By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner
A new framework for Barrie’s cultural grants guidelines is finished, for now.
City council gave final approval this week to a motion which limits individuals working for the city receiving grants, specifies residency requirements, slightly changes the composition of the jury panel that decides on the grants and caps its expenses.
Barrie resident Darren Roskam, the only person to complain about the grants program during the seven years it has been awarded, made a deputation to council about the changes.
“There are some things I like, some I don’t like,” he told councillors. “The work I put into it (changing the cultural grants regulations) … I want all of that work not to be dismissed.”
This year, the city handed out $325,000 in cultural grants to 17 community arts groups and 15 individual artists.
Roskam has said he doesn’t believe those who work for the city, as employees or on a contract basis, should be eligible for the grants. He also said non-Barrie residents shouldn’t receive cultural grants, either.
Councillors did not ask Roskam any questions about his deputation, nor were changes to the cultural grants program discussed by council Monday — just approved by a 10-0 vote (Ward 8 Coun. Arif Khan abstained, having just being sworn in that night).
Changes to the grants guidelines don’t limit recipients to just Barrie residents; they can be Simcoe County residents who contribute significantly to the city’s culture — although they must indicate they are non-Barrie residents in their applications. The new policy also states that full- and part-time city employees, and individuals who are directly contracted for their non-artistic services to the city’s cultural department, are ineligible for individual cultural grants — in the year of their employment or contract.
But organizations applying for cultural grants with memberships which may include full- and part-time employees and individuals who have contracted their non-artistic services remain eligible for the cultural grants program.
Applicants must be able to prove they live in Simcoe County, and the program will be reviewed every four years, along with regular updates.
The jury panel which determines the grants will now have four members from outside the city, and one Barrie resident.
Barrie’s culture department had used a panel of arts consultants from across Ontario to review and rate the grant applicants during a two-and-a-half month process.
Their total expenses are limited to $7,000 annually for the jurors’ honorarium, mileage, meals and accommodations. The bill was $7,139 this year. All jurors must be Ontario residents.
City staff will no longer be required to meet with grant applicants in person and relay jury feedback; culture grants cheques can be mailed and person-to-person meetings can be scheduled, if applicants request them.
The city and Barrie culture director Rudi Quammie Williams will also continue talking with its neighbours — the County of Simcoe, Innsifil, Oro-Medonte and Springwater townships — about arts and culture programs, and funding.
The cultural grants program allows organizations to apply for operational support, or funding, and they can also apply for a maximum of $5,000 in project grants. Individual artists are only eligible for project grants of as much as $5,000.
From 2006 to 2011, the city spent $1.9 million on cultural grants; groups and individuals used this money to generate $17.4 million in revenue.
Despite this year’s total of $325,000 in cultural grants, city staff say that’s below both the average and median of comparable municipalities.
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