Here’s welcome news: EPCOR boosts Heart + Soul Fund with an additional $1 million`

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

In a devastating year for the city’s performing arts, EPCOR has again stepped up with welcome news and a boost. At a press conference Monday the Edmonton utility announced an additional $1 million infusion to its $1.25 million Heart + Soul Fund.

That community recovery fund was launched last August to support Edmonton’s hard-hit arts, cultural and charitable organizations through the bleak pandemic time. It was designed, as EPCOR CEO Stuart Lee put it at the time, to “re-energize” a city whose vibrancy and identity are so inextricably linked, heart and soul, to the very sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

And as we found out, artists and audiences alike, Heart + Soul grants have made a big difference in this theatre town. They were put to a wide variety of uses, by theatre companies of every size and shape. Some grants were used to transform in-person to virtual experiences, or to modify venues for changing pandemic restrictions and closures. Streaming equipment was acquired; production costs or artist fees were covered, along with losses in ticket revenue; programming was re-thought, new marketing initiatives launched, safety measures implemented.

A Christmas Carol, the digital version of the Citadel Theatre production, assisted by a Heart + Soul grant. Photo by Raoul Bhatt.

In all, some 47 arts, culture, and charitable organization received Heart + Soul funding in 2020. One hundred and eight new works were produced by 13 Edmonton theatres; 440 artists had Heart + Soul support; six festivals were able to offer virtual and in-person experiences; seven performance programs featured Indigenous art.

The $1 million second round of one-time only Heart + Soul grants, varying in size from $5,000 to $100,000, is at hand. And resourceful arts companies can use them in a multiplicity of ways.

Theatres, this means you! And if you were successful in the last round, you can apply again, with a new idea or initiative for negotiating the challenges of the time

Again, capital projects are not eligible. Applications (available, with further details, at epcor.com/heartandsoul) are accepted starting now, until the additional $1 million is used up.

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