Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker has announced that two local festivals will receive a combined $37,685 in funding from the provincial government.
The Ontario government is investing nearly $50 million to support 439 festivals and events across Ontario through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program, as well as support to events through the Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster Program.
This one-time funding increase for festivals and events – more than double the annual funding provided to the sector in the past – will ensure the long-term success of the festival and event sector while helping municipalities and organizations deliver innovative and safe experiences, whether virtually or in-person, that allow people to safely reconnect with their communities.
The Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster program supports municipalities and organizations in Ontario that host large-scale, high-impact signature events that draw significant tourist attendance and increase tourist spending, increase Ontario’s profile through media and broadcast exposure and provide significant economic impact and legacy development for the province.
Walker announced that the following local events are receiving funding support through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program:
· City of Owen Sound – Music at the Market – $10,000
· Paisley Blues Festival – Summer Series of Live Music – $27,685
The Reconnect Festival and Event Program was developed to help festival and event organizers adapt to new public health measures with virtual, drive-through and other safe offerings. The program directs support to events with innovative and safe experiences, while creating opportunities that encourage Ontarians to reconnect with the beauty and diversity of their communities in new ways.
“Festivals and events like the Paisley Blues Festival and Music at the Market make important contributions to our communities creating local jobs and boosting the local economy,” said Walker. “I’m pleased the government is making this important investment through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program, giving us all the opportunity to experience what Ontario has to offer right in our own backyard.”
“For more than a year, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted tourism and culture – two major industries that bring people together and our communities to life,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “Increasing our annual support for festivals and events will give the sector a much-needed boost as we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19. Our government is supporting organizations that are finding new ways to safely engage and reconnect Ontarians with their local communities while creating local jobs.”
Tourism is a key economic driver in Ontario – in 2018, the tourism industry supported more than 390,000 jobs and generated over $36 billion of economic activity for the province.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, every $1 of provincial funding invested through Celebrate Ontario (the model for the Reconnect program) resulted in almost $21 of visitor spending. The impact of the 2021/22 Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster and Reconnect Festival and Event Program investment is estimated to generate over $1 billion in economic benefit across the province.
As announced in the 2021 Budget, Ontario is investing more than $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support tourism, culture, sport and recreation sectors. This builds on investments of $225 million announced earlier, bringing the total support for these sectors to more than $625 million since the pandemic began.