Edmonton’s non-profit sector is gearing up for a busy fall to meet the needs of the community and to produce creative works that lift everyone’s spirits. EPCOR’s Heart + Soul Fund is also back to provide support, with an additional $160,000 in funding for 9 arts, cultural and charitable organizations. This is on top of the $360,000 already announced for 22 organizations in June.
“Edmonton charities are tackling difficult social issues — from abuse to poverty and homelessness to food insecurity,” says Stuart Lee, EPCOR President and CEO. “We felt strongly about releasing these additional funds to help charities continue this important work.”
One of the most troubling issues to emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic was the uptick in domestic violence and particularly violence against women and girls. The United Nations has called this alarming trend the “Shadow Pandemic.”
WINGS of Providence, an Edmonton charity that supports women and children escaping domestic violence, launches its second annual WINGMAN campaign in September. The campaign will feature high-profile Edmonton men taking a stand against domestic violence, with EPCOR matching donations towards counselling, childcare, life-skills sessions and nutritious meals.
“Healthy male role models speaking out against domestic violence and demonstrating a commitment to non-violence is powerful,” says Kathy Collins, Executive Director of WINGS of Providence. “Men are primary partners in addressing domestic violence and ensuring prevention efforts are inclusive and meaningful.”
Just as charities help to ensure our city remains supported, strong and vibrant, Edmonton’s arts and cultural groups are hard at work to make our days lighter and brighter. One of the arts programs EPCOR will support this year is the Nextfest Arts Company’s Emerging Artistic Producer Program, which will give hands-on arts administration experience to Indigenous, Black and people of colour who identify as transgender and/or non-binary.
“Less than 4 per cent of leaders in Canadian theatre identify as culturally diverse women, trans and/or non-binary people,” says program producer Simone A. Medina Polo. “The Emerging Artistic Producer Program will help budding leaders from these communities to overcome the financial and social barriers they can encounter early in their careers.”
This marks the third year for the Heart + Soul Fund, which EPCOR created in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to support organizations that provide a lifeline to our communities’ most vulnerable, as well as those that uplift our spirits and bring us so much joy.
Since 2020, EPCOR has committed $3.5 million in pandemic relief and recovery funding, which is in addition to the more than $1 million it provides in community support every year.
Additionally, 160 grants have been provided through the Heart + Soul Fund. The charity sector has leveraged $814,000 provided through the Heart + Soul Fund by hosting matching campaigns, which resulted in nearly $5.1 million raised in support of critical social services.
Funding provided to arts and culture organizations helped employ 1,120 artists and produce 628 new artistic works safely amid pandemic restrictions, bringing joy and entertainment to our community.