London

Province funds cultural events hobbled by COVID-19

The province has announced nearly $500,000 in aid for cultural events and venues in London that have been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Western Fair and Rock the Park are among the London venues sharing nearly $500,000 in assistance

Posters outside of the Grand Theatre in downtown London. The Grand is one of several local cultural organizations to receive funding assistance from the Ford government after being forced to cancel events due to COVID-19. The theatre was giving an advance on funding already promised. (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

The province has announced nearly $500,000 in aid for cultural events and venues in London that have been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ford government is giving London's Western Fair and Rock the Park $100,000 each, plus an advance of $279,000 already committed to the Grand Theatre to assist with next year's programming. 

Rock the Park, Sunfest and the Home County Music and Art Festival were cancelled in late April because of provincial emergency orders that banned large gatherings in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In March, the Grand Theatre announced the cancellation of the final months of its current season, and in June it postponed the start of its next full season until the fall of 2021.

The provincial funding was announced Thursday in St. Thomas by Lisa MacLeod, the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and Jeff Yurek, announce funding for local cultural agencies and regional organizations at a news conference in St. Thomas Thursday. (Supplied by MPP Jeff Yurek)

She said the industries her ministry supports have been hit the hardest and will take the longest to recover from COVID-19.

"But our government remains committed to supporting these industries as they fuel a spectacular double bottom line – contributing more than $75 billion to the provincial economy and enriching our unique cultural identity."

Jeff Yurek, the MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, said the government recognizes the "immense value of the arts and cultural organizations."

"Now, more than ever, their value for both telling our local stories and attracting investment in our region play an important role in preparing for the future," he said.

The government also announced two grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation that will support regional organizations, including:

  • $150,000 for the Optimist Club of West Lorne to build an accessible and inclusive playground
  • $218,000  for the YMCA St. Thomas-Elgin to support at risk and homeless youth programming

And the Elgin Community Museum will receive a museum operating grant of $15,638.

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