OTTAWA – Thursday, April 16, 2020 – When PAL Ottawa and the Ottawa Arts Council learned that a generous anonymous donor wished to donate $50,000 through their fund at the Ottawa Community Foundation to support local artists and arts workers struggling through the COVID-19 crisis, they had underestimated how great an emotional impact it would make in our senior artistic community.
This financial support was designed to assist artists and arts workers aged 55 and over living below the poverty line as they encounter a loss of work and income. The Ottawa Arts Council and PAL Ottawa were asked to distribute funds as quickly as possible into the senior community. Thanks to a dedicated three-person online jury composed of artists from the community, more than 75 applications were reviewed and assessed, resulting in 50 Ottawa freelance artists receiving $900 in their mailbox as of today.
PAL Ottawa Board Chair, Peter Haworth said, “Everyone at PAL Ottawa is so grateful to the donor and so thrilled to see the lift it has given our fellow senior arts workers.”
Feedback from the artists has been extraordinary. “You’ve made me feel like a musician again,” noted one of the applicants upon hearing news that their application was approved. Another shared, “Even more than the very real and urgently needed financial support, I should communicate how your gesture also boosts my spirit, inspiration and motivation – without which an artist has no fuel to create.”
Nicole Milne, Executive Director of the Ottawa Arts Council, said her inbox has been flooded with letters of gratitude from the artists. “Included in these messages were links to online books they’d written, newly composed music they wanted to share, and photos of their artwork that the artists asked us to pass on to the donor as a gesture of their appreciation.” She added, “The outpouring of gratitude has been something remarkable to witness, and I’m so pleased the Council was approached by PAL Ottawa to help get this much-needed funding into the community quickly.”
One of the applicants spoke candidly about how the gesture gave added value to the industry, stating, “Your donation is a validation of the arts as an important part of life and society. You’ve allowed us to feel our contributions matter. As people sit in their homes reading books, looking at films and TV programs, streaming music, literature and plays –– in essence taking solace from every art form –– it’s clear that art is critical to connecting us, to each other and to our shared humanity.”
Visual art, theatre and music were among the disciplines with the highest number of online applications, with artists working in the literary arts, dance, film and TV industries not far behind. While funding was primarily distributed in the Ottawa core, artists from as far as Arnprior, Chrysler and Plantagenet regions also benefited.
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For media inquiries:
Nicole Milne, Executive Director, Ottawa Arts Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Haworth, Chair, PAL Ottawa: email@example.com