Festival society reminds council of regional benefits

Harrison's most popular event not given grant in aid by Kent

The Harrison Festival Society was another group that was surprised to find their funding from the District dry up this year.

Ed and Phyllis Stenson approached council as a delegation at last Monday night’s council meeting, to drive home the importance of the Harrison Festival of the Arts.

The festival may happen in Harrison, they explained, but a majority of the patrons, memberships and volunteers are all from the District of Kent, as well as at least one full-time employee. They see the festival as more of a regional event, and presented that message to council.

Sixty percent of the festival’s 200 volunteers are from the District of Kent, and anywhere from 15 to 18 businesses are supporters of the festival.

“We couldn’t do what we do if it wasn’t for the District,” Ed Stenson said. “There wouldn’t be enough volunteers to make it happen, for one.”

The Festival Society has faced numerous cutbacks from grant programs since 2009, including provincial arts funding and a Canada Council program which was cut entirely. Proof of support from municipalities through funding is a key element of securing grants from other sources, as well. And when municipal money dries up after years of previous support, it raises red flags in other applications.

“It’s important to have municipal funding from this region,” Phyllis Stenson said.

Councillor Holger Schwichtenberg made a motion to send the Festival Society’s request back to budget talks, and that was seconded by Post and voted unanimously in favour.

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