A number of arts-related organizations received a financial boost from the City of Nanaimo this week, but it wasn’t without controversy.
On Monday, Nanaimo city council approved the Cultural Operating Grant and the Arts and Culture Festivals and Events grant based on recommendations from the Cultural Committee and Nanaimo Community Heritage Commission.
The grants, which have a combined worth of $256,906, will provide funding to 23 organizations and 18 different events.
Coun. Dianne Brennan said at council that the grants shouldn’t be viewed as grants, but as a community investment.
“It makes sense to not look at these as grants,” she said. “I really see this as investment.”
Although both grants were approved by council, there were issues raised about how the commission recommends funding and the application process.
The Vancouver Island Symphony and TheatreOne will receive over $40,000 from Cultural Operating Grant from the city, while the Nanaimo African Heritage Society, the Blues Festival Society and the Island Consort Chamber Choir all received less than $1,000.
Coun. Bill Yoachim pointed out that groups representing minority interests were given significantly less money than other groups.
“It seems like the ones that were lower or not really accepted on here were the ones that were in multiculturalism,” Yoachim said. “It is quite glaring and I am a little bit disturbed.”
Coun. Jerry Hong questioned how some organizations that have been in the community for decades are still receiving money from the city.
“I can’t support something that we have to give them money year after year after year,” he said.
In order to qualify for either the Cultural Operating Grant and the Arts and Culture Festivals and Events grant organizations must apply to a sub-committee of the Nanaimo heritage commission, who then determine how much funding they should receive from the city.
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