Charlottetown's Confederation Centre of the Arts is looking to hold on to a $240,000 grant it was awarded for the 2014 season even though it has cancelled a major part of the project.
PEI 2014, the group organizing celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference that led to Confederation, says it awarded Confederation Centre money for the summer festival next year. Part of it was earmarked for a new, locally-written production called 1864: The Musical.
The show was supposed to be part of the 2014 celebrations next summer, but the centre has now shelved that play. It still, however, wants all the money.
The centre had a contract with local writers Perry Williams and Peter Bevan-Baker to create the show, but last week, when the centre unveiled its upcoming season, CEO Jessie Inman did not announce 1864: The Musical as part of the lineup.
"We had been working towards that and we wanted to continue to work towards it," said Inman, "but I just cannot put us in a position of looking at a deficit in the future, so we're not able to do it."
Inman said it takes about $1 million to mount a large-scale musical like this.
'It would be unethical for them to take that money.' - Perry Williams
First-time playwright Perry Williams says he found out his show was cancelled two weeks ago.
"I wouldn't say shocked. It was almost we were numb," said Williams.
"We walked in there thinking I don't know why she's calling us in. Once this comes out, 'We don't have any money so we're not going to do your show,' we said, 'Well what's going to happen to that grant?'"
Confederation Centre says it applied for $500,000 for two shows - 1864 and Canada Rocks! - half for each show.
PEI 2014 agreed to $240,000. It says that's the total for both shows.
The Confederation Centre has asked PEI 2014 if it can use all of that money for Canada Rocks! Williams believes that would be wrong.
"It would be unethical for them to take that money for a project they have decided to cancel," he said.
Penny Walsh McGuire, executive director of PEI 2014, said the grant would be reviewed.
"We do have a clause within all the agreements with our fund recipients that should something change, such as the programming, the dates, something of significance, that we would need to know, be notified formally," said Walsh McGuire
"That will go before our board. So, we will be doing that."
Walsh McGuire said the review will take place over the next few weeks.
For mobile device users: Should the Confederation Centre keep its 2014 grant?