February 26th, 2024

City eyes ways to add more money for festivals

By COLLIN GALLANT on December 21, 2023.

Canada Day fireworks in Kin Coulee Park are visible from the Southeast Hill in this 2015 file photo.--NEWS FILE PHOTO

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

City Hall may consider in the new year putting more money toward helping out annual festivals, like Canada Day and Spectrum, within a current framework for funding that requires any group requesting funds to reapply for grants.

Such requests are handled and awarded by the Community Vibrancy Community, which pooled money from several programs during the COVID pandemic for festivals.

New awards for 2024 were presented to council Monday night showing new schedule of one- and two-year awards.

Within that is $10,000 for Canada Day fireworks under an envelope to the Medicine Hat Skateboard Association’s annual July 1 Beat the Heat tournament, both for two years.

Spectrum however, was reconsidered for single-year funding because the new two-year system limits the money available in 2025.

“If we want to support those traditional festivals – those that everyone expects – and encourage new festivals to start, we may need to put in more money,” said public services committee chair Coun. Ramona Robins.

She spoke in favour of the new format, but told the News the issue and potential budget amendment could come to her committee soon.

“It helps festivals tremendously as it will give (some applicants) time to get established and seek out other grants to continue funding,” she said. “Its to support new festivals that are popping up, but how do we support the existing Canada Day, which is important to residents?”

Over the years, the city’s philosophy with recurring grants, like those for festivals and for social-service agencies through the Family and Community Services Supports, has been to limit time spans in hopes groups would seek out and secure other funding in the community or sources of income, and therefore rely less on annual municipal grants.

“We’re oversubscribed for the grants and are attempting to ensure we’re meeting the needs of all the community,” said city manager Ann Mitchell. “The pot of money might not be big enough. There’s one-year grants, two-year grants and now legacy festival funding, like Canada Day.”

Public services division head Brian Stauth said, “We want to ensure we have an active Canada Day and will look at all the entries (eligible) for that.”

Several members of council spoke in favour of separate consideration for festivals with widespread appeal, such as Canada Day and Spectrum.

Grant awards

Single year ($11,500 total)

PorchFest 2024 – Local musicians performing on the Southeast Hill with the addition of a grand finale performance at Central Park, $7,000;

Strathcona Art Studios – An outdoor arts and crafts show and sale for groups at the Veiner Centre, $500;

Urban Trees Collective – An interactive projection arts installation, $4,000.

Two-Year Festival Grants ($66,000 total)

Medicine Hat JazzFest – Specifically free daytime outdoor concerts at the Esplanade lawn and shows for elementary school children, $16,000;

Medicine Hat Skateboard Association – Fireworks and July 1 Beat the Heat festival with a focus on families to bring community together and showcase athletic, arts and cultural groups in Medicine Hat, $19,000 total;

Medicine Hat Folk Music Club – Tongue on the Post folk music festival, $13,500;

Willy Taillon – Rise Up Hot Air Balloon Festival, $17,000;

Rotary Club Music Festival Society – Annual fine arts performances and judging, $500.

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