A Canada Council for the Arts program called the Arts and Culture Welcome Refugees has begun to pick up the cost of tickets so Syrian refugees can be introduced to Canadian culture through instrumental and choral music, visual arts, drama, dance and more.

For sponsoring groups who are already responsible for raising funds to feed, clothe, house and equip refugee families for a year, according to their commitment to the government, this assistance is good news.

“Welcoming refugees to Canada calls for more than simply feeding and housing them — we have to help them become familiar with the community and the culture so they will feel comfortable and safe,” says Dave Toycen, a member of the congregation and the refugee sponsorship group at Trinity Church Streetsville, in Mississauga, Ont. “Our church has been working hard for months to raise money to sponsor a Syrian refugee family, and it will take all we can raise to look after their physical needs. It will be great to have the support from the Canada Council to help welcome them in that deeper sense.”

Organizations such as symphony orchestras, art galleries, choirs, theatre companies and dance troupes that currently get operating funding from the Canada Council are eligible to participate; check directly with arts groups in your city to find out whether they’ve applied for this program and how your sponsored family can benefit.

The one-year program is funded in part by Sun Life Financial, through its national Making the Arts More Accessible™ program, which enables Canadians to celebrate and enjoy arts and culture in their communities regardless of their financial means.

“We believe that integrating into a new land includes getting to know local people and culture, and that cultural spaces are an ideal place to do both,” says Isabelle Hudon, Executive Chair, Quebec and Senior Vice-President, Client Solutions at Sun Life.

“We know the welcome and integration of refugees is a highly complex and multifaceted process, and this initiative is one modest piece of much broader collective and national efforts,” says Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. “We also know that arts and culture can be a refuge, a celebration of diversity and a source of inspiration and connection. Our message on behalf of the arts community to newcomers is, ‘Welcome, we are so happy to have you in our communities, we welcome you to our spaces, performances and events when you are ready.’”