WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government is providing financial support to the province's art and culture sector as it has been hit hard by COVID-19.

The province is investing $6 million to create a new Arts and Culture Sustainability Funds.

This money will be handled and administered by the Manitoba Arts Council and Manitoba Film and Music.

"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," said Randy Joynt, the executive director of the Manitoba Arts Council, in a news release.

Everything from museums and galleries to artists and musical groups are eligible for the financial support even if they have already received other provincial or federal funding.

The eligibility criteria are available through the Manitoba Arts Council and Manitoba Film and Music.

"We are thrilled the government of Manitoba recognizes the cultural and economic importance of this industry," said Rachel Rusen, the CEO and film commissioner for Manitoba Film and Music, in a news release.

Premier Brian Pallister said over the last year, Manitobans have missed out on several events because of the pandemic.

"Instead of being united in the celebration for our 150th anniversary, we were being safe apart. And we were united and nevertheless in the fight against COVID," said Pallister. "This is an industry that's been affected more than most, and often described actually as the first to close and the last to open."

The premier said this new investment is designed to help the people that need it most.

"Manitoba's arts and culture organizations play a tremendously significant role in the health and well-being of Manitobans and their communities they have throughout our history. They will continue to and our hope is that will contribute to the growth of our economy and fostering the development of tomorrow's creative minds."