Arts funding in the Capital Regional District is having an impact in a variety of ways, board members heard this week.
The CRD Arts and Culture 2021 progress report, presented at the July 13 board meeting, showed the grants not only helped those directly involved in creative programming and performance return to what they do best, the availability of such activities and events positively affected people’s mental health and well-being.
According to the report, 2021 saw participating jurisdictions (Saanich, Oak Bay, Victoria, Esquimalt, View Royal, Highlands, Metchosin, Sooke, Southern Gulf Islands) invest more than $2.5 million into CRD arts and culture initiatives, funding that was provided to 83 local non-profit organizations and artist-led partnerships.
The funding helped develop more than 4,000 events and employ over 3,600 people, the vast majority of which were paid artists. The employment numbers showed a rebound of sorts from the pandemic-driven downturn of 2020, but have yet to draw even with the pre-pandemic funding impact seen in 2019. The events were attended by nearly 1.72 million people, although 93 per cent of them did so online, the report states.
“While the arts sector was particularly hard hit by the pandemic through 2021, arts organizations in the region continued to take on the challenges that came with the safe reopening, providing programming that supported the well-being and health of the region,” CRD arts commission chair Jeremy Loveday said in a release.
While CRD numbers were not included, the report stated that 34 per cent of B.C. residents took part in creative activities in 2021 and the average B.C. resident spent eight hours a week engaged in such pursuits, up from five hours in pre-pandemic 2019. A telling statistic was that 24 per cent of people surveyed replied the most important reason to do so was to improve mental health, up 12 per cent from the 2019 figure.
“Those that attended said the performances were medicine,” reads a reported quote from a representative of Culture Den Society, on the group’s presentation of the film MOTHER: embodied earth performance.
A participant in Our Place Society’s Music Therapy at New Roads program said it “helped me rediscover who I am as a musician, poet and artist; bringing joy and passion to a form of art I had forgotten about in my addiction,” they wrote.
The full report, with stories from grant recipients, can be found online at bit.ly/3Rzp5AV.
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