‘Ottawa’ Ottawa Festival Community Reaps $4 million Provincial Windfall
Ottawa’s festival community is heaping praise on the province after reaping an “unprecedented” $4.1 million windfall for 38 regional festivals and events, unveiled in an investment announcement Thursday.
“The bottom line is the province is really investing in festivals and events, because they’ve identified this as a huge growth sector,” said Mark Monahan, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest executive director and chair of the Major International Festivals and Events Network of Ontario.
The Ontario Festival Network said the investment, by the province’s own estimation, will create about $82 million in visitor spending in the nation’s capital. The increase is a dramatic one from 2016 funding levels, when the province committed $2.2 million to local festivals.
Monahan wrote a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne in February asking for a share of provincial funding, at a time when some of his counterparts with other local festivals were locked in a war of words with Mayor Jim Watson over the city’s festival funding commitments for 2017, with Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations in the works.
Sean Wilson, OFN president and Ottawa International Writers Festival artistic director, called it an “amazing story for Ottawa in this very special year. … The province has essentially doubled their investment in our community.”
Wilson said the festival community sees the investment as “a clear sign that (the province) understands the important role our industry plays for Ontario and our city.
“This investment empowers us to enhance our programming to draw more tourists, create more jobs and more significantly impact our community’s economy and quality of life.”
Wilson encouraged other levels of government “to follow Ontario’s lead” to invest in the city’s festivals, special events and fairs.
Monahan said Bluesfest and other beneficiaries are able to leverage the provincial dollars directly into programming, saying Bluesfest “ramped up the programming this year in anticipation we would get funding.”
The festival recently unveiled its lineup for the 10-day summer celebration — the largest of its kind in the province — featuring headliners Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, P!nk and Muse.
Monahan called the investment “a shot in the arm” for smaller festivals as well.
“It gives these festivals and events a chance to go out there and make an impact,” said Monahan. “It allows you to go and take a chance on the programing side and attract new fans and grow the festival.”