Rural communities shouldn’t have to duke it out for their share of very limited grants, argued several Halifax regional councillors Tuesday.
Coun. Sue Uteck said the Summer Festival Grants program needs to be boosted in a big way. It’s a $50,000 program funded through HRM’s operating budget and not hotel levies.
It was created to offset rural communities and keep pace with the growth of funding for Natal Day events in Halifax and Dartmouth. Only it hasn’t.
Automatically, $25,000 of the fund goes to an event in Musquodoboit, Uteck told Metro Tuesday, and the other half is left to be fought over by seven rural councillors.
This year it was decided to evenly split the $25,000 between the seven and give $3,550 each to community groups putting on events in Beaver Bank, Cole Harbour, Fall River, Porters Lake, North Preston, Sambro and Eastern Passage.
“These rural communities are in dire need of funding,” said Coun. Barry Dalrymple, adding some groups need to fundraise 95 per cent of their budget.
Uteck suggested a staff report into boosting the fund to $100,000 and re-examine the criteria for funding. Council agreed.
“It doesn’t matter where you live in HRM, there are a lot of people who want to celebrate their community identity and they deserve to do that,” said Coun. Lorelei Nicoll.
Also Tuesday, council voted to fund fiver major community events – including Nocturne: Art at Night – through an exception clause in the Marketing Levy Special Events Reserve.
Staff are currently reviewing the entire grants program and are coming up with an events strategy.
Nocturne was originally turned down for funding from HRM because they were advised to apply in a non-annual events grant program.
Events receiving funding through an exception in the in the Marketing Levy Special Events Reserve:
Atlantic Fringe Festival: $10,000
Holiday Parade of Lights: $17,040
Multicultural Festival: $15,050
Nocturne: Art at Night: $42,250
Word on the Street: $8,000
Halifax Comedy Fest: $9,750