Generally when there are unspent funds in a budget year, the surplus amount goes to pay down the city's long-term debt. But the city's community arts and culture grant panel successfully argued that policy puts them at a disadvantage.
The panel evaluates applications based on three criteria: artistic and cultural merit; community impact and organizational and financial health. For 2014, panel had $87,677 in funding, and allocated $57,819 to 23 non-profit community arts and cultural organizations, leaving $29,858 unspent.
Under existing budget rules, chair Mark Mannisto said the panel was put in the position of either granting the money to groups that didn't meet the criteria, or losing it altogether.
“Hours of deliberations have gone into the decisions made by the committee,” Mannisto wrote to city council. “To arbitrarily pull from the reserves that has been banked by our committee to assist with the municipal deficit would void the efforts put forth by this volunteer committee and hinder the growth of the arts in Greater Sudbury.”
Meeting in July, city council agreed to put the surplus money into a Greater Sudbury Development Corp. fund to be used for arts grants next year. So next year, the panel will have $117,535 to spend.
In addition to funding for smaller projects from the panel, the GSDC is providing $536,886 to 17 non-profit arts and culture groups this year to offset their operating expenses. That's an increase of $40,866 compared to 2013.
“Operating grants are awarded to organizations with an ongoing presence in the city and an established track record of success,” the city said in a news release.
Recipients of operating grants in 2014 include the Art Gallery of Sudbury ($100,0000); Sudbury Theatre Centre ($60,000); Carrefour francophone de Sudbury ($40,000); Cinéfest ($45,000); Théâtre du nouvel-Ontario ($45,000); Galerie du nouvel-Ontario ($30,000); and, Theatre Cambrian ($25,000).