Northern tourism venues aim to thrive with less funding
Government funding is important, but officials look to other ways to bring in dollars
While a deal that would spell the end to the Shania Twain Centre is currently being finalized, other northern Ontario tourist attractions say they are also facing tough times.
But even though Timmins has chosen to sell its money-losing attraction to a neighbouring gold mine, other communites say they can keep their tourism hot sports going with the help of public money.
For example, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie set records for attendance this past year.
"Financially, we're in better shape now than ever," said executive director Mike Delfre.
But he admitted the centre would have been in the red had it not been for emergency top-up money from the city of Sault Ste. Marie.
Delfre said the centre is hoping to stay afloat by hosting a variety of events, including beer festivals and fitness classes.
But he said museums also play an educational role similar to libraries and schools.
"So because of that existing for the public good, the government has a role to play," Delfre added.
Fight harder for funding
Science North in Sudbury receives almost $7 million every year from the province.
To survive Northern attractions have to be careful to spend those taxdollars wisely and not think too big, said CEO Guy Labine.
"You need to also be realistic that we don't have 15 million visitors coming to northern Ontario for cultural or tourism visits," he said.
As governments become more and more cost conscious in the coming years, cultural industries will have to fight harder and harder for funding, Labine added.
And they’ll also have to be more creative when it comes to running their operations.
Labine noted that, thanks to the broadening out of the science centre's business, tax dollars now make up only 20 per cent of the budget, where it used to be 80 per cent.
"That's why change and renewal is so important," he said.
"And that's expensive. It requires energy, it requires funding and it requires an organization that can deliver."