Kamloops arts and recreation organizations struggling to survive

·2 min read
The Kamloops Arts Council presented the installation, Luminocity in 2016. A group called Keep Kamloops fears local arts and recreation non-profits will go dark in a second year of the pandemic.  (Facebook.com/KamloopsArtsGallery - image credit)
The Kamloops Arts Council presented the installation, Luminocity in 2016. A group called Keep Kamloops fears local arts and recreation non-profits will go dark in a second year of the pandemic. (Facebook.com/KamloopsArtsGallery - image credit)

A Kamloops group dedicated to helping culture, recreation, and heritage organizations survive the pandemic is issuing dire warnings about the future of B.C.'s non-profit organizations.

Keep Kamloops is a group of volunteers working to amplify the stories of non-profit groups that are struggling due to COVID-19, with the hope of keeping their city's arts, sports, and heritage groups thriving in a post-pandemic world.

"Organizations have been deeply impacted," J.P. Baker, of Keep Kamloops, told CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

"They rely on revenue from programs and events, earned income, and individual donations, and all of those sources of revenue have been deeply impacted during the pandemic."

A survey of 930 non-profit groups in B.C. found 48 per cent expect to shut down if the current situation continues, and 71 per cent are expecting a budget shortfall this year.

The authors say fewer than four per cent of the province's non-profit groups were surveyed, and conclusions can't be generalized across the spectrum of B.C.'s diverse non-profit sector.

The report — released in February and conducted by the non-profit leadership group, Vantage Point, along with the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation, and Victoria Foundation — presented a bleak outlook.

Independent filmmakers set up a scene for Outrunners in downtown Kamloops in 2020.
Independent filmmakers set up a scene for Outrunners in downtown Kamloops in 2020.(Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

"COVID stopped the momentum we had generated in our programs/services/activities, leaving us wondering if we will get back to pick up where we were, or need to start at the beginning again," the report's authors wrote.

It follows up on a survey released in May 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic.

Baker says pandemic restrictions have impacted volunteerism. Many of the smaller organizations don't have the time or resources to complete applications for support or funding that may be available.

The Kamloops Sports Council is one of the groups that has benefited from Keep Kamloops's campaign to highlight local organizations.

"The publicity we've received, has been outstanding," said Kamloops Sports Council executive director Duncan Olthuis in a press release. "[We've] always been in the background of many events; it's great to have our organization out in the public eye."

Baker is urging governments to prepare post-pandemic plans for non-profits, and is urging people to get more involved in community groups.

"We're asking people to become a donor for the organizations you value, and spread the word and volunteer if you can."