Continuing pandemic creating ‘very difficult’ situation for northern Ontario arts scene

January 10, 2022
Continuing pandemic creating 'very difficult' situation for northern Ontario arts scene

As restrictions continue to be in place in Ontario in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, a Sudbury photographer said the ongoing pandemic is making it unpredictable for those in the arts sector.

On Jan. 5, the provincial government reintroduced new measures, in response to rising numbers due to the Omicron variant.

Organized public events are limited to five people, there are capacity limits on weddings and indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas are closed.

Rebecca Bose said it’s been difficult working as an artist.

“You can book as much as you want for weddings and jobs but you never know if you’re going to actually be able to do them,” she said.

“It’s definitely impacted my income. I’ve lost more than half of my income in the past year.”

Bose said in a typical year, she books between 15 and 20 weddings. Last year, she only ended up photographing seven.

To supplement her income, she ended up opening a studio to do business headshots.

“But basically, it’s just waiting things out,” she said. 

Bose said her art depends on going to live events.

“There’s no group gatherings for me to photograph,” she said.

“I do primarily documentary photography. Even my personal work that I do is like events, like marches and protests, and people aren’t coming out in the numbers they would.”

Hoping for ‘significant demand for the arts’

Andrew Boyd, president of the Sudbury Arts Council, said the pandemic is making things “grim all over” but adds some sectors are being hit worse than others.

“Live performance had a brief movement of partial recovery in the fall,” he said.

“The maker arts had a boost before the holidays. But visual arts have been severely impacted by this pandemic. It’s very difficult out there.”

Boyd said when the pandemic is over, he hopes “there’s going to be a significant demand for the arts.”

In March 2021, the provincial government offered $25 million in COVID funding for artists. Boyd said while that funding was appreciated, more is needed. He said he fears if it does come it will be “too little, too late.”

“The arts in northern Ontario are a fragile ecosystem,” he said. “This situation is definitely going to have long-term consequences.”

Up North6:40How is the latest wave of COVID affecting artists?

Starving artist. While the term isn’t new, the pandemic has perhaps given the phrase new meaning. So what’s it been like to ride the waves of COVID-19 in the arts? We asked Sudbury photographer Rebecca Bose and Andrew Boyd, president of the Sudbury Arts Council. 6:40

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