A quarter of B.C. not-for-profit groups say they won't last 6 months - InfoNews

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A quarter of B.C. not-for-profit groups say they won't last 6 months

Image Credit: Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival
May 19, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Almost a quarter of not-for-profit organizations say they don't think they can stay open longer than six months in the current conditions.

A survey commissioned by Vantage Point, the Vancouver Foundation, and the City of Vancouver found that 23 per cent of not-for-profit groups surveyed didn't expect they would survive. Of the more than 1,100 B.C. organizations surveyed, 19 per cent had already shut down and three quarters had seen a drop in revenue from fundraising.

Along with traditional charities which have seen a drop in fundraising as needs increase, half of those surveyed were from social services and arts and cultural groups.

With almost everything this summer cancelled, the arts and cultural groups which organize many popular summertime events are seeing their prime fundraising season eradicated.

"We're a program and events space organization, so this has really been devastating for us," Caetani Centre executive director Susan Brandoli told iNFOnews.ca.

Brandoli said the Vernon arts centre ordinarily generates income and fundraisers throughout the summer, and the cash then carries them through to June the following year. With all events and programs cancelled, the centre, which normally employs three part-time staff and is down to one, is making as many cutbacks as possible.

"We're being very careful, we're being very frugal," she said.

If fundraising is a fraction of what the arts centre would normally generate, the effects will be felt towards the end of the year and beyond.

The Salmon Arm Root and Blues Festival usually draws 28,000 people to the Shuswap town generating $5 million in the community.

And while the economic consequences will be felt immediately by those directly and indirectly involved, the not-for-profit group that runs the festival won't feel the real pinch until later.

Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival organizer David Gonella said each year's festival pays for the festival the following year.

"(Next year) is going to be a real make-it-or-break-it year for the entire cultural scene," Gonella said. "If we have another disruptive year, we could see 90 per cent of these events disappearing."

He said they have funds until the end of October and will keep its five full-time staff employed.

Gonella said the organization is in the discovery process of planning an online program this year which is still in its early stages and is now working towards next year.

"All of our chips are in for 2021," he said.

Brandoli said the arts centre is in the process of moving things online as well, but most people don't want to pay for online content. She said the uncertainty of the situation also makes it difficult to plan for the future.

The centre may have to revert to being 100 per cent volunteer-run and scale back, but regardless Brandoli is optimistic the Caetani Centre will still remain.

"The story is not going to disappear... it's just going to take a lot more work and a lot more creative solutions," she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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