Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover is one of three local organizations getting a much-needed boost from the province.
Lighthouse, Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford and Outside Looking In, an Indigenous dance troupe on Six Nations of the Grand River, are receiving one-time provincial government grants to help survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lighthouse Theatre will receive $71,000, while Woodland will get $60,000 and Outside Looking In will receive $32,280. The money comes from a $25-million funding announcement made by Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
“This funding is absolutely critical,” MacLeod said. “Over the past 11 months, the sectors I represent at Queen’s Park are among those the hardest hit and will take the longest to recover from the pandemic.
“It has devastated our cultural institutions and tourism sector in every single part of Ontario.”
She said the funding will help ensure that Ontario residents will be able to visit cultural institutions and enjoy live theatrical performances when it is safe to do so.
The funding includes $3.8 million for institutions and groups in Southwestern Ontario, including the Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival Theatre.
The government said the one-time investment aims to help artists and arts organizations remain solvent and prepare for a time when they can fully re-open their facilities, resume full programming and welcome back their visitors and audiences as a result of COVID-19.
Janis Monture, executive director of Woodland, welcomed the funding.
“As we move into the recovery stage from this pandemic, this funding will assist Woodland in being able to sustain our operations, create new programmes and prepare to re-open once it is safe to do so,” she said. “Woodland looks very forward to welcoming everyone back to our programming spaces and to engage with our visitors once again.”
Brantford-Brant MPP Will Bouma noted that the Six Nations dance troupe has been around for about 13 years, helping Indigenous youth “deal with inter-generational trauma in their own way.”
Toby Barrett, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP, said the Port Dover theatre is a cornerstone of the tourism industry in his riding.
“This is quite welcome news for our Lighthouse Festival Theatre and all who enjoy its offerings,” he said.
The theatre also will receive a Rural Economic Development grant of $55,710, which will be used to co-ordinate a marketing plan with the Showboat Festival Theatre that it has operated in Port Colborne for the past eight years. The plan will include brochures, an advertising campaign and one website instead of two. Lighthouse shows would first run in Port Dover and then be mounted with the same cast in Port Colborne.
Lighthouse executive director Nicole Campbell said theatre officials have so far made no decisions with respect to the 2021 summer season.
“We have a lot of plans but they keep changing,” she said. “We’re waiting as long as we can to make the best possible decision for the theatre.”
– With files from Monte Sonnenberg