Several popular Hamilton festivals, community events get big funding boost from province


Published August 4, 2021 at 5:08 pm


Several popular Hamilton festivals and cultural events are getting a big funding boost from the province.

The Ontario Government announced on Wednesday (Aug. 4) that it would be more than doubling its annual funding for the festival and event sector in an effort to support the safe return of community events.

“For more than a year, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted tourism and culture – two major industries that bring people together and our communities to life,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries in a press release.

“Increasing our annual support for festival and events will give the sector a much-needed boost as we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19.”

The province plans to allocate $43 million to support 439 festivals and events across the province through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program. The province says in the release that this is, in fact, a record number of supported events in the program’s 14-year history.

The Reconnect program (known as Celebrate Ontario prior to the pandemic) was developed to help event organizers adapt to new public health measures with virtual, drive-through and other safe offerings.

In Hamilton,10 events will benefit from the funding boost, including: The Festival of Friends ($45,000), Supercrawl 2021 Programming Series ($200,000), Winterfest 2022 ($35,000), AGH Film Festival ($75,000), Audio Visual Presents ($48,174), Because Beer Craft Beer Festival ($30,000), Brott in the Park ($60,000), FrancoFEST 2021 ($34,540), Hamilton Fringe Festival ($75,452) and Winterlit at Mountsberg ($48,500).

An additional $6 million will go to Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster events.

The Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster program supports municipalities and organizations in Ontario to host large-scale, high-impact signature events that draw significant tourist attendance and increase tourist spending, and increase Ontario’s profile.

The impact of the 2021/22 Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster and Reconnect Festival and Event Program investment is estimated to generate over $1 billion in economic benefit across the province.

In 2018, it’s estimated that the tourism industry supported more than 390,000 jobs and generated over $36 billion of economic activity for the province.

“The Reconnect Festival and Event Program has been an integral part of our industry’s ability to adjust to operating and innovating in a pandemic setting,” said Chris Bloore, President and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), in a statement.

“In supporting existing events and helping to found new ones, this program is not only protecting Ontarians’ jobs, but also driving interest for visitors to return to Ontario to reconnect and experience what our communities have to offer.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated that the $6 million for Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster events was part of the $43 million Reconnect program when in fact those funds are in addition to that program. We apologize for any confusion.

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