Province gives city’s festivals a $2.2 million boost

The new chair of Ottawa Festivals said he hopes more than $2 million in provincial funding for 25 local festivals announced Thursday will help spark investment from other levels of government.


“We do hope it’s the start of a real transformation in the way all government looks at festivals. It’s a generator. We’re not taking, we’re giving,” Sean Wilson said after Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi made the announcement at Festival House in Westboro.
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“You’re getting new dollars coming into our community,” Mr. Naqvi said. “Restaurants love you. Shopping loves you. This is an economic plan. This is very much not only for promoting, arts, culture and festivals but also boosting our economy.”

Mr. Wilson, who is also artistic director of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, said the Celebrate Ontario program providing the funding is the only one he knows of that’s been introduced in the last 10 years that says “we have to recognize this important industry, we’ve got to support the knowledge economy, support quality of life, support good jobs and celebrate community.”

Mr. Wilson said investing in festivals is a wise move for any government that wants to promote a jobs agenda.

“For every dollar we get from the province of Ontario, our individual members turn that into anywhere from $9 to $15 for the economy, so from my point of view, that’s a return on the investment that’s amazing,” he said.

While Mr. Wilson called Thursday’s announcement a “real good news story for Ottawa,” he pointed at the city’s arts investment strategy as an area that needs work.

“There are serious issues with municipal support,” he said. “The arts investment strategy which was to get us to average levels of support municipally, a six-year plan to get to average, that has not been funded in a couple years so there is a big fight to get that back on track.”

Mr. Wilson said 400 community members were part of a year-long consultation process that was unanimously approved by the previous city council. He said with two years left, the strategy is about $4 million under its target, but he is hopeful the city will recognize that it must invest in more than just Ottawa 2017 celebrations.

“You also have to strengthen and support the festivals and events that have been here for many, many years and will be here long after this anniversary year is over.”

Ottawa Tourism CEO Michael Crockatt, who also chairs the board at the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, said it was “fantastic” to see local festivals get funding, adding the chamber works with the city on a number of initiatives to help businesses grow.

“Anything that can be demonstrated to be on the side of business growth and sustainability is a great thing,” he said.

Ottawa Festivals receiving provincial funding from the Celebrate Ottawa program:

Glowfair – $46,050

Ontario Festival of Small Halls 2016 – $38,908

Ottawa International Writers Festival – $56,864

2016 Eat, Drink, Spring – $48,612

2017 Cracking-up the Capital Comedy Festival – $54,856

Chamberfest – $227,584

Ottawa International Children’s Festival – $104,907

2016 CityFolk – $296,662

TD Ottawa Jazz Festival – $287,407

Canadian Tulip Festival – $146,600

Buskerfest – $11,250

Summer Solstice Aboriginal Festival – $22,500

Ottawa Capital Pride Festival – $22,500

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend – $33,300

The Great Canada 150th Hogmanay Festival – $45,000

Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival – $96,650

RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest – $315,100

“The World in One City” Muslim Summer Festival – $18,000

Carivibe Festival – $1,220

Ottawa Craft Beer Festival – $24,764

Music and Beyond 2016 Festival – $105,700

Festival Franco-Ontarien – $90,000

The Capital Fair Pow Wow – $5,050

Haunting Season at Saunders Farm – $81,905

Oktoberfest Ottawa – $600

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