Provincial funding boosts local theatre

By Laura Broadley, St. Thomas Times-Journal

Government support for the arts is something Simon Joynes believes in wholeheartedly. Joynes is the artistic director of the Port Stanley Festival Theatre, which is the recipient of an Ontario Arts Council grant of $36,100.

MPP Jeff Yurek announced the grant for the theatre on Tuesday along with five other recipients in his Elgin-Middlesex-London riding. The Ontario Arts Council has a grant review team that looks at applications.

“Arts is a part of our culture and it improves, not only the quality of life for those living in our riding, but it also has a direct economic impact,” Yurek said.

Yurek said the Port Stanley Festival Theatre has an important spot in southwestern Ontario culture.

“We have a mandate to produce Canadian work, so we exclusively produce Canadian work,” Joynes said.

Joynes said it’s important for the government to support the theatre’s work because stories are so often taken from other places. Funding from the government allows the theatre to put on plays like the world premiere of “Five Alarm.”

“Theatre is a little more close to home. A little more grassroots. So, I do think it’s important that the government funds that,” Joynes said.

The Port Stanley Festival Theatre helps boost the local economy by having visitors come and spend money in the village.

“We have over 15,000 people in the summer that come to Port Stanley specifically to come to the theatre, and all of those people are going to be spending money on food, on accommodation, on gas for their cars when they come here,” Joynes said.

The theatre has been the recipient of the grant for about eight years with the latest funding received in the spring.

“It’s the most significant piece of grant funding that we get in support of the day-to-day operations,” Joynes said.

The theatre has to apply for funding every three years to make sure it still qualifies. The qualification process includes making sure the theatre runs within the parameters of the Ontario Arts Council and that it remains fiscally responsible, Joynes said.

“The $36,100 that we received this spring is the first year in the three year cycle,” Joynes said.

Joynes said the money will go towards the theatre’s daily operations and is included in the theatre’s budget of about $700,000.

“It’s not a project grant, which is specifically earmarked for, say, the production of a certain play,” Joynes said. “This is funding that is specifically designed to help with the financial health … of individual organizations.”

 

Other recipients of Ontario Arts Council grants:

  • $10,000 to Tangled London in Thorndale, for their Media Arts Projects program;
  • $8,000 to VibraFusionLab in Thorndale, for their Media Arts Projects program;
  • $1,500 to Kevin Lamure for exhibition assistance;
  • $11,900 to Katherine Medlyn for arts education projects; and
  • $1,500 to Grant Munroe for his Writers’ Reserve program.