VICTORIA -- The B.C. government is launching a new $3 million "Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement" for people in the arts industry who are unable to work due to COVID-19.

"COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing has had a significant impact on everyone, including those in the arts sector,” said Lisa Beare, minister of tourism, arts and culture.

“Arts organizations right away responded to the orders, direction and recommendations from the provincial health officer, showing great leadership by cancelling events, performances and festivals to protect people's health. We understand this has had a significant impact on artists, their families and arts organizations.”

The $3 million plan will allow currently operating and eligible clients to receive a $15,000 supplement in early April.

Meanwhile, the BC Arts Council is offering to provide operating clients with a 50 per cent advance on funding for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The arts council is also extending all application deadlines, and relaxing its reporting requirements so that workers in the industry can access funding to meet their immediate needs, like rent and groceries.

"This is a first, but very necessary, step,” said Beare.

“These measures are what we can do right away within the existing BC Arts Council budget to help arts organizations during the pandemic. We will have more to announce regarding additional supports for the sector in the weeks ahead."

Beare adds that arts industry workers who have been affected by COVID-19 can still apply for the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers fund to receive a one-time $1,000 payment.