QUEEN’S PARK — Peggy Sattler, NDP MPP for London West, is calling on the Ford Conservatives to release provincial funding for two festivals that draw thousands to the Forest City.
Sunfest, which has been operating for 25 years, and Rock the Park, which has been operating for 16 years, usually hear about their Celebrate Ontario grants in March. This year, for the first time in many years, the funding has yet to flow, and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports has provided no timeline for when it might. While London waits, Celebrate Ontario grants are being announced in PC-held ridings across the province, including Brantford, Owen Sound, Nipissing, Muskoka, Prince Edward County, Oakville and more.
“Sunfest is a glorious festival that has put London on the world music map, while Rock the Park is a lively four-day festival that has raised millions for local charities,” said Sattler. “Events like Sunfest and Rock the Park have established London’s reputation as a vibrant hub of arts, culture, music, food, crafts, and community – helping to attract tourists, create jobs, and stimulate the local economy.
“Yet the Ford government has been giving both of these organizations the run-around.”
Without vital Celebrate Ontario funding, Sunfest and Rock the Park have been forced to pull back advertising and promotions, jeopardizing attendance numbers and reducing economic impact. This year, Sunfest applied for $75,000 and Rock the Park applied for $250,000, similar to the grants they have received in the past.
“After repeated questions from my staff, the Minister’s office told us the grants would be announced last week. Yesterday, they said they are ‘still looking into it,’” Sattler said on Thursday. “This government needs to prove that they are not playing politics with Celebrate Ontario grants, and release the funding for London’s festivals today.”
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