City to direct TIFT to grants program

Rather than approach city council directly for a one-time $10,000 grant to offset the cost of a national theatre conference, Talk is Free Theatre (TIFT) is being directed to go through an application process.
In a letter to city clerk Dawn McAlpine, distributed to council in Monday night’s circulation list, 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 (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres) to Barrie next May for five days. The conference will be a meeting of theater professionals, directors, general managers, and other related personnel, from Canadian theatres, large and small, which employ union actors.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Ward 4’s Barry 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.
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.
“This was meant as a way to deal with all the requests for community-projects funding that the city gets. Organizations will be asked to fill out a grant application.”
The arms-length decision-making process “was felt to be a fairer way of dealing with requests than what we’ve had in the past, where grants were dealt with on an ad-hoc basis and largely determined by whether you knew someone on council and whether or not you could get a majority of councillors to support you.”
Ward said it’s the same process as the one enacted to allocate arts grants, a process he said works well. “It’s certainly a fairer system.”
The conference is expected to draw as many as 175 delegates to Barrie, writes Spivak, who adds that TIFT won the conference over the Shaw Festival.
“Naturally this is not only putting Barrie on a national cultural map, but also contributes in a most direct way to the local economy.
“Therefore, with the blessing and support of (director of culture) Rudi Quammie Williams, I would like to make a presentation to council to articulate the sort of opportunity this is and ask, on behalf of PACT, for a financial support in the amount of $10,000 for the conference.”
According to the letter, the conference budget is $76,000, of which 70 per cent will come from registration fees, leaving $25,000 to be raised locally. Spivak writes that he has been communicating with the department of culture for several months, and that he was advised there was no budgeted spending for this type of opportunity – “unless funding came at the expense of the existing local arts groups.
“This could prove troublesome – especially so since PACT’s position is not to be seen as taking funding away from the existing groups locally.”
The city, said Ward, didn’t get the program launched this year but that some funds were allocated; one event receiving funding, he said, was MPP Patrick Brown’s Hockey Night in Barrie.

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