SPARC hopeful grant funding will continue
By Jenn Watt
Published Feb. 5, 2019
*Includes an update in italics
Rural performing arts organization SPARC is coming to the end of its three-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, with committee members cautiously optimistic more funding will be coming.
SPARC, which stands for Supporting Performing Arts in Rural and Remote Communities, received more than half a million dollars in 2016 to create a provincial steering committee, establish performing arts community hubs and create an online communication network.
Chris Lynd, a board member of the Arts Council ~ Haliburton Highlands and committee chairwoman for SPARC, gave a report on the project at the arts council’s annual general meeting held at the Haliburton Highlands Museum on Jan. 30.
She said SPARC works with creators, presenters, producers and community animators in small, rural areas of the province to help them with projects and connect them with each other. They have two staff positions. They’ve conducted outreach in three rural communities and have financially supported six communities with performing arts projects.
Lynd said the Ontario Trillium Foundation had been impressed with the work done by SPARC.
“Somebody from programming from OTF came to our SPARC symposium, and she was blown away by the work that was being done,” Lynd said.
“Unfortunately right now, grants are on hold. You know that. You’re hearing about the Ontario Arts Council cutbacks. You’re hearing about OTF cutbacks,” she said.
Update: An Ontario Trillium Foundation spokesperson emailed the Echo to say grants are not on hold and that the next application deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Although the committee is “a little bit worried” about funding, Lynd said they had faith the money would come through.
Lynd said the intention is for SPARC to become a truly provincial organization, which means one day its headquarters may no longer be in Haliburton.
Currently, they are planning the next symposium for 2020 and have several rural communities interested in hosting.
Arts council members heard that the organization is in good financial shape, with a surplus this year of $33,036 and a surplus in 2017 of $8,718.
Jim Blake, an arts council member who has been active with the organization for years, asked the executive whether there was a plan for the money.
“Has the board talked about what we might do with that nestegg? … Does it get to the point where our funders, especially the Ontario Arts Council, looks at us and says, you are hoarding money and you don’t need our money,” he said.
Kate Butler, board chair, said there had been discussion about what to do with the money, but noted that the surplus existed because of services the arts council does for SPARC, such as bookkeeping and use of office space. However, it wasn’t clear whether that relationship would be ongoing, which made it difficult to project revenues in the years to come.
Other executive members added that the money would be spent in accordance with the strategic plan, which includes modernize the website.
Artists in the Schools
Students around Haliburton County continued to benefit from the Artists in the Schools program, which offered 64 workshops at all elementary schools. Seven artists gave instruction to 977 students. The program cost $15,700 in the last fiscal year, funded through donations from the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners Association, Trillium Lakelands District School Board, the Rotary Club of Haliburton, Haliburton and District Lions Club and other private donations.
Fashion Fallies fabulous
This year’s Fashion Fallies event at Fleming College in November made a profit of $2,400, arts council vice-chair Erin Lynch reported to the membership. Tickets were sold out a week before the event, which had more than 40 entries of wearable art.
An audience member asked, given the popularity of the event, if thought had been given to changing the location to one that could accommodate more people, or if the show could be repeated over two nights.
Lynch said at this time, it wasn’t a bad thing to sell out a venue and organizers were comfortable with how it was operating.
First writer in residence
Kate Butler gave a report on the Literary Arts Roundtable and the new Writer in Residence program. This year, thanks to multiple funders, novelist Frances Itani came to Haliburton, where she gave a talk, held workshops and one-on-one sessions with local writers. Butler said they hoped to grow the program in 2019.
Meet and Mingle
The arts council organizes several groups of artists: the Performing Arts Roundtable, the Literary Arts Roundtable and the Visual Arts and Artisans Roundtable. These groups meet a couple of times a year to share ideas and network. On Friday, Feb. 8, the arts council is holding an event to bring all of the groups together – open to all artists in the community – to meet and mingle at the Rails End Gallery in Haliburton. The event includes food and drink and runs from 4 to 6 p.m.