Arts Commons Supports its Employees through COVID-19 Pandemic

April 03, 2020

For Immediate Release
April 03, 2020

CALGARY – Today, Arts Commons announced a decision to keep all salaried employees fully employed until June 2020, leveraging the Federal Government’s unprecedented 75% Wage Subsidy Program. While the Arts Commons building remains closed to the public, key priorities continue to be: following the protocols required to keep the community safe through the COVID-19 pandemic, finding ways to keep financially stable, and supporting our employees while preparing for eventual recovery. 

Facing a potential $3.2M in revenue losses and an uncertain future, Arts Commons chose to focus on three objectives:

1. Living our Values – Do the Right Thing; Be Open: Minds, Hearts, Arms; and Be Our Best Always.

2. Retaining staff – Safeguarding the financial and mental wellbeing of our valued staff, minimizing disruption as much as possible.

3. Focusing on the Future – Continuing to serve our community in the best way we can during this difficult time and ensuring that staff remain engaged and moving work forward so that we can hit the ground running when we open our doors again.

With the Federal Government’s introduction of the 75% Emergency Wage Subsidy Program, on March 30, 2020, Arts Commons made the decision for all Arts Commons salaried employees to remain fully employed. Because Arts Commons was able to cut expenses by $2.1M since the venues had to be closed, we are also able to pay the remaining 25% requested of employers, by the Federal Government, to keep salaried employees at 100% of their salary. This will allow the organization and our employees to continue to advance as much work as is feasible, in preparation for when we are able to welcome the community into our spaces again.

If Arts Commons remains closed when the Wage Subsidy Program expires on June 6, 2020, and assuming there is no extension to the program, temporary layoffs may be required, which could affect approximately 62% of staff. In preparation, Arts Commons applied for and was approved to implement the Federal Government’s Supplementary Unemployment Benefit (SUB) program, allowing us to top up EI payments to the allowable maximum of 95%, as per the program guidelines.

By fully utilizing both programs, Arts Commons is able to save 42% of budgeted labour costs, while keeping staff whole.

“Our employees are essential to our business and are a part of the community that we are committed to serving,” said Colleen Dickson, Chief Financial Officer and Interim Co-CEO. “We want to ensure that our staff feel supported during this difficult time and remain engaged, so they are ready and able to welcome Calgarians back to our venues when the time comes.”

This effectively means that all Arts Commons salaried employees will continue full time employment through to June 6, 2020. If layoffs are necessary thereafter, those affected will retain a minimum 95% of their salary. All health and dental benefits will remain intact as well. Arts Commons has planned for this as far out as fiscal year-end, which is August 31, 2020.


For media inquiries or more information contact:
Tasha Komery, Corporate Communications Strategist


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