Canada Council for the Arts has announced a new arts initiative to support efforts to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada. The press conference took place earlier today at Montreal’s Théâtre d’aujourd’hui.
Starting in April 2016, the new initiative will support arts organisations that wish to provide free access to refugees to a performance, exhibition or arts event in their communities. The announcement was made by Canada Council CEO Simon Brault and Isabelle Hudon, executive chair, Québec, who were joined by senior vice president client solutions at Sun Life Financial Canada, where staff will be fundraising to contribute to the scheme.
‘Our message on behalf of the arts community to newcomers is ‘welcome, we are so happy to have you in our communities, we welcome you to our spaces, performances and events when you are ready.”
‘We know the welcome and integration of refugees is a highly complex and multifaceted process, and this initiative is one modest piece of much broader collective and national efforts said Brault. ‘We also know that arts and culture can be a refuge, a celebration of diversity, and source of inspiration and connection. Our message on behalf of the arts community to newcomers is ‘welcome, we are so happy to have you in our communities, we welcome you to our spaces, performances and events when you are ready.”
For 2016-17, the Canada Council will commit CAD150,000 (€99,550) to support the arts initiative, whilst Sun Life Financial will contribute an estimated CAD50,000 through its Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy Branch.
Said Mélanie Joly, minister of Canadian Heritage: ‘All Canadians are encouraged to join in the efforts to help Syrian refugees flourish in their new communities. I am pleased to support this initiative that will allow newcomers to discover Canadian culture through enriching cultural and artistic experiences.’
Her words were echoed by Isabelle Hudon executive chair Sun Life Financial, Québec: ‘Our employees were eager to contribute to the group effort, and on Thursday we announced the launch of a special fund in the form of a donation matching programme for our employees and advisors. Sun Life will match their donations dollar-for-dollar, up to a maximum of CAD50,000, to support the Red Cross as it works to provide basic needs for refugee families.’
‘Our partnership today with the Canada Council for the Arts also reflects this commitment. We believe that integrating into a new land includes getting to know local people and culture, and that cultural spaces are an ideal place for them to do both. This additional donation is made possible through our national Making the Arts More Accessible programme, which enables those with lower financial means to enjoy free, or reduced price, cultural activities.”
Details of the arts companies involved in the scheme will be announced in March 2016.