Departing council says no to grant

Christmas looked like it might come early for a number of community groups, including Talk is Free Theatre, but as one of its last acts, the last council said no.
TIFT had asked for $10,000 to help offset the costs of a national theatre conference next May. After the vote was called for, it sat at a 5-5 split. Former mayor Dave Aspen, who spoke against providing the money, voted no and the motion was lost.
Committee had pondered funding requests totalling more than $95,000. Three other requests were deferred: awarding the Easter Seals Society $2,000 to offset the cost of renting city facilities; $58,000 to Hospice Simcoe to offset development charges paid to the city – amounting to 50 percent of payment; $27,000 for Habitat for Humanity to offset development charges.
TIFT had asked for the grant to help the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) offset the costs of the conference next May. Moved by Ward 4 councillor Barry Ward, if approved the money would have come from the Community Grant Program account, and the organizers of the conference would have been asked for a letter stating how the grant would have benefit the community.
“I think there were two main differences in the requests. First, the other groups could wait until the new year for an answer so the requests could be deferred. The professional theatre directors group needed an answer before the end of the year,” said Ward.
“Secondly, the other groups were charitable organizations, which may mean council will look more favourably on them. I’m disappointed the majority of councillors didn’t support the funding request but I can live with it. We have shown a great commitment to culture over this term of council.”
Last Month, in a letter to city clerk Dawn McAlpine, TIFT artistic director Arkady Spivak requested face time before the new city council to seek municipal support for the conference, scheduled for Barrie next May.
Spivak detailed how TIFT was successful in its bid to bring the national theatre conference/AGM of PACT to Barrie next May for five days. The conference will be a meeting of theatre professionals, directors, general managers, and other related personnel, from Canadian theatres, large and small, which employ union actors.
However, Ward asked Richard Forward, general manager of infrastructure/culture/development, if the TIFT request fell under the guidelines of a fund specifically created for community grants. It did, said Forward. Ward subsequently asked staff to contact TIFT to encourage them to apply for funding under the program.
In bringing forward the motion to approve the grant, Ward said the program had still to be formally structured, and that if TIFT had to wait until 2011 to apply through the program, it might be too late to be of use to the conference.
Ward 6 councillor Michael Prowse asked if the city would get a sponsorship acknowledgement for the funding, and was told by Ward there had been no such agreement. Prowse mentioned that he might have been more favourable to the request if some type of sponsorship agreement had been provided.
“I think it lost because a majority felt uncomfortable handing out money at the 11th hour of council for any project, notwithstanding what merit it may have. The deferral (for the other requests) was done simply because those items were not deemed time sensitive and could be dealt with by the next council. The first had to be decided sooner and they could not wait for an answer.”
To handle requests for funding from community groups, and to create an arms-length process to decide which groups will get funding, council budgeted $100,000 for 2010 requests, and it’s the expectation a similar amount will be set aside for 2011, Ward told City Scene Barrie.

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