According to a report from Canadian Press and 680 News, Ontario’s Culture Minister, Michael Chan, announced Wed. March 26 that the government has found another program that will provide the $75,000 the Beaches International Jazz Festival lost out on when its application for an annual grant from the Celebrate Ontario program was denied last week.
Festival founder and director Lido Chilleli had warned that without the CO grant or alternative funding in place by the end of this month, the festival would be forced to cancel musician contracts that would lead to three of the four stages on which it normally runs programming being scrapped.
The festival had actually applied for an increase in the $75,000 grant it has received from the program for the past seven years up to $130,000 this year. Its application was turned down with no explanation as to why, according to organizers of the festival.
Chan and premier Kathleen Wynne had been under mounting pressure to reverse the decision of the CO program from opposition MPPs such as Michael Prue (Beaches-East York) and from community leaders in the city as well as an internet petition. The ten-day event, which celebrated 25 years in 2013, attracts millions of tourist dollars to the Toronto and Ontario economies and is a major source of income for many Jazz musicians who struggle to get by in an entertainment industry that generally marginalizes them.
But according to the March 26 news report, Chan has now issued a statement saying that the $75,000 the festival has received in past years will be awarded to the festival by the Ontario Music Fund, to which the fest had also applied for funding.
However festival artistic director Bill King made it clear yesterday that the new grant may not be a full solution to the problem.
“We were told we will receive a grant of $75,000 from Ontario Music Fund with conditions of which we don’t know. We applied for $185,000. This is not a restoration of Celebrate Ontario grant. Events work on a variety of grants and sponsorships,” he said in a statement posted on his personal Facebook page.
“We will also be interested in reviewing the amounts and placements of all grants awarded,” he concluded, somewhat cryptically.