a story idea? Let us know