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Letter: West’s comments on Up Here ‘partisan cheap shots’

Fred Slade highlights NOHFC's support of local arts groups
Up Here's iconic geodesic dome is seen in a past edition of the festival.

Editor’s note: Fred Slade is a board member with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). His letter is in response to the July 31 article "Up Here festival scaled down after provincial funds cut entirely."

“I’m surprised and not surprised, because Doug Ford doesn’t have a great history of supporting the arts,” Sudbury NDP MPP Jamie West told on Monday, shortly after Up Here made public through social media their lack of provincial funding for this year’s events.

I would like to set the record straight.

NOHFC has approved $15,000 (the annual maximum) to each of CION, Cinefest, Afrofest, Fierte Sudbury Pride, YES Theatre, Jazz Sudbury so far this year through their Community Events Funding Program, as well as $5,000 to the Sudbury Arts Council.

We Live Up Here received $15,000 last year – perhaps they didn’t apply to the program this year.

NOHFC also funds numerous internships in the arts sector under the Workforce Development Funding Stream which provides 90 per cent of the salary to an annual maximum of $30,000

YES Theatre received $750,000 towards the soon to open Refettorio from NOHFC, plus millions each year to the films being shot in Sudbury

That is only through NOHFC.

And the attached release shows the support other Sudbury arts groups received from Experience Ontario.

Other ministries of both Ontario and federal governments also provide generous funding to the arts, but grants are just that, and when oversubscribed not everyone receives them. 

I have served on many non-profit boards and those that thrive are the ones that recognize there is always the possibility of being turned down, even if the reasons seem unfair to them.

I can understand the disappointment of the organizers, who deserve credit for past events and for adapting this year’s program, and for the positive suggestion to consider multi-year funding. They would be smart to take the advice offered by ministry staff to assist them with preparing future applications when 2024 program guidelines are available later in the year

For his part, West pledged advocacy at Queen’s Park.

“I’m going to be reaching out to them to find out how I can help,” he said.

If he really wants to help, a good start would be to educate himself on the funding available, the generous history, and to stop spreading erroneous information. 

Partisan cheap shots don’t go far in helping those you were elected to serve, but this seems to be a habit he has difficulty overcoming.

Fred Slade