Arts, culture, and tourism hit hard by COVID-19
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
The arts, culture, and tourism industry in Vancouver may lose three important institutions.
The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Aquarium, and Science World at the Telus World of Science may be forced to closed if they are not allowed to open.
Science World at the Telus World of Science closed its doors on March 13 to enact social distancing measures. Three days later on March 16, the Vancouver Art Gallery announced that it would be closing temporarily, and then a day later the Vancouver Aquarium cancelled all programming and closed its doors to the public.
The aquarium, which is the oldest and largest in Canada, is home to over 70,000 animals, and costs roughly one-million dollars a month to operate. Additionally, the facility does not receive any government funding.
“If nothing is done, it will be two, maximum three months until [we] shut down,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Chief Executive Officer at the Vancouver Aquarium “[but] we can’t switch off the light and lock the door and go home, the animals have to be taken care of. We need the federal and provincial government to help us.”
The aquarium isn’t the only facility that is asking the federal government for help. Science World, which relies on a government wage subsidy to pay employees, similarly claims that after the subsidy ends the facility is three to four months away from insolvency.
While these icons of the Vancouver are closed, the Vancouver Art Gallery has debuted an online gathering called “Art Connects” to link artists with audiences.
To advocate for government relief, Vancouver attractions have formed an umbrella organization called The Metro Vancouver Tourism and Hospitality Industry Response and Recovery Task Force. Via a press release, the role of the group is to urge governments to “…counter the devastating effects COVID-19 and Canada’s response to the pandemic has had on the sector.”
“While many businesses have felt the impact of COVID-19 over the last 30 days, it’s important to remember that the hospitality industry in Metro Vancouver has now suffered through its third month of negative impact,” said Nancy Small, Task Force Co-Chair.