Mayor Jim Watson to fight for Ottawa festivals

Mayor Jim Watson plans to go to bat in opposition to the province in hopes of reinstating shut to $1 million in last-minute cuts to the funding of greater than a dozen Ottawa festivals.

He has requested time with Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, the provincial authorities’s minister of kids, group and social providers, to display how damaging it’s for Ottawa-area festivals to be handed over for funding they have been anticipating from the province’s Celebrate Ontario program. In most circumstances, the funding had been secure for years.

The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, Glowfair, Escapade, Italian Week, the Ottawa International Busker Festival, the Canadian Tulip Festival and a dozen different occasions usually are not included on the 2019 checklist of grants geared toward serving to festivals and occasions increase tourism. 

Crowds having an excellent night time on the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival at City Hall in Ottawa Thursday June 21, 2018.

Tony Caldwell /


Festival season is already effectively underway in Ottawa, and for many, it’s too late to alter their budgets.

“If you’re going to make cuts, at least give these organizations fair notice,” Watson stated. “Don’t cut $294,000 from the jazz festival two weeks before they open, or take $80,000 from Glowfair a week out. And the tulip festival, which is already over, lost $60,000. It’s really disappointing.”

Canadian Tulip Festival director Grant Hooker stated he was “surprised and puzzled” to discover out the 68-year-old occasion wouldn’t be receiving a Celebrate Ontario grant. The pageant, which ran May 10-20, was one of the crucial profitable editions in a decade, with the cool climate main to an explosion of tulips and attendance estimated at greater than 600,000. Admission was free.

“The news came late, without warning,” Hooker stated of the funding shortfall. “There was a much-appreciated tradition of funding from Celebrate Ontario that we had counted on in years past and we counted on it this year.” 

In previous years, he stated the pageant acquired $100,000. This 12 months, it utilized for $60,000, spending the cash to arrange two giant tents in Commissioners Park that introduced the story of the pageant’s wartime origins and Holland’s reward of tulips to Ottawa.

To assist make ends meet, Hooker hopes that cash raised from on-line gross sales of the Liberation 75 tulip could be utilized to the deficit. As a part of a beforehand introduced program marking subsequent 12 months’s 75th anniversary of Canada’s liberation of the Netherlands in the course of the Second World War, bundles of 15 bulbs of the unique flower, in Dutch orange, can be found for $15. (Go to for particulars.)

Another pageant organizer, Ali Shafaee from Escapade, the digital music pageant that takes place June 22-23 at Lansdowne Park, stated his group had utilized for $250,000 this 12 months, after receiving $230,000 to $240,000 in every of the previous three years.

This 12 months’s funding was earmarked for enhancements in staging and manufacturing, together with an even bigger stage bowl to accommodate up to 2,000 extra spectators. The pageant reached capability on one among its days final 12 months; this 12 months, the Sunday is already offered out and Saturday is on monitor to promote out earlier than showtime. 

Escapade Music Festival took over Lansdowne Park for a principally younger crowd of energetic EDM fans in Ottawa on Saturday, June 23, 2018.

David Kawai /

Ottawa Citizen

“We’re too far down the line with everything planned to adjust our budget,” Shafaee stated, including that followers have spent up to $200 every on tickets and predict to see their favorite artists at a professionally run occasion. About 65 per cent of their viewers travels from exterior Ottawa. 

If I minimize a bunch of issues to offset the 250Okay and folks come to the pageant with a sure expectation that gained’t be met, they’re not going to come again. We’ve received to be certain we meet that expectation,” he stated. “For us, this 12 months it’s a matter of taking the hit and nonetheless placing on the perfect occasion we will. But we’ll have to plan in a different way shifting ahead.” 

Watson stated the cuts present a worrying pattern on the a part of the Doug Ford authorities, significantly since there was no reference to them within the current provincial finances.

“Budgets are supposed to be up front and you’re supposed to get all this information up front. Instead, these cuts are coming out in dribs and drabs. It’s very demoralizing,” he stated. We skilled the identical factor with retroactive cuts to town, to the general public well being unit, paramedics, conservation authorities, little one care. We managed to push again and get a reprieve of some months to town cuts. 

“But simply once we’re making some actually good progress after the (tourism) success of 2017, the cuts to the festivals, coupled with the $three.Four-million minimize to Ottawa Tourism’s working finances, usually are not useful in any respect. This is essential to the financial well-being and the cultural vitality of our metropolis. ” 

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