The Ontario government is investing close to $50 million to support 439 festivals and events across Ontario, including funding for four local events in the Thousand Islands region.
The one-time funding for festivals and events in Ontario is through the Reconnect Festival and Events Program, as well as support to events through the Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster Program.
"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," Lisa MacLeod, minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, said in a prepared statement.
The funding will ensure the long-term success of the festival and events sector, as well as helping municipalities and organizations deliver safe and innovative experiences for Ontarians and tourists, officials said.
Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes and minister of municipal affairs and housing, announced that four local events will be receiving a total of $123,100 in funding through the Reconnect Festival and Events Program.
The St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival will be receiving $54,950 of the funding.
Organized by the Kemptville Live Music Festival, the Live at the Library Concert Series will be getting $29, 400 of the funding.
As well, the 1000 Islands Cruise-In and Car Show, organized by Thousand Islands Accommodation Partners will receive a total of $20,500.
The remaining $18,250 will be going to the River of Lights, organized by The City of Brockville.
"Festivals and events like the four local events funded today make important contributions to communities like ours, creating local jobs and boosting the local economy," said Clark.
The Reconnect Festival and Event Program was developed to help festival and event organizers to adapt to new public health measures with safe offerings, whether that is a virtual or drive-through experience.
Festivals and event organizers can use the funding for eligible expenses, such as marketing, website development, programing and production, mobile applications and making sure health and safety measures are put in place to keep the audience safe.
The Blockbuster program supports organizations and municipalities in Ontario that host large-scale and high-impact events that draw in significant tourist attendance. Higher tourist attendance increases tourist spending and also provides significant economic impact for the province.
"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," said MacLeod.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times