While it may not replace the funds cascading from arts organizations’ ledgers, a sum equal to one full-time annual salary will be spent on pumping winter arts events this year.
A portion of the Olympic legacy money was set aside by the provincial government to fund Spirit Festivals in towns and cities where the arts community could win a slice of the pie.
The Okanagan has secured a $50,000 pot, divided to help the organizations who made the pitch bolster existing events.
“The funding that we provided the groups involved was to help support the organizations to ensure their events would go forward,” said Elke Lange, Arts Council of the Central Okanagan, noting the money is going to organizations facing unusually tight budgets.
To the average person, the February Spirit Festival is not likely to appear like an event so much as a marketing campaign.
The arts council’s website now has a lengthy tour of “what’s on” in the Okanagan this month, including everything from ballet performances, to a youth symphony event, to artists talks. And there is advertising around town directing residents to check it out.
But for Janet Anderson, who runs the Lake Country Art Gallery, the funding has given her an otherwise nonexistent bankroll. It’s meant her gallery can actually pay some of the speakers she will host in the gallery this month and, she pointed out, it will be nice to see the First Nations artists she’s hosting get some financial support.
“It’s a step in the right direction. We might have done some of these (talks) anyway, but normally we wouldn’t be able to give them the honorarium,” she said.
The gallery was one of the 13 organizations who made the application to get the grant dollars, as was this weekend’s Ecotone Festival—likely the largest draw on the list by crowd size.
Organizer Gabe Cipes said the festival is hoping to draw 1000 people. Ecotone ran just fine on it’s own steam, he said, but the money will be useful. The funding has helped his crew improve the bands on the bill, which should draw more people to the event as a whole.
Owing to its grassroots style, he figures Ecotone’s involvement in the grant application likely helped the Okanagan secure more money.
Ryan Donn, meanwhile, said his new event, Global Music Fest, will get a marketing boost from the concept, not funds.
The money for Global Music Fest comes from a federal pot intended to support Global Citizen Week events, but he’s been able to slide the event onto the advertising for the Spirit Festival too.
This is what the Spirit Festival funds will likely mean for the bulk of the arts community this year as only a select few were able to tap into the $50,000.
“It’s basically an encouragement for the public to get out and experience what’s going on in the arts community,” Lange explained.
There is no printed schedule of events, but passports will be handed out at engagements.
An online events listing has been assembled on the Arts’ Council website (www.artsco.ca) using a portion of the administrative costs chunked out of the $50,000 budget.
Roughly $40,000 was divided up between the organizations—$4,000 went to advertising and $6,000 to administration.
“I think what’s important to realize was that the creation of the Spirit Festival is part of the legacy of the Olympics,” Lange said. “During the Winter Olympics the arts were celebrated in a big way.”
In 2010 many stalwarts of the local arts scene, like the Okanagan Symphony and Alternator Gallery, also experienced drastic funding cuts as standard grants from lottery earnings failed to materialize.
The Spirit Festival appeared a small stipend compared to the funds lost.
Passport can be found at the Rotary Centre for the Arts building.