The office of Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Neil Lumsden has alleged Up Here festival organizers submitted an incomplete funding application, which missed required documentation.
“As a result,” they wrote, their application “failed to meet the established program criteria.”
A written statement to this effect was submitted by the minister’s office to Sudbury.com after our second story about the province denying Up Here’s funding request was published on Tuesday.
“This is the first we’re hearing of it,” We Live Up Here general manager Jaymie Lathem told Sudbury.com, taken aback to learn about it through media and not directly from the ministry.
Due to the denial of the festival’s Experience Ontario funding application, which organizers learned of last week, Up Here has reduced programming at the Aug. 18-20 Sudbury event.
The festival’s first correspondence from the ministry since submitting their funding application by the April deadline was on July 27, when they received a letter indicating their request was denied.
“They’d know (if we were missing documents) right away, they didn’t have to wait until (July 27) to tell us that,” Lathem said
“With our history of successful grants and impact within the north and in Sudbury, why wouldn't they call us right away to rectify or clarify what they are speaking to?”
The July 27 letter from assistant deputy minister Katherine Kelly Gatten, which was forwarded to Sudbury.com, makes no mention of missing documents.
“Thank you for your application to the Experience Ontario 2023 program,” the letter begins. “I regret to inform you that your event has not been approved to receive funding.”
On Monday, Sudbury.com published its initial story on the Up Here festival not receiving provincial funding, prior to which comment from the province was requested.
The province’s response came after the story was published, and also made no mention of Up Here failing to submit required documentation.
“Unfortunately, not all applications could be supported, and we encourage applicants to explore all prospective support and partnership opportunities when planning their festivals and events,” they wrote.
“While unsuccessful in meeting program requirements this year, Up Here festival organizers have been notified that Ministry staff are available to assist them with preparing future applications when 2024 program guidelines are available later in the year.”
Up Here has requested a meeting with the provincial “Experience Ontario” team behind the pot of funding, which has also offered to help them prepare future applications when the 2024 program guidelines are made available later this year.
Sudbury.com reached out to Lumsden’s office inquiring about what the Up Here funding application’s deficiencies were, when they noticed, and what their follow-up action was. They have yet to respond. This article will be updated if/when they respond.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.