COVID-19 Update: April 1, 2020

The Winnipeg Arts Council is deeply concerned about the effects of COVID-19 in our community. The arts are not alone in facing these difficulties but the challenges for our community are unlike anything we have ever had to deal with. We want the artists and organizations of Winnipeg to know that we are doing what we can to weather this uncertain time.

Winnipeg Arts Council staff are currently working, however the office is closed to the public and we will not be taking any in-person meetings in the immediate future. You can continue to contact us by email and we encourage you to reach out where you have questions or concerns.


Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts: The 2020 Mayor's Luncheon for the Arts has been cancelled. We cannot in all conscience invite the arts community to support this event given the difficulties they face. Of course the current guidelines for social interaction do not permit gatherings and the immediate future for such events is uncertain.

The Winnipeg Arts Council Awards will be rescheduled for the fall when hopefully we will be able to come together and celebrate the artists and arts organizations that are now through any means possible, making a difficult time endurable. A date in early October is likely and we will keep you posted.


Awards Nominations: In the meantime, we continue to welcome nominations in each of the five Awards categories. The nomination deadline has been removed, meaning that submissions will be accepted on an ongoing basis until dates have been confirmed. Please visit for nomination information.


Impact of the Pandemic on the Arts Community: In consultation with the organizations funded by the Winnipeg Arts Council, numbers have been assembled that demonstrate the impact of cancellations on box office, entrance fees, private sector donations and other sources of revenue. The focus of these numbers has been on the months of March and April and we estimate that the loss to the community in the short term is more than $8 million, with some 900 jobs lost temporarily.

These losses will continue to grow as the pandemic stretches further into the year as more summer events, festivals and tours are cancelled. The Winnipeg Arts Council shares this unprecedented situation and resulting uncertainty and will continue to work on behalf of the artists and arts organizations of Winnipeg.


Multi-year Grants: The Winnipeg Arts Council is working with the City of Winnipeg to expedite payment to all organizations currently receiving three-year Operating or two-year Program Support grants. Payments will be made as soon as the City has released the funds to WAC.

Organizations which have reduced, rescheduled, or cancelled events and programming as a result of COVID-19 will still receive their 2020 grant. Multi-year grant amounts are currently being revised to reflect the City of Winnipeg’s budget which cut the WAC allocation by 10%. New grant amounts and payment information will be provided as soon as possible.

While we are aware that changing circumstances make it impossible to develop new programming plans with any certainty at present, we appreciate being kept abreast (by email) of new developments.


Project and Individual Artist Grants programs are running as normal:

Project Grant applications submitted at the February 4 deadline are currently in the assessment process. We are modifying our procedures to conduct grant juries in accordance with directions issued by public health officials. This involves moving to an online assessment which is currently being worked out with the assistance of colleagues across the country. It is our intention to deliver grant results in the normal timeline.

Individual Artist Grant applications submitted at the March 10 deadline will be assessed in the same manner as the Project Grant process described above.


Professional Development Grant applications are suspended indefinitely.

Artists and organizations currently holding grants for activities which are impacted by COVID-19 should be in contact with the Winnipeg Arts Council by email to determine what steps, if any, are necessary. We understand that the circumstances will be different for each and every artist and organization and we will work with you to manage the situation as best we can.

Please note that because of the rapidly changing nature of the situation, circumstances may change at any time. We understand the uncertainty caused by the situation and we sympathize with all who are affected, in our sector and beyond.

As has been pointed out by our colleagues at other agencies, it is paramount that artists and organizations document, as much as possible, the effects of the COVID-19 situation. This includes the financial, artistic and any other impacts you are sustaining as a result of this unprecedented public health crisis.

As the world continues to be locked down, art plays a major role in getting people through this difficult time. Whether it’s folks singing together across balconies in quarantined Italian cities, or local artists offering lessons, lectures and performances via YouTube, the world is united through the arts. The Winnipeg Arts Council is proud to serve our community and we will continue to do so to the best of our abilities.  


Winnipeggers are encouraged to bookmark the following resources:

City of Winnipeg’s COVID-19 information page

Province of Manitoba’s Current Risk Status page