Document Your Economic Losses from the COVID-19 Pandemic

A notice to TWUC members: 

Our first priority is the safety and health of our members, your loved ones, and the vulnerable in your communities. Please follow all government and health authority direction on reducing the spread of COVID-19.
 
Cancelled cultural events, the suspension of travel for arts professionals, and the general uncertainty around the return to a state of social and economic normalcy are causing a great deal of anxiety and discomfort in our sector. The Union is consulting with funders and government departments tracking the damage to the cultural economy resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to work closely with funding bodies to try and mitigate the impact this is having on you. We’ll keep you updated as information comes to us.
 
The federal Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts are requesting that all cultural workers carefully document the losses of opportunity and income resulting from the disruptions caused by the pandemic. While the Canada Council is interested in losses related to granted activities, we recommend members document all losses and suspensions to your planned activity whether or not you have received public money. The more information we can provide the government on this situation the better. We will let you know when we are prepared to collect this information.
 
The Minister of Canadian Heritage put out this quick statement about the situation, suggesting cancelled events supported by grants should still pay their artists:
 
“We will keep dispersing grants and contributions to arts, culture and sports organizations, even in cases of cancelled events. The dispersed funds should be used to cover costs incurred and reasonable costs of cancellations up to the total amount of the grant or contribution. This includes lost income for affected artists and technicians.”
 
Please see the links below for related COVID-19 information from your region:


The Canada Council for the Arts has suspended funding for international travel from March 16 to May 15. They are referring to this as a blackout period, and will accept applications for travel planned for after the blackout ends, but with the caveat that blackout dates may change and the period may be extended. You are advised to watch for their updates.
 
Canada’s Public Lending Right program period for registering new titles remains open and will receive your mailed registration as planned until May 1st. This deadline may be extended, and we will keep you updated. The PLR office itself is closed for the time being, but will still receive mailed registrations. That said, the PLR does not expect registrants to go to the post office during this period of social distancing if they are stressed or if public health advice does not support that. They ask that you do NOT send registration information to them by email, as they are not currently set up to receive it that way. If you have the hard copy package ready to go, and can drop it in the post, they can still receive postal mail and will store all received packages until they re-open. If you cannot post it at this time, hang onto it and await more information on deadline extension. Replacement and reissued cheques from the last payment period will be delayed until the PLR office opens again. They request your understanding and patience with any delay.
 
Access Copyright staff are working remotely, but the agency has noted: “We remain available to answer your calls and emails as per usual. Nothing will stop us from ensuring creators are fairly paid for the use of their works, not even COVID-19!”

The Writers’ Union of Canada offices remain closed, and staff are working remotely to the best of their capacity. We expect essential services and functions of the Union to continue. We’ll keep members updated on any TWUC schedule or program changes. For the time being, the application periods for the next round of both National Public Readings (June 1 to July 27) and Ontario Writers in the Schools (April 6 to June 2) remain in place. Please be advised that Union membership applications will take longer to process during the office closure. Finally, if you do not already, please follow the Union on social media during this time of isolation. Regional Facebook groups for members and the Union’s Twitter account @twuc remain active.
 
Stay safe. Keep writing and reading.
 
John Degen
Executive Director


DATE: March 17, 2020