Ottawa Tourism offers one-time ‘emergency’ funding for major festivals


As festivals and events in the city continue to recover from the pandemic, Ottawa Tourism has announced it will provide one-time emergency financial support.

With the support of the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Festival Network, Ottawa Tourism said Friday that it aims to fill the funding gap left by “significantly lower-than-anticipated funding amounts announced as part of Experience Ontario,” the annual provincial festival funding program.

Ottawa Tourism said it will support marquee festivals in the city with a proven track record of bolstering local tourism.

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“Tourism improves the quality of life of the whole community,” Michael Crockatt, president and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, said in a news release. “In our recently released Destination Stewardship Plan, we stated our support for major festivals and their ability to have significant community impact. This is exactly what our emergency funding support for marquee festivals aims to accomplish.”

The objective, according to Ottawa Tourism, is to “fill the funding gap” and ensure eligible Ottawa festival organizers don’t suffer financial losses that may put their festivals’ existence at risk.

A study conducted by the Ottawa Festival Network in 2019 found that festivals accounted for more than $222.6 million total spending, generated by just 37 annual events.

“Festivals across the province were hit extremely hard by the pandemic and most are still recovering from it – Ottawa is no exception,” said Lee Dunbar, interim executive director of the Ottawa Festival Network. “We’ve seen time and time again that festivals are important and we need to protect that part of Ottawa’s identity.”

A spokesperson for Ottawa Tourism said an eligible marquee event is defined as a “high-impact, unique experience unlike any other in the City of Ottawa or the region who have high operating expenses.”

Ottawa Tourism will also verify that the applicant generates significant economic impact, he added, and take into consideration the applicant’s production of large-scale events, their audience, and their marketing strategy when determining eligibility.

“Ottawa is known as a festival destination, not only by attendees, but by artists, vendors and organizers alike,” said Mayor Mark Sutcliffe in the release. “This funding initiative is a commitment to making Ottawa a more accessible hub for marquee festivals.”

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