Province restores funding to Ottawa’s JazzFest, Tulip Festival, other events

JazzFest
TD Ottawa JazzFest this past June. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The show will go on for TD Ottawa JazzFest, the Canadian Tulip Festival and a number of other local events following the Ontario government’s reversal on funding cuts affecting many of the province’s festivals.

Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, the newly minted minister of tourism, culture and sport, announced Thursday night she has reversed the provincial government’s planned cuts to cultural funding in the province, a move that would’ve affected more than a dozen local events that rely on the Celebrate Ontario grant.

Among those festivals with funding restored is the TD Ottawa JazzFest, which was told three weeks before its event last month that it would not receive its annual grant of $290,000 from the province this year. JazzFest will instead receive $250,000, with a total of $792,000 divided between a dozen other local events, according to media reports.

TD Ottawa JazzFest confirmed its funding had been restored via Twitter.

The loss of its annual provincial grant would’ve represented seven per cent of the festival’s $4 million budget.

“To not get the funding this year was really unbelievable for us,” JazzFest executive producer Catherine O’Grady told OBJ.social at the event last month. “We had no indication that the money would not be forthcoming."

In response to the cuts, additional businesses signed on as sponsors and supporters collectively opened up their chequebooks to the tune of roughly $10,000 in hopes of ensuring the show would go on.

Grant Hooker, the chair of the Canadian Tulip Festival, told OBJ MacLeod’s office confirmed last Saturday the long-running spring celebration would be receiving $69,000 from the province. Hooker said he was “filled with gratitude and relief” when he heard funding had been restored.

“We were counting on that money,” he said.

For the past several years, he said, the festival has received $100,000 annually from the province, meaning there’s still a shortfall to make up.

To help raise funds, the festival is selling off 118 of the 1.5-metre-tall fibreglass and plaster tulip sculptures it displays around the city for $199 “or best offer,” Hooker said. The sale will take place Saturday just south of Highway 417 near the intersection of Boundary and Indcum roads.

Hooker noted the annual celebration of all things tulips, which drew an estimated 700,000 visitors this year, isn’t a “beer and music festival.” He said the tulip festival is not allowed to charge admission or sell alcohol, which makes raising revenue a challenge.

– With files from Craig Lord and David Sali