Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Council Approves $262,156.00 Culture Grants

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Council Approves Grants Supporting Community Groups

At the January 19th City Council meeting council approved the 2015 cultural operating grants and the 2015 arts & cultural festivals and events grants as recommended by the Cultural Committee/Heritage Commission with the exception of funding for the Nanaimo Empire Days Society.

The budget for the operating grants is in accordance with Council Policy to allocate $2.55 per capita which will increase to $3.00 over a period of three years. The total available this year amounted to $231,826.00. This year's grant total is based on a population of 90,912.

The funding of $30,330 for the 2015 arts & cultural festival & events was approved to increase by 10%/yr. for 5 years beginning in 2015. This funding escalation was approved by the previous council in March 2014.

Ms. Shalema Gantt appeared before council obviously not in agreement with the amounts approved for the African Heritage Society and looking for an explanation as to why that group's funding seems out of line with funding approved for other applicants.

The African Heritage Society had asked for a $5000 operating grant and was allowed $600, they also applied for a festivals grant of $2500 and were granted $500.

Five Applicants Receive 75% Of Available Funds

Of the total of $231,826,00 available for operating grants $174,426.00 or 75.2% was granted to five of the twenty-four applicants. There was much discussion among council as to how these funds are distributed and whether or not funding should be reduced for established groups, making more funding available to bolster newer groups.

The funding asked for and given to the top five recipients:

  • VI Symphony asked for $85,000 and received $85,000
  • Theatre One asked for $45,000 and received $42,926
  • Crimson Coast Dance asked for $25,000 and received $18,500
  • Arts Council asked for $15,000 and received $14,000
  • Conservatory of Music asked for $14,750 and received $14,000



  1. I am a big proponent of the arts and culture in the city. I support my tax dollars in assisting these organizations. However, even I can admit that these figures are disturbing. The African Heritage Society only received $600 of $5000 (12%) of their requested grant. That means they will either have to reduce costs in other areas, reduce activities, fund raise to make up the $4400 difference or fold entirely. It's unfortunate, but that's sometimes how it goes in life.

    Then I see other organizations getting 90%+ of their grants. Why can't they do what the African Heritage Society will now have to do? Work harder to get the monies they need to operate? Are you telling me that VI Symphony would fold if they only received $80,000 instead of $85,000? Because that $5000 difference is being felt elsewhere.

    TheatreOne has many sponsors. http://www.theatreone.org/ Plus they can earn $3000 per show via ticket sales (as per their ticket sales page). They need $43,000 in addition to the revenue they generate and the sponsors who also provide financial assistance? How come they are able to operate on a grant of $43,000 when they asked for $45,000? If that's the case, why did they not ask for $43,000? Or will the $2000 they didn't get force them to close their doors? I suspect they will continue just fine without the $2000 grant money they didn't get.

    There needs to be some level of self sustainability, especially organizations who have revenue generating events. A complete and utter reliance on grants from the city (taxpayers) to exist is not a viable solution. I would love to see some of these organizations thrive off receiving 12% of their requested grant money.

  2. I guess it would boil down to how many citizens will utilize said cultural celebrations or arts programs. If the big five that have been listen reach a greater amount of people than that seems like a better investment of public funding. If the amount of individuals who utilize or take part in the African heritage programming is not as great as the other programs/applicants then that would seem logical that the amount of funding wouldn't be as great. Cultural grants have to be supported by numbers, if the society was unable to secure funding it is because the argument must not have been as compelling.

  3. Isn't Shalema Gantt’s modeling agency Panache Productions somehow intertwined with her African Heritage Society?

  4. To who ever Anonymous is. With an annual grand request of only $5000 of course African Heritage Society is going to have to raise funds elsewhere to support all of the wonderful cultural events that they produce.
    I for one love the Gospel concerts AHS produces at the Church and so many of the other multi cultural events that I have been able to attend. My children and I look forward to Art de Carnivale with the face painting, live music and exhibitions. How do we know how many people are supporting the AHS events when so much of it is free? Please somebody make sense. I want those events in my community.$5000 doesn't come close to paying for the enjoyment we as a community (and those who come from out of town) receive from the events produced by African Heritage Society.
    Sorry but my family and I don't often attend the 5 largest fund recipient events.


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