Toronto, ON — Canada’s creative screen industry has ground to a halt in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and the ISO recognizes that Indigenous screen-based creators and workers are being hit hard by postponed productions, lost contracts, canceled festivals, closed cinemas and lost revenue opportunities.  We are aware that these and other cancellations are affecting many people in our community who rely on productions, events and gigs for their main income.

While it is too early to determine how long this shut down will continue or the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, we are asking arts-based employers, non-profit organizations and film and TV producers to make timely decisions around the health and welfare of their employees.

We advise everyone to keep an inventory of all lost income and additional unforeseen expenses during this time.  The ISO is going to start tracking lost revenue projections for the Indigenous screen-based industry and we will send out communications regarding this soon. This information is crucial to advocating for a swift response from all levels of government.

As independent arts industry workers, we are all particularly vulnerable to the economic impacts of this crisis. The $1-Billion federal stimulus package announced on March 13 did not include any apparent provisions for arts and culture workers in the “gig” economy.

ISO will be joining our voice to those of our partners that are asking that provisions be made for independent arts and culture workers and other groups who are particularly vulnerable and at risk.  We will be consulting with other industry players and stakeholders as strategies are mapped out and will ensure that the concerns of our Indigenous community are clearly positioned.

ISO will be taking steps to advocate for support and compensation for screen-based independent workers for cancelled or postponed productions and will ensure the necessary resources and supports are there for our community.

We will share through our social media any information on support systems or strategies that becomes available that can help unite our community through this difficult time. There currently are industry social media hubs where industry workers are gathering to share information, employment opportunities and discuss strategies to help those most affected.

We encourage everyone to participate in these threads, share what you know and make suggestions.

We also encourage everyone to take the proactive, preventative measures currently being recommended by public health officials to minimize risks to our communities and our colleagues, particularly those most vulnerable which includes Elders and those with weakened immunity and chronic illness.

Take care of yourselves and each other.

Jesse Wente

Executive Director

Indigenous Screen Office

The Indigenous Screen Office’s mandate is to support Canadian Indigenous screen-based industry through the development, production and marketing of Indigenous content.