Ontario announces funding to support arts and tourism sectors in Bay of Quinte

SUPPORTING ARTS, CULTURE AND TOURISM (left) MPP Todd Smith (center) Lisa MacLeod Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries in Ontario and (right) Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk met at Glanmore National Historic Site Thursday morning to announce over $630,000 in funding to help drive the local arts and tourism sectors in the Bay of Quinte. (Desirée DeCoste/Gazette staff)

 

DESIRÉE DECOSTE

STAFF WRITER

Local and regional funding from the Government of Ontario  that will assist arts, heritage and tourism organizations in Prince Edward County affected by COVID-19 were announced in Belleville on Thursday

The Honourable Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries in Ontario, met with Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith at the Glanmore National Historic Site to announce more than $630,000 in funding to help propel the local arts and tourism sectors in Bay of Quinte.

Locally, the province announced $29,183 to support the Macaulay Heritage Park, $25,664 to the Festival Players’ of Prince Edward County to support their 2020 theatre season and  $11,965 to support the Mariners Park Museum.

“As I embark across the province of Ontario as many communities are in stage 3 or quickly advancing into stage 3, our government is obviously slowly and gradually reopening our economy as we continue to contain the spread of COVID-19,” stated Minister MacLeod. “Unfortunately on the 12th of March, our industries were hit first, hardest and will take the longest to recover. Our tourism operators were shuttered, our cultural institutions stopped, even minor hockey across the province started canceling its tournaments which meant we lost $13 million airline seats in the months of April and May. It also meant our hotel capacity in many parts of Ontario was at about 3 per cent. We support museums and cultural institutions like the one right here at Glanmore and this sector represents about $75 billion dollars in economic activity annually.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, the government has continued to invest in Ontario’s tourism and creative sectors. Through Community Museum Operating Grants, the Celebrate Ontario program and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the government has invested more than $280,000 to enrich local and visitor experiences. 

“This is so important to our local economy in the region I represent in Bay of Quinte, Prince Edward County, the city of Belleville and all of Quinte West,” MPP Smith said. “All of which are really popular for tourists not just from the local regions and the GTA and the province of Quebec, but all around the world people are starting to come to our region and spending time, spending money and enjoying all of the great sites we have in this area and the many, many businesses that are appetizing especially from visitors from all around the world, so it’s a very important part of our economy.”

Other investments in the region included $34,293 to support the Glamore National Historic Site and $27,550 to the Empire Theatre to support their Rockfest event.

(left) Mayor Panciuk (center) Minister Macleod (right) MPP Smith chat among themselves before the announcement. (Desirée DeCoste/Gazette staff)

“Arts and culture are vital to the wellness of our Bay of Quinte community and they provide a demonstrable economic benefit as tourism drivers,” said MPP Smith. “I’m pleased that our government recognizes this and continues to prioritize support for these industries as we collectively work to overcome the uncertainty of this pandemic.” 

Additional funding was also announced Thursday to deliver locally driven tourism marketing programs  made possible through a partnership between Destination Ontario and Destination Canada designed to incentivize Ontarians to explore their local communities. The Regional Tourism Organization has received $350,000 to deliver a much-needed boost to business.

“It’s going to take awhile before Canadians and Ontarians are going to want to go back to consumer behaviours and habits, and it’s something the Ministry has spent a great deal of time looking at how we can best get people gradually and safely back to their old habits and supporting those tourism and culture industries just as they once did,” said Minister MacLeod. “So the Ministry has invested $13 million dollars into hyper local marketing campaigns, and today I am here to let you know in this sector we are supporting $350,000 dollars in this region for hyper local marketing and we’ll continue supporting that. In addition we are going to continue to flow money to a number of events and museums even though they were either shuttered or canceled, so today we are announcing $633,000 dollars in arts and tourism for Minister Smith’s community, your community.”

MacLeod added the government is committed to continuing its work with the province’s tourism and arts sectors to ensure that as the economy gradually reopens, Ontario will be in the best position to welcome visitors back to our part of the world.

“Ladies and gentleman, who we are and what we expect in our communities very much rely on the sector I am responsible for,” Minister MacLeod expressed. “I know they have been hit and their struggling to survive and that’s why this summer it’s really important for those from Belleville, The Bay of Quinte and other parts of Ontario to start reconnecting with their neighbours, support their local cultural and tourism operations and just really get a sense of what’s really in your back yard, 10 minutes from here what can we do, 10 minutes from the Onroute station on the 401 what can we explore and 10 minutes from your back yard what can you experience. That’s what this summer is going to be all about, to support those people who have lost almost everything over the last four and a half months.”

For more information on Ontario’s arts and culture please visit www.ontario.ca/page/arts-and-culture