The city is handing out nearly $390,000 in Barrie cultural grants this year.
But Stephannie Schlichter, the city’s economic and creative development director, says the funding is considered an investment.
“The City of Barrie’s cultural grants program supports professional, youth and community arts organizations as they seek to leverage other revenue sources, as well as to provide seed funding for new ideas,” she said. “The program offers both project specific and overall operations streams.
“Eligible activities and expenses can include professional salaries, costuming, artist fees, marketing, equipment or facility rentals, insurance and more,” Schlichter added.
Last year, the city dispersed almost $340,000 in funding through the cultural grants program, enabling recipients to leverage additional funding from provincial and federal programs, as well as private- and corporate-sector sponsorships. This resulted in $110,000 in sponsorship revenue, $2 million in public-sector funding and $3.36 million in earned revenue, according to city staff.
The total leveraged funding represents a 1,010 per cent return on investment for the city’s cultural grant funding, according to city staff, resulting in continued operations for these organizations despite limited opportunities to deliver on planned activities.
For 2021, the approved cultural grants budget was $389,785, which included a one-time $50,000 increase to the funding program. There were 24 applications received, requesting a total of $539,200 in funding. One application was withdrawn and 22 were successful.
This year’s funding will continue to support these organizations’ operations through the pandemic, giving them the ability to present work in a safe manner if and when possible. For those organizations unable to return to programming in 2021, the funding will support their efforts to maintain organizational processes until regular programming is possible.
The city hands out cultural funding in two categories — operating and projects.
The MacLaren Art Centre received the most operating funding this year, $142,000, followed by Talk Is Free Theatre at $70,000, Barrie Film Festival at $38,000, Theatre by the Bay at $30,000, Huronia Symphony at $20,000, Simcoe Contemporary Dancers at $19,500, Ontario Musicians Co-operative at $10,435, Kempenfelt Community Players at $6,000, and Barrie Concert Band at $4,350.
Projects receiving funding are La Cle de la Baie, Ontario Musicians Co-operative and Simcoe Contemporary Dancers, each getting $5,000, Bravado Show Choir, Caring Concerts, Word Up! and King Edward Choir at $4,500, Central Ontario Music Council at $3,500, Huronia Symphony Orchestra at $ 3,000, Theatre by the Bay and Kempenfelt Community Players at $2,000, and Skyliners Youth Big Band at $1,000.
Organizations seeking less than $50,000 in operating funds may also apply for project grants for as much as $5,000.
The cultural grants program was designed to create fair and equitable opportunity for all arts organizations in Barrie, so they could access public funds designated as part of the city’s investment in the local culture sector.