Grant system should be scrutinized

It begs the questions, should established groups receive less and less funding and soon be made to stand on their own?

To the Editor,

Re: Grants handed out, Jan. 22.

Changes are coming to the way city cultural grants are applied for – and not too soon for some.

But what about changes to how the groups are chosen?

Five groups got three-quarters of the $231,826 operating grant pie this year: the Vancouver Island Symphony, per the last council’s order got $85,000, even though it is said to have 150 sponsors giving it close to $800,000 a year. TheatreOne, the Conservatory of Music, Nanaimo Arts Council and Crimson Coast Dance were the other four.

Nineteen other non-profit groups had to divvy up the $57,400 that was left. And 11 groups which applied got nothing.

Committee chairwoman Diane Brennan defended established groups getting most of the funding citing they have proven track records and newer applicants don’t get as much until they prove themselves. But Coun. Bill Bestwick pointed out that the WordStorm Society of the Arts got $4,000 in the first year it asked for city money and $4,700 in its second year of applying.

It begs the questions, should established groups receive less and less funding and soon be made to stand on their own? Should the grants instead be seed money to help new groups? And if a group is bringing in its own money, should tax money also be given?

Kevan ShawNanaimo

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