The CEO of the Confederation Centre of the Arts is confident a quality production of Canada Rocks can still be launched, even with a reduced grant from PEI 2014.
This week, the board of directors of PEI 2014 — the group organizing celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference that led to Canada's Confederation — approved a $100,000 grant to the Confederation Centre.
'We will do everything to work within the budget we have to put on an outstanding performance of Canada Rocks.' - Jessie Inman, CEO of the Confederation Centre
This was revised from a much larger grant of $240,000 announced by PEI 2014 in May for two Charlottetown Festival productions — 1864: The Musical, a new, locally-written show based around the events of the Charlottetown Conference, and a re-staging of the musical revue Canada Rocks, originally produced in 2005.
But a few weeks ago, the Confederation Centre said it couldn't afford to produce 1864.
On Thursday, the PEI 2014 committee said it has decided to reduce the amount of the original grant to $100,000.
"Well it is unfortunate our grant was cut. But we completely understand where PEI 2014 ... why they would have made that decision, and the centre fully respects it," said Jessie Inman, CEO of the Confederation Centre.
"We will do everything to work within the budget we have to put on an outstanding performance of Canada Rocks. And I'm sure we will be able to do that."
Money to remain in 2014 operating budget
Inman said it's too soon to say if Canada Rocks will have to be scaled back in some way to make up for the difference in funding.
The rest of the money will stay in the PEI 2014 operating budget and won't be given out in grants to other organizations, said Penny Walsh McGuire, PEI 2014 executive director.
"The decision was made by the board, looking at the costs associated with producing a new musical versus revamping or enhancing an existing one, that the contribution which was fair and equitable would be $100,000, versus the $240,000 which was in the original contribution agreement," said McGuire.
One of the authors of 1864, Perry Williams, said he's relieved the Confederation Centre won't get the entire grant. He had previously told the CBC it would have been unethical for the centre to keep all that money after cancelling the show.
The Confederation Centre had originally applied for two grants worth $250,000 each, one for each of the two shows.
Canada Rocks application received notice of rejection--PEI 2014
Walsh McGuire says all 550 plus applications received either a generic acceptance or rejection letter.
"The Confederation Centre received an acceptance letter for the 1864 - The Musical application at $240,000 and a rejection letter for the Canada Rocks application which was for $250,000," said Walsh McGuire Friday afternoon in an email to the CBC.
"The board of directors supported both productions under one contribution agreement for $240,000 as they both ranked very high in the jury process. The Board encouraged us to negotiate both productions under one contributions agreement with the Confederation Centre in an effort to maximize the value of the investment."
A press release issued by the PEI government in May announced $240,000 from the PEI 2014 Fund had been awarded to the Confederation Centre and said "In 2014, the Charlottetown Festival will celebrate the sesquicentennial of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference with a new, locally written theatrical production." There was no mention of funding for Canada Rocks.
But a contribution agreement between PEI 2014 and the Confederation Centre dated September 3 says the money is to be used to support both productions.
The situation has caught the attention of P.E.I.'s public accounts committee.
On Thursday, CBC News received confirmation that Walsh McGuire will appear before the committee at the end of the month to answer questions about the 2014 grant process.