By Kalinowski, Tim on January 10, 2020.
The Heart of Our City Committee announced $126,000 in activity grants on Thursday to support 21 local organizations put on 117 days worth of festivals and cultural events in the downtown area this year.
“What arts and culture and festivals bring to downtown is a flavour,” stated HOC Committee president Dawn Leite, “If Pridefest is bringing 5,000 people or 10,000 people to the downtown core, we would expect to see those spin-offs, and businesses do benefit … The relationship between business and events, I believe, is symbiotic, and we support each other. Businesses support our events and our events also support our businesses.”
Each organization which received grants had to meet certain criteria, including that they be open and accessible to the public, have a broad community impact, and that they locate their event somewhere in the downtown. Applicants who met this criteria were then eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000.
One of those organizations given that maximum grant this year was the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society, which hosts the city’s annual Shakespeare in the Park event in July and August.
Kate Connolly, president of the society, said her group will be hosting free public performances of Shakespeare’s comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor” this year. She said the importance of the HOC grant to the event’s success could not be overstated.
“The grant means a great deal to me both as part of Shakespeare in the Park, and also as a member of the community,” she said. “The revitalization of our downtown area is absolutely essential, and I think we, and all the other (recipient) groups, play a great part in achieving that.”
The Lethbridge Jazz and Blues Festival was another recipient of a $10,000 HOC activity grant.
“I think what is really fantastic about this initiative is it is much more than just funding a bunch of different events,” stated festival representative Kevin McKillop “What you really think about what this actually is; it is really about community building. When you make downtown a place where everyone can come out and enjoy events, music and shows with their families, this is much more than just events every week – it makes sure Lethbridge is a place where everyone is supporting each other and making the city better.”
Most of the 21 recipients have received similar levels of funding in previous years to host events Lethbridge residents are already fairly familiar with, but HOC has added two new recipients to this year’s list: Lethbridge Community Art Hive, which will present “pop up” art opportunities throughout the festival season; and the Lethbridge Living Film Festival, which will present local community stories on film for the first time which have only previously appeared in print form.
“After 25 years of wonderful stories in print, we are gathering and sharing stories in other media formats,” said Dana Inkster, organizer of the festival. “Without the support of Heart of Our City, we wouldn’t be able to get the traction we need to bring this to-scale event to our loyal readers and to our community.”
“It’s really about championing the quality of life in Lethbridge,” she added.
For a complete list of the 2020 Heart of Our City activity grant recipients visit the City of Lethbridge website at http://www.lethbridge.ca.
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