More festivals seeking city funding

A record number of arts and culture festivals applied for funding from the City of Victoria this year.

A record number of arts and culture festivals applied for funding from the City of Victoria this year.

The City received a total of 40 applications for its Festival Investment Grants program, which was established 18 years ago to create and sustain a healthy community, vibrant downtown and enhance economic development.

In previous years, the number of applications has hovered between 29 and 32 and last year, the city awarded $156,000 in grants and $95,500 in in-kind support to 27 festivals and celebrations. This year, the grant program will be distributing $169,000 in cash grants to 32 of the 40 applications, along with in-kind grants of up to $115,000.

The Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival, the Victoria Flamenco Festival, Out Stages, the Dragon Boat Festival and Victoria Pride Week, among others submitted successful applications.

However, a majority of the festivals that were approved take place between May and September, during Victoria’s already busy tourism season. While councillors agreed festivals boost economic development, some wondered how they could encourage more festivals to happen during the shoulder season.

“The reality is, from May 15 to the third week in September, we’ve got 36 of the 40 applications, all in that period and three outside,” said Coun. Chris Coleman. “There is a benefit to all of us by driving more events into the shoulder and off season.”

Some of the applications submitted, such as those from Thinklandia, the Victoria International Jewish Festival and the Oaklands Spring Festival, were not approved due to incomplete applications or because they didn’t meet the criteria for funding.

Festival applications are based on program criteria, including a free component, its artistic and cultural merit, economic impact, community support and impact, as well as organizational effectiveness.