Province invests in Barrie’s arts, culture

From The Barrie Examiner

The Ontario government has made yet another investment in Barrie’s arts and theatre scene.

Two new festivals created by the MacLaren Art Centre and Theatre by the Bay had the province scrambling for its cheque book, recently.

The province is investing $27,975 to support the MacLaren’s four-day festival, Carnegie Days, and $30,000 goes to Theatre by the Bay’s Summer Theatre Festival 2009. The two grants were given out as part of the government’s Celebrate Ontario tourism initiative, which is providing $11 million to 224 festivals and events across Ontario this year.

Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll was on hand to share the good news.

“This is about your successful (grant) applications and the good amount of money you’ve received to help with your two marvellous projects,” said Carroll, who is also minister of culture and minister responsible for seniors. “This initiative helps to feed the creative economy, which is extremely important. (The funding) makes us a destination within ourselves.”

Carolyn Bell Farrell was ecstatic about the grant. She said Carnegie Days is a nod to the history of the gallery’s building, and a way to attract more tourists to Barrie.

“This is the first time the MacLaren’s ever received funding from Celebrate Ontario, and we’re deeply appreciative,” said Bell Farrell, the MacLaren’s executive director. “We’re just so grateful because running this festival wouldn’t be possible without it.

“We are housed in what was once called a Carnegie library, so that’s partly why we’re doing this festival,” she added. “There will be exhibits with workshops and speakers at the gallery. Some activities are happening at the Barrie Public Library and there’s an author’s reading at the Robert Simpson Brewery.”

Bell Farrell said the grant will cover about 30 per cent of the festival costs.

Theatre by the Bay was just as happy to receive its $30,000 grant.

“This funding is huge for us. It will go directly towards our production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night,” said associate producer Erica Angus. “It’s part of our summer theatre and it has a cast of a lot of famous actors from big Canadian theatres. The grant will pay to hire them.”

Angus said part of the grant will allow Theatre by the Bay to offer hearing devices for audience members who are hearing impaired, so they can still enjoy the show.

More money for tourism-related events made Kathleen Trainor’s day yesterday. She said she’s pleased the gallery and theatre group were chosen for funding.

“It’s a very competitive process, and groups have to meet all the government’s criteria,” said Trainor, of Tourism Barrie. “We praise the MacLaren and Theatre by the Bay for giving the province another reason to invest more money in tourism and culture.”



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