Manitoba's Premier says the arts are an important industry and is glad to make his latest funding announcement.

Reminiscing over his own childhood piano performances in Portage la Prairie's annual festival, Premier Brian Pallister announced funding towards arts programs.

"Manitoba's arts and cultural sector has been drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health restrictions that are necessary to protect Manitobans have very, very significantly limited the ability of this sector to do what it does best: bring people together to enjoy a shared experience."

This comes three days after he and Dr. Brent Roussin announced concert halls and theatres were to remain closed. Pallister says these sectors are "the first to close and the last to open" making them in need of sustainable funding.

The province is pledging $6 million to be distributed to the art and culture sector by the Manitoba Arts Council and Manitoba Film and Music under the new Arts and Culture Sustainability Funds.

“The importance of arts and culture has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic yet the arts and cultural sector has been devastated by the profound disruption in its core work – bringing people together. We thank the government for this critical support towards the sector’s recovery," Randy Joynt, the executive director of Manitoba Arts Council.

The funds are to support professional artists, including the music industry. Museums, cultural facilities, book publishing and more are eligible for this funding. Pallister says they are eligible regardless of if they have taken any previous relief programs.

The funds are being distributed on a most-needed basis.

"In other words, we are going to try to help those who are most in need," Pallister says.

The premier says the arts contribute to the growth of Manitoba's economy and is a benefit to mental health.

"We all look forward to the day when we can all safely get back together with friends, with family, and take in a concert, take in a play, festival, community fair."

He says while the funds will not make up for pandemic hardships, he hopes the funding helps.